The Book of Rorschach is the debut studio album by Sons of Pale Horse. Based on the journal of Walter Kovacs, the album was released on on November 2, 2000 on the 25th anniversary of the Dimensional Incursion Event and was re-released on November 4, 2019. Upon it's initial release it was met with negative criticism by both mainstream and underground critics. Despite the criticism, it remains a controversial cult classic.
Background and Recording
The Book of Rorschach was released by Black Freighter and sold four million units thanks to the ubiquity of the hit song, "Moloch (I Fought the Law)", a retro-weird earworm that infected everyone from nu-metal kids enthralled by the middle-finger-flying lyrics to Boomers tickled by its ample sampling of the old Sonny Curtis tune popularized by the Clash.
Fearful Symmetry Tour
Sons of Pale Horse showed up for their first, and only, concert at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles on December 1st, 2000 as part of their Fearful Symmetry Tour for the album. The crowd was described as mostly, “dude bros in Rorschach masks looking to mosh each other bloody,” according to one band member. Infuriated, the band walked off stage and never came back out.
Following the album's release, it received negative criticism and is regarded as a travesty by mainstream critics, who criticized it for it's “regressive edginess.” The Book of Rorschach record was believed to regard Rorschach as a cult hero and became a rallying cry for the fanatics who already believed it. According to Nova Express, the album romanticized, “lone nut archetypes, enlightened madmen cliches, and a manifold of toxic pathologies.”
Response from the Band
Despite the number of copies it sold, Sons of Pale Horse shut down production of The Book of Rorschach because they felt it was misunderstood. According to the band, their intention was to poke fun at the idea of Rorschach but realized that they inadvertently valorized him instead. In 2001, Chris Deschaines apologized for the creation of The Book of Rorschach in Might Magazine. In that same year, he disappeared from the public eye.
In 2016, Mike Ennis liquidated Black Freighter and donated most of his profits to the Three Million Foundation. Ennis also reconciled with band members Dao X and Gene Casablancas and gave them the rights to The Book of Rorschach.
The Book of Rorschach was re-released on vinyl on November 4th, 2019, two days after the Dimensional Incursion Event's 34th anniversary. The re-release served as part of Charlton Home Records' “Cancel Culture Classics” series.
The re-release features some of Walter Kovac's journal ramblings on both sides of the vinyl. The first side reads "Regret nothing. Lived life free from compromise...and step into the shadow. Now without complaint". On the other side: "This relentless world / there is only one sane response to it." Each side of the album reflects Rorschach's mask. The re-release also features a comprehensive essay by writer and cultural historian Seymour David titled "The Apocalypse That Almost Wasn't.
- American Love (They Don't Make It Anymore)
- Good Men Like My Father
- My Violent New Continent
- No One Cares But Me
- Moloch (I Fought The Law)*
- Dead Dogs And Pretty Little Butterflies
- Locked Up In Here With Me
- All My Friends Are So Very Soft
- The End Is Nigh (Suite)*
- Never Compromise, Never Surrender
All songs written and performed by Sons of Pale Horse except where noted.
- "Face/Mask" written and performed by Chris Deschaines.
- "I Fought the Law" written by Sonny Curtis
- "The End Is Nigh (Suite)" contains samples of: "Neighborhood Threat" written by Iggy Pop, performed by Pale Horse; "Ink Blot Guy" written by Red D'Eath, performed by Pale Horse, "The Spirit of Seventy-Six" written by Red D'Eath, performed by Pale Horse.
- Charlton Home Records is a reference to both Charlton Home, the group home that Walter Kovacs lived in, and Charlton Comics, the creators of Peter Cannon, The Question, and Peacemaker, the characters who served as the basis for Ozymandias, Rorschach, and the Comedian respectively.
- Revolver magazine wrote a fictional review of The Book of Rorschach on their website.