The story of American Head Charge is one of the most intriguing in the rock community’s modern history. Ever since its original inception in the late 90s American Head Charge has seem some of the highest of highs and lowest of lows. From name changes to label changes to lineup changes for one reason or another (one of which was a band member’s death) and multiple breakups this Minneapolis, MN band has been there and done that more than once—maybe even more than most bands nowadays. So it goes without saying that when the band actually announced it had signed to Napalm Records and actually had a record on the way it was quite the surprise. That is especially the case considering that its last full-length album was released more than a decade ago and that the band had only released one EP since then in the form of 2013’s Shoot. That album, Tango Umbrella, will be released Friday, March 25th via Napalm Records. The eleven-song record is definitely an interesting return for the band. For those that might not be so familiar with the band’s body of work so far it is a good record for anyone that is a fan of Mudvyane and other similar acts. The album is anchored by the song ‘I Will Have My Day,’ which actually comes almost halfway through the album’s sequencing. The full throttle rocker will have heads banging through its musical arrangement alone. Its lyrical content is just as sharp. The combination of those two elements makes this song one of the album’s brightest spots. ‘Suffer Elegantly’ is another is just as pummeling both in terms of its musical arrangement and its lyrical content. The album’s opener ‘Let All The World Believe’ is the sort of song that Mushroomhead fans and those of certain industrial rock acts will enjoy. All three songs are bright spots within the course of Tango Umbrella. Thy are not the only notable songs featured on this disc. They are the most notable though. Together with the songs not noted here the whole of the album’s eleven songs makes Tango Umbrella an album worth hearing at least once if no more.
Roughly eleven years have passed since American Head Charge released its last full-length studio recording The Feeding (2005). Both before that and after the band has faced its share of challenges including its latest UK tour. Considering just how much turmoil the band faced between this album and its last it shows up loud and clear throughout this record. It shows both musically and lyrically such as in the case of the album’s anchor ‘I Will Have My Day.’ The song stars slow (like a number of the songs on the album) but doesn’t linger very long before it launches into a full on assault courtesy of guitarists Ted Hallows and karma Singh Cheema’s double guitar approach. Front man Cameron Heacock adds to the songs intensity as he screams, “All of your virtues/But you refuse to see me/I cleared my life for you/So you just let me go without/You can’t justify it all/Not so sorry now/I bear this life/While you just shoved us all away/We sleep now and wait for better times/Just let this all play out/I will have my day.” This verse (the song’s second) seems relatively straight forward. He comes across as singing about someone that has no appreciation for others or respect for that matter. He goes on later in the song to note the subject’s mixed emotions as he screams “I want myself and hate to die/I find myself and hate to want/I hate myself and want to die/I now I’m nothing bu the purest motherf***ing sunshine/We sleep for now/And wait for better times/Just let this all play out/I will have my day.” He comes across in this verse as expressing how torn he is emotionally yet despite that he still has that determination to not let someone bring him down and ruin him emotionally or psychologically. That is just this critic’s own take on the song. Right or wrong, the fire in these lines and that of the song’s musical arrangement combine to show why ‘I Will Have My Day’ is this record’s anchor. It is just one of the bright spots in this long-awaited new album, too. ‘Suffer Elegantly’ is another of the album’s high points.
‘I Will Have My Day’ is a solid starting point for fans of American Head Charge in listening to the band’s new record. The combination of its fiery lyrical content and equally sharp musical arrangement makes it a song to which so many audiences will be able to relate. All things considered here it makes ‘I Will Have My Day’ the album’s anchor. It is not the album’s only high point, though. ‘Suffer Elegantly’ is another of the album’s high points. In regards to its musical arrangement it clearly shows the Ministry influence noted by the band with its industrial rock sound. In regards to its lyrical content said material is just as hard hitting. Heacock screams in the song’s lead verse, “You criticize my descent and analyze my intent/Your vantage point shows all the angles as obvious/You might as well take your shot whether I like it or not/You have the answers without hearing the questions/You think you’re winning but you’re killing yourself/You’re just beginning but you’re running through hell/The friction’s dragging/But you refuse to help/The water’s rising and it’s filling the well.” This verse comes across as Heacock addressing a rather self-centered, self-absorbed figure who has something of a holier than thou mindset. And in maintaining such mindset said individual is only making things worse despite what he or she may think. He goes on to respond to that individual, saying, “There’s so much more to this because there has to be/I can’t just continue to let this all go/So keep on pressing down/And keep on testing me/To see at what point I will give up and fail/You suffer so elegantly.” This is the song’s chorus. It comes across here as Heacock and company saying to the target of the subject’s frustration and anger, “keep trying me, see how far you can go because I’m not giving up and I’m not failing.” It’s another powerful statement from Heacock and company. Together with the song’s musical arrangement, both elements make the song stand out even more against the album’s other offerings. It is one of those musical middle fingers that everyone wants to flip to the world. Or rather that is how this critic interprets the song considering everything. And even with all of that in mind it still is not the last of the album’s high points. The album’s opener ‘Let All The World Believe’ is one more of the album’s high points.
