DB HOF NO. 79
The making of Rorschach’s “Protestant”
label: Gern Blandsten
It was only 18 years ago when Rorschach’s second album, Protestant, was released, but man, things were so very different. There was no Internet to help with communication or songwriting; if you wanted to write tunes, a bunch of people had to get face-to-face in a room. If you used any form of home-recording equipment, the resulting music actually sounded like it was recorded at home. And, despite the advent of some pretty ripping crossover albums, the metal and hardcore scenes generally still found themselves at loggerheads, and the idea of combining the genres was still considered fairly radical.
From the epicenter of extreme music fertility in northern New Jersey (which gave us Ripping Corpse, Human Remains, Discordance Axis, Deadguy, Burnt by the Sun and the Dillinger Escape Plan, amongst others) came Rorschach, five dudes hell-bent on pushing as many buttons while breaking down as many barriers as possible. And even though the factions of metal and hardcore had settled down from the days where a long-haired dude turning up at a hardcore show was a prelude to an ass-kicking (and vice versa), and landmarks like Animosity, Crossover and Join the Army were already in the racks, the combo wasn’t nearly as commonplace as it would become years later. Rorschach took deliberate steps to vault their darker-styled combination of metal and hardcore forward with their full-lengths Remain Sedate and Protestant, and by getting in people’s faces with abnormally lengthy tours of America that hit equal amounts of backwoods and major markets.
Protestant’s incendiary nature and bleach-into-open-wound sound—a metaphor for cramming Voivod angularity and the Jesus Lizard skronk into Judge hardcore and Melvins’ noise-doom—belies the fact that the album was created and recorded under less-than-ideal conditions. All the members were attending college at the time, which only allowed vocalist Charles Maggio, guitarists Keith Huckins and Nick Forte, bassist Thomas Rusnak and drummer Andrew Gormley to devote part-time hours to the band they wanted to do full-time. Also, despite recording the album a week after coming home from a triumphant month-plus long tour of Europe, and after writing much of it in the Old World, the members had come to the mutual decision that Protestant and the subsequent summer tour was going to be the finish line for Rorschach. This says nothing to Maggio kicking cancer’s ass not but two years prior and the specter of the disease looming in the background. Considering this list of factors consciously and subconsciously working against Rorschach, it’s a small feat that Protestant was ever completed, let alone that turned out to be a Hall of Fame-worthy nomination.
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