One of the stranger histories in the metal underground, AMERICAN HEAD CHARGE called it a day in 2009, only to reform two years later. Perhaps the death of guitarist Bryan Ottson in 2005 had a latent toll upon Cameron Heacock, who initially pulled the plug on the band. As the band's web site held the banner "RIP American Head Charge: 1998–2009" for an inconclusive amount of time, bassist Chad Hanks led the call back to arms with Heacock returning, along with recurring members Karma Singh Cheema (guitar), Chris Emery (drums), and Justin Fowler (keys/samples). Second guitarist Ted Hallows was brought on board in 2013 (following a brief stint by MINISTRY and SOCIETY 1 guitarist Sin Quirin) as the refurbished AMERICAN HEAD CHARGE dropped their "Shoot" EP the same year.
Fans still had to wonder, despite random live activity (including a hilarious gig at a zombie-themed wedding reception as part of the band's 2014 Indiegogo campaign), if AMERICAN HEAD CHARGE was truly reunited, at least with the interest of recording a new LP. Finally, "Tango Umbrella" emerges, their first full-length album since 2005's "The Feeding". As the opening number on "Tango Umbrella" declares, let all the world believe; AMERICAN HEAD CHARGE is back. FAITH NO MORE's stellar comeback album "Sol Invictus" last year obviously gave AMERICAN HEAD CHARGE focus, since "Tango Umbrella" is a Patton and company kissing cousin. That doesn't mean it sucks; it's the awesome opposite.
"Let All the World Believe" immediately makes a statement with its whirring electronics opening a crack in the door for the band to punt wide open. A crashing tempo, pounding guitars and a snarling, snaky Cameron Heacock flirts with creating AMERICAN HEAD CHARGE's own MARILYN MANSON proto stomper. It's more than that, however, as smogging electronics hover behind the massive chords and whumping drums. A clattery tribal clang serves up the slithering, bass-bombed "Drowning Under Everything", well-inspired by FAITH NO MORE, particularly on the spiraling choruses. Cameron Heacock doesn't so much mimic Mike Patton's palettes as reflects the latter's stylizations to his own design. Ditto for "Perfectionist" and "Antidote", which couldn't be more celebratory of FAITH NO MORE's return than any scene peer. To this band's credit, their mimicry creates exceptional, schizophrenic rockers for their very own. What they do with a mere piano and acapella structuring on "A King Among Men" is utterly FAITH NO MORE, but it's a sure winner.
"Sacred" is one of the cooler jams on the album with its purring bass lines (reminiscent of PJ Harvey's "Down by the Water") and dusty guitar yowls threading into explosive choruses, still haunted of FAITH NO MORE, yet wholly enchanting. The crunky, fast and deafening "I Will Have My Day" shakes up the album at this point as effectively as the band has done on their previous three albums. Such instinctive dynamics are one of AMERICAN HEAD CHARGE's strengths; knowing the right point on each recording to rattle their listeners senseless. Cameron Heacock is wonderfully manic on "I Will Have My Day", swerving between outrageous huffing and a woozy swoon veering toward total blackout. Later, "Suffer Elegantly" is a superlative promenade of chaos over which Heacock hollers like a carny huckster from Hell, the pounding "Prolific Catastrophe" his pledged cavalcade of tumult.
Let all the world (those who still care about this band) be advised that AMERICAN HEAD CHARGE comes to play on "Tango Umbrella". Though FAITH NO MORE figures largely into their upgraded maneuvers, this is one hell of a howdy-do from a band that needed an album this freaking badass to re-announce themselves properly.