Review Summary: Rorschach’s 2nd LP lays down the blueprint for metallic hardcore
Rorschach’s influence on the metalcore scene is undeniable. From the torn up, raspy vocals that clearly influenced Jacob Bannon of Converge, to the frantic blastbeats and intense riffs that have been imitated countless times, Rorschach’s 2nd LP Protestant laid down the blueprint for metallic hardcore. Why it’s been imitated so many times is clear to see, as throughout “Protestant” Rorschach consistently lay down the sort of menacing and aggressive riffs that bands such as Botch and Converge have been acclaimed for. Crunchy basslines lurk threateningly under urgent, brightly toned riffs, while vocalist Charles Maggio produces the sort of tortured howls that most vocalists could only dream of achieving. As mentioned earlier, Chris’s vocal style is extremely similar to that of Jacob Bannon’s on Converge’s first few records. Lyrics are barked, shrieked, screamed and howled at high speed with the sort of pissed off delivery often found in hardcore.
However Protestant shows Rorschach have more to offer than just chaotic hardcore, as elements of sludge often creep through in the guitar work. Chaotic riffs surreptitiously morph into slow, ominous parts while Chris’s delivery slows down in favour of longer shrieks instead of the fast delivery found elsewhere. These moments show Rorschach’s consistency as a group as all the facets of the band come together in this adaption of style, as the changes from proving an underlining current to overlaying off kilter progressions which the guitar would have otherwise been providing.
Protestant does occasionally get ahead of itself. Riffs that don’t seem to go anywhere are repeated a few times too many in an almost arrogant display of over confidence, as for all the changes in pace Protestant can get monotonous. Not to say that the material isn't good in itself, just that there is a lack of variety in sound throughout Protestant that can get suffocating sometimes, as the unrelenting dissonance and aggression can become all encompassing. Some of the best moments on the album are when Rorschach just let up for a few moments, letting the wall of noise dissipate into more melodic riffs that feel like a breath of fresh air
But what this monotony takes away from the overall experience is minimal, as Protestant is still a consistently punishing record. Further testament of the talent and lasting influence of the members is that fellow seminal metalcore acts Deadguy and Kiss It Goodbye both shared ex-members of Rorschach, with both bands also taking noticeable influence from the record. The dark and menacing tones and style found here can be heard imitated with an original spin on the fore-mentioned bands LP’s, as well as bands such as Zao and Converge. Protestant is a concise and powerful album that may not be perfect nor especially experimental, but it paved the way for countless bands to come.