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Rausch

Book II

Review by Gary Hill

It's been about eight years since the debut album from Rausch. This follow-up is a real powerhouse. It's a modern prog rocker that has plenty of nods to classic prog. There are a number of epic pieces here, and the shortest song is four minutes long. Spock's Beard comes to mind quite a bit as I'm listening to this. Still, other reference points emerge in my mind from Dream Theater to Queen and even Queensryche. All in all, this is a great prog album that should please both fans of modern prog and those who are more tied to the classic textures.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2018  Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Greener Grass
Piano opens this in a rather classical way. As it continues the voice joins to create a more mellow rock approach. After that works through for a time, it powers out to a harder rocking, full band treatment to continue. I'm reminded of Spock's Beard in some ways on some of the shifts and changes of this piece. There are some places where the guitar sound makes me think of Queen. Around the three minute mark it shifts to a jam that's quite classical in approach. That instrumental section evolves with some killer keyboard work as they march forward. It is a real powerhouse. This gets a parental advisory on the lyrics.
Swansong
Starting with a rather stripped back arrangement for the first vocal section, this powers out from there to a jam that feels to me like part Spock's Beard and part Geoff Tate era Queensryche. This is more of an AOR based prog rocker. It works really well and is rather accessible, while also quite meaty. I really love the guitar soloing on this. At four minutes in length, this is the shortest cut here.
Drain
Keyboards start this with a very dramatic and almost mysterious mellow approach. The vocals come in over that backdrop and the piece moves forward in that motif for a time. Eventually the vocals end, and piano takes control of this for a time, working through some rather classically tinged stuff. Then around the two minute mark acoustic guitar assumes command. It works forward in a rather folk music oriented way as the vocals return over the top of that backdrop. It gradually moves forward from there, slowly gaining in intensity. Then, after the three and a half minute mark, it electrifies into a hard rocking progressive rock jam that continues the musical themes of the previous section. This continues shifting and changing as it moves forward. It gets incredibly powerful. There are some great lead guitar melodies over the top at times. I can make out comparisons to both Pink Floyd and Queen at points along this road. Around the six and a half minute mark it drops way down. After a tiny bit of piano the acoustic guitar rejoins to bring us back to the folk styled section as the vocals join again. Around the seven and a half mark it powers back upward with a bit of a crunch at first. The piece works back in the same general territory as before. There is a metallic riff as a short shift for a moment, but we're taken back to the song proper. This epic continues along that basic line through the rest of its duration. At over ten and a half minutes of music, this is the epic of the set.
Irked
Just about a minute shorter than the previous cut, this starts with a stripped down arrangement that's more or less like an electronic groove with vocals over the top. It eventually drives out to more of a rocking jam from there. There is a jazzy interlude after that part. It works to more of a mainstream hard rock section for a while. Then a full jazz treatment takes over for an extended instrumental section. As that works through some screaming rock guitar rises over the top and solos like crazy for a while. As it approaches the eight minute mark that electronic groove from the start returns to serve as the backdrop for the next vocals. They bring another hard rocking movement in at the end of that section. This cut is just so tasty.
Good Day
A playful acoustic guitar and voice bit opens this. After a bit that gets a hard rock revision. The tune pounds forward with some seriously crunchy AOR prog as it evolves. The cut evolves in a way that definitely makes me think of Queen a lot of the times. It drops back to the mellower opening section and then comes out to an even crunchier version of the rocking movement. That segment takes the piece out with some Brian May like guitar showing up on the outro.
The End
Another song that's close to ten minutes long, space brings it into being. Percussion joins as this remains mellow and atmospheric. The vocals come in amidst that arrangement. This piece evolves in rather freeform, but slowly shifting, ways. To some degree it makes me think of the Final Cut era of Pink Floyd. There is some tasty electric guitar over the top as it approaches the half way mark. It works to a rather Queen-like section for a time. Still some of the weird, trippy stuff brings it back toward Pink Floyd territory. The piece continues its journey with a real free-form, understated approach. There are elements that rise up and create something, but overall the piece feels quite understated. I love the cool rhythm section jam later, and particularly the rather funky bass work. Around the eight and a half minute mark this intensifies up with blasts of metallic stuff. I love the multiple layers of vocals on the closing section.
Time Out
Coming in with acoustic guitar and voice, this feels rather folk music related. It grows out from there with another arrangement that seems a lot like Spock's Beard to me. This has a bit of an AOR approach to it and really works well. There is some killer crunch later as the backdrop for a wall of vocals. That crescendos around the two minute mark, and we're taken out into space from there. The cut eventually makes its way back to the song proper from there.
Speechless
The opening blast of sound here is quite metallic. Then we get a short bit of silence before we hear that same blast. Eventually we're taken from there into a smoking hot jam that makes me think of Dream Theater in a lot of ways. The vocal section feels very much like a metal stomper. While the overall arrangement is packed with proggy changes, this could easily pass as a heavy metal number.
Slow Suite: II. Isolation
This number earns a definite parental advisory. Piano starts it with a classical meets jazz arrangement. Vocals come in over the top of that backdrop, feeling very jazz-like. There is a piano solo for a time. When the vocals join again, the music is still just piano, but it makes me think of Spock's Beard quite a bit. The track continues to evolve. While there are multiple layers of vocals, piano remains the only musical instrumentation.
 
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