Rorschach - Protestant (1993)Release ID: 3131

Rorschach - Protestant (1993) Cover
Daniel Daniel / May 15, 2024 / Comments 0 / 0

New Jersey metalcore outfit Rorschach have been on my radar to check out for quite some time now. I'd heard a few of their tracks while I was still programming the monthly The Revolution playlists & had always found their sound fairly attractive but I guess I'm not generally one to go chasing too much in the way of metalcore. The task of selecting every second The Revolution feature release has finally seen me investigating Rorschach though & I'm very glad I did because I've found them to be a class act that's deserving of the hype they inevitably seem to draw.

"Protestant" was clearly produced by a very competent group of musicians who knew what they were doing & had a clear sound in mind. Like a lot of the early metalcore releases, it sits heavily on the hardcore punk side of the metalcore equation but utilizes the best elements of that genre in conjunction with metal influences to great effect. The level of musicianship is exceptional for a bunch of rebellious punks to be honest with the arrangement & composition being very mature & showcasing a lot in the way of technique. I'm not the biggest fan of Charles Maggio's vocals as they tend to err on the generic, screamy side of the metalcore spectrum but they're certainly not a deal breaker by any means. It's the guitar work of Keith Huckins (Deadguy/Kiss It Goodbye) & Nick Forté (Raspberry Bulbs) that's the real attraction here though, particularly when they explore more atmospheric, arpeggiated or chaotic realms.

Another strength is that there are no weak tracks included amongst the thirteen included on "Protestant". It begins in very solid fashion & tends to maintain that level for most of the tracklisting. There's only really the one track that I'd suggest is capable of competing at the top tier of the metalcore hierarchy though in the classic "Blinders". The references to the mathcore subgenre are a little bit of a stretch though to tell you the truth. Yes, this material was fairly sophisticated for the time but I'm not sure I would ever tag it as chaotic, hectic or spasmodic. It's perhaps just a touch more progressive than you would usually expect from the hardcore scene which is intended as a compliment in this context.

"Protestant" is a very strong record overall & is definitely the sort of metalcore record I find myself attracted to. It doesn't rely on production or gimmicks to draw the listeners attention, instead focusing on strong song-writing & punk rock energy to perform the task & it works a treat. In fact, I've gone so far as to include "Protestant" in my newly revised Top Ten Metalcore Releases of All Time list which is really saying something given that it's not generally a genre of choice for me. I can tell a good record when I hear one though & "Protestant" fits the bill nicely.

Shadowdoom9 (Andi) Shadowdoom9 (Andi) / June 12, 2022 / Comments 0 / 0

The original 90s creators of the metalcore universe returned for one last album. Album #2 Protestant is a kick-A masterpiece that would make weeks-long welcomed visits in the playlists of metalcore fans wanting to hear an early mix of the genre with many others!

While the sound is mainly early metallic hardcore, you can hear small bits of punky thrash, deathgrind, and black-doom added to this bad-a** mix. With these influences, there's more riff variation than their violent metalcore-establishing debut Remain Sedate. For Protestant, they expanded on their early Voivod-like punk-thrash riffing into more creative variety. The Slayer-like dissonance is spiced up with tempo changes for progressive chaos. Breakdowns appear sparsely without any cliche over-usage.

"Mandible" already opens the album with abrasive guitar that might make you think of the industrial metal wave that was also shaping up at that time. However, the band is still in the metalcore zone with hysterical shrieks to accompany the abstract madness that gets more melodic midway through. "In Ruins" brings back the powerful anger of their debut. "Traditional" takes on the hardcore thrash that sounds like Voivod's first two albums in interesting dissonance, often twisting into violent bashing. Things get weirder in "Drawn & Quartered" when the Slayer-ish thrash chaos ends up reaching a technical style before becoming a doomy elegy.

"Shanks" has dissonant aggressive chaos taking a turn into the doomy stomping of Confessor. More of the atmospheric music can be heard in "Recurring Nightmare #105". That song and "Blinders" have probably the best early metalcore breakdowns. "Hemlock" again follows the early-Voivod formula of wild riffing and Hellbound atmosphere.

More of the band's earlier raw disjointed madness appears in "Raw Nerve". The nearly 5-minute "Skin Culture" is the band's longest song, and it continues the band's rhythm evolution with a doomy vibe before a sudden twist into faster dissonance. "Cut the Wheel" mixes these elements similarly, but this time having grindcore levels of speed and riffing. Triggering dissonant atmosphere in the best light is "Ornaments", the most atmospheric swansong to end their short career.

All in all, Protestant is an a**-kicker with top-notch music, anger, and atmosphere, going out in history as an absolute early metalcore classic. Highly recommended for fans of metalcore, or simply metal or hardcore, and any mix of those two genres that has ever existed!

Favorites: "Traditional", "Drawn & Quartered", "Recurring Nightmare #105", "Blinders", "Skin Culture", "Ornaments"

SilentScream213 SilentScream213 / February 12, 2022 / Comments 0 / 0

Protestant was an interesting direction for Rorschach to take, adding a ton of new influences to their established Metalcore sound. There are moments of mathy technicality, slower sludgy plodding, and plenty of varied Metalcore riffing in between. For its time, it was a totally unique beast, and no doubt incredibly influential in multiple different directions among the “core” genres.

I find it slightly weaker than the debut, as there is a lot more disjointed chaos and the lyrical content is far more abstract. The honest and emotional delivery of their first release appeals to me more; however, this album is no slouch by any means. Musically it is quite advanced and diverse, and the switching up of tempos and styles keeps it interesting and entertaining. Very ahead of its time and easily still holds up well.


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