There’s a reason American Head Charge is one of the few bands to survive the nu-metal era and if their latest album is any indication, this Minnesota based sextet still has the goods to maintain that they’ll be around for the inevitable second coming of that genre and beyond.
That said: They are back. They are FINALLY back. American Head Charge is ready to assault your senses with their latest (And possibly greatest?) opus, Tango Umbrella. Years and years in the making, AHC’s fourth full-length represents the culmination of their sonic journey up to this point and the evolution of the “Head Charge” sound to new heights of excellence.
Vocalist Cameron Heacock delivers his most relentless and diverse performance yet while bassist/founding member Chad Hanks III’s songwriting prowess is matched by the fierce intensity of his bass rumbles throughout. And make no mistake, the recorded tracks presented to listeners here in no way represent the aural assault AHC bring to your ears live but the recorded outcome is visceral nonetheless (Coincidentally enough, head over here to find out where you can catch them live this Spring).
But back to the album!
“Let All The World Believe” is sharp with succinct, staccato attacks amplifying AHC’s already powerful sound and a great primer for the rest of what’s to come. “Drowning Under Everything” is classic AHC and a huge progression for the band with a solid, laid back heaviness that sees Heacock adapt his more mellow approach vocally for an immediate Hard Rock classic. It’s like these Slayer-type lyrics masked within these beautiful Hard Rock anthems almost. And yep, Hard Rock. They can do it. And do it well.
Hate that tag? Then skip to “Perfectionist” which is full of vitriolic Metal fuel and the exact opposite of “Drowning Under Everything” as it seethes with accented Ted Hallows and Karma Cheema guitar attacks and Heacock echoing the nasty sentiment.
Part of the beauty of Tango Umbrella is the amount of surprises the band pull out, too. Just when you think the album will go in one direction, it goes in the complete opposite. Songs like “Sacred” is just as serene as it is sinister, brimming with an underlying rage and a thunderous bass. Then the seemingly simplistic “A King Among Men” comes in bristling with anxiety and some Alice In Chains-style harmonies climaxing with a muted growl that nicely previews the heavy metal romp of “Suffer Elegantly” which really channels The Feeding’s energy.
Speaking on the band’s last album, “I Will Have My Day” is the perfect mix of The Feeding‘s raw production and The War Of Art’s intensity with a clean chorus that sees Heacock transcend those early Mike Patton tags to become a truly unique and original metal voice. Later still, Heacock and Banks merge in glorious synchronicity during the militaristic “Prolific Catastrophe” which echoes Marilyn Manson at times (And fitting from the band who brought listeners a perfect cover of “Irresponsible Hate Anthem” early in their career).
So the real question is, and after 11 years since their last album dropped, is Tango Umbrella worth the wait? If you get through the epic conclusion of “When The Time Is Never Right” and your answer isn’t a resounding and undeniable “HELLS YES!!!!” then let’s be real: I don’t think we can be friends anymore.