"Talented dude, interesting music…!" tweeted ex-Guns N' Roses guitarist Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal on singer/songwriter/pianist Doug Rausch's piano-driven neo/post-progressive rock namesake RAUSCH. The band's long-awaited sophomore effort "BOOK II," followup to 2010's self-titled debut, is finally released as of February 2018. In addition to mainstay Gary Wehrkamp (Shadow Gallery, Outside the Wall) on guitar, heavy-hitting contributions come from the likes of Mark Zonder (Fates Warning), Ryo Okumoto (Spock's Beard), and second Shadow Gallery guitarist Brendt Allman. Picking up where the debut left off, it remains painfully vulnerable & autobiographical of the band's trials & tribulations along the way. Things are "even more deep and dark" this time, observes the returning Rich Mouser who (along with Bumblefoot) applauds the "Queen-on-steroids" diversity running throughout. Lead-off single "Greener Grass" is adventurous and catchy; "Irked" at times flirts with jazz; "The End" is a nearly 10-minute atmospheric musical tapestry picking right up where Pink Floyd left off; the head-splitting "Speechless" shows the band clashing with Metallica-sized demons; and joining "Good Day" is 2nd Ivory-produced track "Swansong" which, by notable contrast, offers a glimpse of something completely unexplored up until now: optimism.