In 2016 it is very hard to get excited about about a new American Head Charge album. If you’re near or in my age bracket then you’ll most likely have been caught up in the Nu-Metal craze. American Head Charge’s The War of Art record was a big part of that & one of the better albums to come out during that period.
Since then…well it’s all been a bit of a mess. Heavy drug use, the loss of a talented guitarist because of an overdose & a distinctly average album release in 2005 (The Feeding). It wasn’t a surprise to anyone really when the band split in 2009.
…but here we are, it’s 2016 & American Head Charge are back with their new album, Tango Umbrella.
Opening track, Let All the World Believe is an enjoyable start that announces the bands return with a hail of noise & heaviness. Not exactly mind-blowing & sounding a little outdated already it bleeds into Drowning Under Everything with an opening that sounds ripped from the nu-metal era. Any goodwill built up from the first song is quickly lost here, a problem that continues throughout the album.
It’s just got far too many bland sounding songs with little risk taking & soft vocals that begin to grate on you after a while. A lot of the lyrics are pulled straight out of the nu-metal playbook sounding childish, like a teen still pissed off with their parents for not letting them go to that Marilyn Manson concert.
It doesn’t matter anyway.
These words have fallen on deaf ears.
I don’t do it for approval.
I do it so I can stand me.
I’m not exactly sure what was the idea behind so many ‘softer’ songs taking up much of the albums run time as these are the major low points of the record. Songs like Sacred & A King Among Men just bog down an album already struggling to keep its head above water.
In fact A King Among Men might be one of the worst songs I’ve heard in a while. It’s American Head Charge doing a ballad…poorly. Piano driven with softly sung vocals it’s almost forgivable until the crooning starts. It stands out for all the wrong reasons & I wouldn’t be surprised if you stopped listening at this stage.
It’s hard to get excited about the latter half of the album after that dour mess & Suffer Elegantly does little to help. It’s a much faster song & filled with flashes of heaviness but bores especially when the band chooses to avoid what would have been an obvious killer breakdown moment.
The rest of the album stumbles it’s way along & every time you think it’s sunk to the lowest it can go it manages to surprise you by going that little bit further down. This is an album that leaves you with a grimace with far too many missed opportunities. The final song on this 11 track bad dream is When the Time is Never Right, an intriguing opening implies we might be getting something of a dark & heavy epic. It’s a really enjoyable introduction that falls apart as it fails to pick up & introduces group vocals that just end up sounding out of key. It’s irritating to listen too & it’s hard to understand just what the band where going for. It’s a really disappointing as the song has a lot of promise.
Tango Umbrella is the sounds of a band not quite sure of just who they are anymore. In part trying to hang onto the scraps of their most successful period while attempting to move themselves in a newer direction. The end result is a mess that will leave long-time fans disappointed & any new listeners turned off.
Full track list:
1. Let All the World Believe
2. Drowning Under Everything
5. I Will Have My Day
6. A King Among Men
7. Suffer Elegantly
9. Prolific Catastrophe
10. Down and Depraved
11. When the Time is Never Right
American Head Charge - Tango Umbrella (Napalm Records)