‘I Will Have My Day’ and ‘Suffer Elegantly’ are both important additions to American Head Charge’s latest full-length studio recording. As much as they impress when set against the album’s other featured works, they prove to be just a couple of the album’s most notable songs. The album’s opener ‘Let All The World Believe’ is one more of the album’s highest points. In regards to its musical arrangement, the influence of veteran industrial metal act Ministry is visible once again in this piece as is that of Mushroomhead and other similar acts. The noted influences are exhibited right from the start in the electronic sampling used in the song’s opening bars. That only lasts briefly before the band launches full force into the song with a wall of sound built largely by the band’s dual guitar approach. It is just one key part of the song’s whole. The song’s lyrical content is just as important to note with its sharp commentary. Heacock screams in this song, “All these rationalities keep turning/Snaking their way towards an exit inside of me/Another line another lie/More delusion/Excuse me while I force feed myself/Cause what brings me to this is never my own fault/I’m always further away/Each and every time I stray it’s poison in the air I breathe/So/Let all the world believe/That it’s their God who’s listening/Another productive sin/The distance between is sickening.” This comes across as someone that is extremely bitter. And considering everything that Heacock had been through and all of the turmoil that AHC in whole has faced from day one, it should come as no surprise that there is some obvious bitterness here. Is that bitterness a response to everything that has happened up to this point? That would definitely be interesting to learn. He goes on to sing in the song’s second verse with just as much fervor, “You’re pathetic/All this misery/Tell me what it has brought to you in your life/You’re nothing/Fall asleep at the start/So you can’t finish your achieving a perfectly sordid reputation/It’s everything that’s wrong with this world/That stirs my hunger for revenge/Such warm, kindhearted threats/You’re reaching and hoping/But scratching the surface of/Let all the world believe/That it’s their God who’s listening/Another productive sin/the distance between is sickening/Your cause dies alone/A pathetic show/Your cause dies alone.” He closes out the song screaming, “Shut up/Don’t need it/Just let it go.” It goes without saying that there is quite a bit of venom in Heacock’s verbal assault here. Whether he is speaking to one person or a group would be rather interesting to learn. That is because these lines, along with the song’s musical content, make this song a piece that has the bite of a dozen rattlesnakes. Heacock really goes for the jugular here. And his band mates add to the intensity with the song’s musical arrangement. Both elements set against one another make this song a solid opener for Tango Umbrella and an equally hard-hitting first impression for those that might not be familiar with the band’s body of work. It is just one more example of what makes Tango Umbrella such an interesting return for the band. It is hardly the last song that could be cited in explaining what makes the album such an interesting return for AHC. Together with the album’s other songs the album proves in whole to be a recording that is not just an interesting return for the band but also a record worth hearing at least once if not more. This is regardless of listeners’ familiarity with the band’s body of work.
Whether through the songs noted here or any of the album’s other offerings, it can be said of American Head Charge’s first full album in over a decade is a strong new statement from the band in its current incarnation. That is evident both in the powerhouse musical arrangement in each of the album’s songs (even in the much slower and emotional piano-driven opus ‘A King Among Men’) and its equally powerful lyrical themes. All things considered this latest offering from American Head Charge is a welcome return from the band considering all that it has faced since its inception. It is an album that is worth at least one listen. It will be available Friday, March 25th in stores and online. More information on Tango Umbrellla is available online now along with all of the latest updates on the band’s current tour schedule and other news from the band at:
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