Rorschach Test

Slipdisc / Mercury Records, 1998


REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


For some time now, I've been awaiting the rebirth of really good industrial music. Front 242 had their moments, but it's been some time since they set my eardrums on fire. Ministry - can't really explain what's happened to them. Last time I got excited over anything like this, it was the Trent Reznor-voiced cover of Black Sabbath's "Supernaut" - and that was some time ago.

But into the void steps Seattle's Rorschach Test, a band I had the pleasure of seeing in concert earlier this month. Of the five acts that took the stage that night, I couldn't believe what I was seeing or hearing. Keyboardist Troee looked like he was either doing pushups over his keyboards or was humping them. The guitar duo of Benjamin Anderson and Kristopher Geren provided shred after shred, while vocalist James screamed like his manhood was being burned off with a blowtorch.

It was a rebirth for me - and their recent release my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Unclean captures almost all of the ferocity with a surprisingly clean sound.

From the beginning, you know you're in for an interesting ride, with "Satan" and "Elvis" pummelling you into submission. I almost expected a little more bass on this - then again, I'm getting tired of replacing speakers in the Pierce Archives every time someone puts "bass in the face" and burst the Bose. "Elvis" is an especially interesting track, with James blaming the late rock pioneer for damn near every bad thing in the world: "Look what you started, Elvis / Surely there will be hell to pay. / You stole our morals and you led the whole damn world astray."

The nihilistic view of life is clearly seen in tracks like "Wheel Of Misfortune," where James sings such pleasantries as, "Congratulations, you've just won the right / To a meaningless, miniscule life / Full of disappointment and pain / At no extra charge." And while hearing songs like these on Unclean serve to purge you of any negative feelings you might have at the time, you almost wonder if James believes what he's saying - he delivers the goods with such intensity and raw power.

Rorschach Test manage to keep the energy level incredibly high for almost the entire album - losing ground only on the last two or three songs. "Hold" and "Clean" don't live up to the rest of the album, and I question what we needed an additional mix of "Elvis" for, but these songs don't put that big a dent in the whole album. Not when you have tracks as strong as "Cripple Touch", "Song For Other Me" and their cover of Berlin's "Sex" to toss you back into the mosh pit. (I would have liked information on who the female vocalist was on "Sex" - the liner notes don't provide much detail.) Also worth noting is the production hand of Neil Kernon, who seems to provide the "alarm clock" that wakes up the band's sound.

And if you start to take Rorschach Test too seriously, don't - just because they have a song on Unclean entitled "Blow Up America" doesn't mean it's time to pull a Timothy McVeigh on anyone. Two words: chill out.

Rorschach Test is still a very young band (and the guys I talked to from the band were incredibly nice), and if Unclean is a sign of things to come, then the world of industrial rock should be getting very excited indeed. Even with one or two dents in the armor, this is one incredible disc that begs you for repeat listens.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 1998 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Slipdisc / Mercury Records, and is used for informational purposes only.