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What do you see?

The resurrection of Rorschach Test

GETTING THE BAND BACK TOGETHER: Rorschach Test returns to Tacoma Saturday. Photo courtesy of James Baker

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You've seen one. If you're lucky enough to have been psychoanalyzed at length, you may have seen plenty of them.

A Rorschach Test. The inkblot thing - "Look at this image and tell me what you see, feel, sense. ..."

A butterfly? A bullwhip? A butthole? A bag of badly beaten beagles?

"There is no wrong answer, Johnny. Just please try to avoid that urge to set the couch on fire while we talk."

But a new beginning? A resurrection?

Fishing something like that out of the indiscernible chaos would be pretty ballsy stuff.

Enter James Baker.

Baker, as '90s era metal-heads can attest to, made a name for himself as the front and center leader of Rorschach Test, a churning industrial metal onslaught that caught particular fire - at least slightly below the surface - in a decade that gave birth to Korn. (If you close your eyes and tap your tribal armband tattoo, I'm sure we can all remember it. ...) Rorschach Test does have Denver ties, but the band truly took root in Seattle. The start of their career saw the band quickly go from playing in front of handfuls of people, to selling out clubs, and eventually to tours with the likes of the Type-O Negative, Queensryche and the aforementioned Korn. The mere thought of Rorschach Test is enough to make many metal fanatics, to this day, clench their fist and grit their teeth - which, of course, is what metal fanatics do when they're excited.

If you've seen more fist clinching and teeth gritting than normal out there in the streets of Tacoma this week, it could have something to do with the show at Hell's Kitchen Saturday, Jan. 16. After a 10-year hiatus, or break, or break-up, or whatever the hell you want to call it, Rorschach Test officially "got the band back together" last October, and is set to throwdown in T-town Saturday with Charlie Drown, Desillusion and Third Law of Motion. Joining Baker will be the well-known Brandon Wilsey on drums, Jason Buttino on bass and Jason Hinrichs on guitar.

Subdued by phone, one can tell Baker is also ecstatic. After what he describes as years of prodding by producer Neil Kernon for a new Rorschach Test record, Baker eventually gave in - resulting in the resurrection we're all bearing witness to. Saturday's show in Tacoma is simply the first ripple to hit this neck of the woods. Expect a new, social commentary charged record later this year, and full-blown, just like the good ol' days touring in the months ahead.

And yes, Baker tells me, this is legit. The band is back for good.

"It's like riding a bike or doing drugs," says Baker of getting behind the mic for Rorschach Test again. "You don't forget, and you go back to right where you were."

Baker says that Saturday's show in Tacoma, as well as all Rorschach Test activity prior to the release of the new, Neil Kernon produced, record later this year is "basically all preparation" for bigger things to come. While he avoided firm details, Baker did say the record - which he started recording two years ago - is drawing interest from L.A. and Chicago.

"The climate in America is perfect for it right now," says Baker of the record's tone, which he says will deal with topics like "the total commercialization and brainwashing of American society."

"Everything is shoved down your throat," says Baker. "People are like sheep."

Except, I assume, Rorschach Test fans - who, nonetheless, seem genuinely excited for the band's return. It's an underground appeal that just sort of happened - but one that Baker's extremely thankful for.

"We were pretty much a focal point of the chemically imbalanced generation," offers Baker. "We've always had a deep connection with fans, and a really underground vibe, that happened naturally.

"It all took off fast and furious."

Remind yourself what the ride was like Saturday at Hell's Kitchen.

[Hell's Kitchen, with Charlie Drown, Desillusion, Third Law of Motion, Saturday, Jan. 16, 8 p.m., $7, 928 Pacific Ave., Tacoma,]

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