CD Review: ‘Tango Umbrella’ by American Head Charge

Many folks born post 1993 are too young to remember the nu-metal era from 1996-2003. American Head Charge is one of the bands from that period that never enjoyed the success of bands like Korn or Slipknot. Tango Umbrella is the band’s first studio LP in 11 years and sounds like it. Songs like “Let All The World Believe” and “I Will Have My Day” have all the familiar conventions of late 90s nu metal. Simple industrial keyboards? Check. Downtuned riffs? Check. A vocalist wailing and yelling about teenage angst? Double Check. Metalheads old enough to remember the good ol’ days of Ozzfest and JNCO jeans will smile through the rose colored glass of nostalgia. There are some good songs on this record though. The initial single “Perfectionist” has a great chorus over a somber, yet catchy riff. “A King Among Men” is a touching piano ballad that is a tribute to a fallen friend, possible the group’s guitarist Bryan Ottoson that died in 2005. The uneven to and fro of “Suffer Elegantly” rocks like a train chugging down a mountain.

The production on this record is murky. I suppose the band wanted to capture a raw sound to match the grittiness of the songs. The results are a mixed bag as the guitars sound a bit too muddy. However, the bass is surprisingly strong on this record, especially on “Antidote.” Frontman Cameron Heacock has a limited vocal range, singing off key throughout the record. There is something somewhat admirable about this as he sings with conviction. Still, the vocals will turn off some people who prefer vocalists with a greater vocal range.

In the end, Tango Umbrella is a solid nu-metal record. Several trends have come and gone in the American metal scene and younger metal fans will probably avoid this record. Older metalheads wishing to relive their high school years will like this record as it captures all that was fun and corny about late 90s American metal. AHC will charge into the next decade with or without you, and that is that is the spirit of metal.

For news and tour dates, check out the band’s website: http://www.headcharge.com/