American Head Charge
23 July 2013
by Daniel Cairns
You don’t hear this a lot and it’s a travesty: American Head Charge made one of the best albums of the whole nu metal era with the Rick Rubin-produced The War of Art. Oh, and they weren’t even Nu Metal either really. They were always more Ministry than, er, Methods of Mayhem. They were a bit Faith No More too, if Faith No More were into steampunk and nasty sex things. Which they were, now that I look back.
Anyway it’s been a while, but AHC have a new thing out. As an aside, by some wild coincidence I’ve started watching WWE again. American Head Charge and WWE. It’s like the last 12 years didn’t exist or something. Gawd, I wish they didn’t.
Shoot’s actually fairly low-key compared to the bombastic industrial AHC used to do, and more like the stuff on their underrated second album The Feeding. It still sounds like American Head Charge though, so they’re not suffering from Robb Flynn Disease, thank Christ. That’s not some back handed compliment, American Head Charge had a fairly unique way of getting heavy “kill everything” bits and quiet miserable bits intertwined.
It’s mainly heavy rock with gothy undertones and the odd industrial twinge. Obviously they didn’t have the budget to make a big, mean-sounding record like The War of Art, but Shoot does a good job of getting at least me primed for another potential full length. ‘Set Yourself on Fire’ and ‘Sand’ are the highlights here, but the other two original songs are good too, with ‘Sugar of Someday’ being a catchy little bugger. There’s a cover of Patti Smith’s ‘Rock N Roll Nigger’ too. It’s better than The Berzerker’s version of ‘All the Things She Said’, let’s leave it at that.
The highpoint of the band is still their frontman Cameron Heacock. No joke now, he was easily one of the best singers to emerge during the dark days of big shorts and rapping. He had the confident Mike Patton-style clarity thing happening, and he could roar too. He’s still got it, and he’s still better than some of the overly practiced stuff you hear today (god listen to me, I’m one sentence away from being a bloody Hovis advert). He actually sounds like he means what he’s singing or shouting. Compare that to the guy from Periphery, who might be able to hit all the notes, but he could be singing about his iPad for all you care.
I like Shoot a lot. It’s not tried to fit in by shoehorning in 8-string guitars or funny time signatures. It’s just a cool heavy rock record with pop hooks and big riffs. Heacock is still a star too, the world (still) just doesn’t know it yet. It could maybe do with sounding a bit denser and meatier, and another original song might have been preferable to a cover, but whatever.
I’m glad they’re back, and this is more along the lines of Earthtone9’s triumphant return than that… thing Soundgarden dribbled out. I hope they don’t implode before they do a new album too. God knows I’ll need something to drone on to everyone about in another 12 years time.
Sounds Like: The last time I was ever truly happy.
Standout Tracks: Set Yourself on Fire, Sand