Review new albums you have gotten this year Here is where you can review all the albums you got that were released in 2005 (but not older albums that you bought this year). Angra - Temple of Shadows: This is a fairly solid effort by the band, despite some rather embarrassing guest vocals by Kai Hansen. It is a bit heavier than their previous material, and the guitar playing is mostly of the shred variety. However, there are some beautiful melodic moments in the second half of the album, including one song with some accoustic Spanish parts. It is not as good as Rebirth, but not too far behind. 7.4/10 Arena - Pepper's Ghost: Arena release another masterpiece with this album. This is the heaviest album the band has ever done, and with it they cross the line from progressive rock to progressive metal. As such, the only minor disappointment here is that John Mitchell's beautiful guitar playing of the past, which has been reminiscent of Pink Floyd's David Gilmour, is a bit diminished. Despite that, the songs here are quite good, and some of the vocal medloy/harmony is goose-bump inducing. It is a somewhat short album. My 3rd-favorite pick of the year. 9.0/10 Dream Theater - Octavarium: This is the album of the year, IMO. It is the second best album of the band's career (behind Scenes from a Memory), and the title track epic is their third best song (behind Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence and A Change of Seasons). I had almost felt like giving up on this band after their relatively boring previous album. I'm really glad I didn't. This album has a mix of very heavy stuff (about as heavy as Train of Thought but with much better melodies and less lengthy solos) and lighter stuff more akin to Falling Into Infinity. 9.2/10 Kiko Loureiro - No Gravity: Kiko Loureiro is the guitar virtuoso from the band Angra. It's remarkable that he was able to come out with this solo album around the same time his band had a new one, and both albums ended up fairly good. Actually, No Gravity has about the most jaw-dropping guitar work I have ever heard, as far as technical prowess goes. It bears a wee bit of resemblence to the old instrumental albums Yngwie Malmsteen used to release in the 80s, but the songwriting here is better, the technical skill is higher, and it manages to better avoid the problem inherent in most instrumental guitar albums (getting redundant and boring) by incorporating a lot of classical/flamenco/Brasilian themes. If he could have laid off the shred just a little bit more, and added in orchestral sections (which I know he is fully capable of composing), this would have scored higher. 7.4/10 Porcupine Tree - Deadwing: Steven Wilson has a hit with his newest PT release. This is the best of his albums which are currently in-print. Every song here (except for the curiously dull Shallow) is classic PT. This is also the first time in years Wilson has written really long songs, though I think the highlight of the album is Lazarus, a relatively short song with incredible vocal melodies. A complaint which I don't allow to detract from the album rating is that the booklet does not have lyrics for the songs. 9.1/10 Shadow Gallery - Room V: This album is supposed to be the sequel to 1998's Tyranny. The "plot" is probably the album's weakest element. Concept albums are difficult to do well. They become weak when the lyrics become narration of the plot, rather than sticking with specific concepts and ideas that are loosely related to the plot. That said, the music is terrific. While I said that Kiko Loureiro's solo album has the most jaw-dropping technical work I've ever heard, this album features "the best" guitar work I've heard in recent years, full of soul and jazz-inspired character best reminiscent of John Petrucci's work on the album Falling Into Infinity. 8.6/10 Still to come this year... Opeth's new album "Ghost Reveries"