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I expected equally great album after magnificent "Opus 1". This time we can listen to the Hess brothers' cooperation - Tom (guitars) and Scott (percussion). Here is also Mike Walsh on guitars and Mark Carozza on bass. The second one is Tom's ex-student and a graduate from prestigious Berklee College of Music. Almost five-year awaiting didn't go to waste, because "Opus 2" is as brilliant as its predecessor. The element linking both albums is almost identical covers, and actually photos of satin fabric. Its authoress is Tom's wife - Iwona. Composing process took three years, that's why it wasn't published in 2002, but two years later on. It's also interesting that many ideas were written while Tom stayed in Krakow and derived inspirations from Polish valleys.
As far as two new musicians are concerned, it's rather hard to state if they enriched Hess' music, but surely helped Tom and Mike in covering an artistic crossbar set enough high on the previous release. "Opus 2" is a well-though-out continuation of the debut. It's enough to play a single "Nexuses" to be convinced how enormous stratums of emotions are included in Hess' music and how expressive could be duet's guitar solos. Neoclassical tradition is preserved by such compositions like "Kingdoms" and my favorite "Through The Trials". Americans also stronger stresses a melancholy ("The Cynic, The Sad, And The Fallen") and romanticism ("What Could Have Been... And What Is Not..."). The latter one reminds me of Jason Becker's "Perpetual Burn". Moreover, I should write that "Opus 2" is of so-called brace structure, and it means that the first and the last track include the same leitmotiv. As it turns out, "Waves Of Far Reaching" is a composition that wasn't held on the debut.
I admit that the most original element of "Opus 2" is its ubiquitous movie dramatization. Apart from it, we have no problems in distinguishing both guitarists' styles, especially as there are shared solo parts exactly on time. It is surely helpful in picking out all the nuances. I guess that Tom's guitar was tuned a bit higher than Mike's to separate their parts effectively. Avoiding the projects like G3, it's necessary to write that two guitarists playing in dissimilar styles are rarity in contemporary music. Some people can consider Hess' music very complex, but every well-informed man knows that virtuosic music belongs to a niche subgenres, that's why this music is so wonderful and unusual. I think highly of Tom not only because of his beautiful tones, but also of his modesty that makes him a great man!