There aren't many bands with such a long history as American Head Charge. 2017 will see the band celebrate 20 years of existence and aside from the single Just So You Know and a couple of Kerrang! Awards nominations the guys have largely lived at the edge of most people's radars. Their 2014 tour with Soil will have done a lot to bring them to the fore of people's minds, but pulling out of a tour with Coal Chamber followed by announcing they're also missing a second consecutive UK tour, this time with Mushroomhead, will probably have done more to put people off. Still, new album Tango Umbrella is on the horizon, so let us see what it's all about.
The opening 30 seconds or so of Let All the World Believe peaks the interest immediately. It sounds like something similar to their debut, maybe a positive return to their roots is on the cards? Unfortunately the vocals then start. Sounds like a dreary cross between Dave Draiman and Marilyn Manson, there is just something immediately off putting about the verse vocals. The growls and screams during the chorus are much better, but the riffs sound as if you're approaching a boss in one of the Megadrive's more aggressive games. Drowning Under Everything follows and continues the Manson style vocals and it doesn't really get much better and an unfortunately repeated line of 'so bad' doesn't do them any favours.
From there things don't really get much better, the second single from the album, Perfectionist, is up next and is more of the same really. Sacred tries to create some Alice In Chains style atmosphere but doesn't come close to hitting the mark. There are a few moments where you sit up and think 'hang on, it's getting better', but whether that's a riff, a chorus or a verse you're quickly brought back down. The lack of consistency on the album is it's main downfall. That and the track A King Among Men. An attempted ballad that sits somewhere between Rooster by the aforementioned Alice In Chains and Lou Reed's Perfect Day, but way down below them, looking up in adulation. It isn't all doom and gloom and a couple of second half tracks do see a slight upward turn. Suffer Elegantly is the first of these cropping up and restoring some dignity for Tango Umbrella, though some baffling effects in the middle almost spoil this one too. Prolific Catastrophe is a decent track that crops up not too long afterwards and between them they restore a small amount of dignity.
Pulling out of the Mushroomhead tour may just have done the UK a favour this time round. There's nothing particularly memorable about the album, it's not good enough to garner much natural praise, but shows enough glimpses to not win a musical equivalent of the Golden Raspberries. Suffer Elegantly would slot nicely in with their setlists, but aside from that it's pretty much a write off.