Quite simply, it’s been far too long since American Head Charge were last on these shores.
As is far too often the case these days, various events and decisions have led to a lot of silence over the last 7 or so years which had left one of Minnesota’s finest on hiatus following release of their last full-length, 2005’s ‘The Feeding’. Despite the release of compilation and documentary ‘Can’t Stop the Machine’ in 2007, no new music has really come from the camp.
So, with the eagerly anticipated EP ‘Shoot’ this year, a band who really did have a fairly decent cult following over 12 years ago had started their own resurgence in an era stagnated with generic and awfully un-inspiring dribble. Not one metal-soul has missed out hearing ‘Just So You Know’ at least once in their life and though I’d only seen them thrice before (the blinding performance at Ozzfest 2001, the Mean Fiddler in 2005 and Download in 2006), I was taken back to the same excitement of a decade previous when learning I’d catch them again.
A long story short is that I missed out on the chance to interview the band this time around because of commitments to my job; screwing the system is great, but the brutal un-rock’n’roll deal is that I need the beans my job provides and when the call comes, one has to answer it!
Despite this unmerciful kick in the chops, I headed down with new Rock Sins contributor Iain and we managed to get there just in time for mighty (almost) unknowns RSJ. I’ve caught these dudes before and whilst at first glance are your bog-standard metal band, further listening proves they’re actually a fairly accomplished and decent group. I couldn’t give you a set list, but I definitely recommend checking them out.
Now, you never really know what to get with the Garage in Highbury, London. Often than not, the sound and atmosphere (as was for Cave In, Pelican and Trivium years prior) is absolutely bang-on. But then, on occasion, it can literally be nothing more than a sweaty acoustic bomb-site. Fortunately, a band with the contrasting dynamics of AHC are blessed with the good option.
They take to the stage and thank the hoards for their unrelenting support; unfortunately through desperate personal circumstances, keyboardist Justin Fowler is not with the band. Despite this, and with the convenience of laptop computing and Chad chipping in with synth-sounds, the guys are able to provide a moderately impressive replacement in the form of (more) samples than may get used generally…
Opening proceedings with one of my personal favourites, the pumping ‘All Wrapped Up’ (from ‘The War of Art’) before nose-diving straight into ‘Pledge Allegiance’, ‘Dirty’ and ‘Take What I’ve Taken’ (all from ‘The Feeding’), I feel already that my voice is basically moments from being completely shot. Some, of course, would consider this a great thing…
We’re also treated to two songs off the new EP ‘Shoot’; ‘Sugars of Someday’ and ‘Sand’ (which to me have hallmarks of Karma Cheema’s similar contributions to OTEP) and I sense that whilst the evolution is distinct from their early work, it’s very much an unmistakably sound that’s their own. With time to check since, it so seems that the different cities of the UK are being treated to slight variations in the set-list and whilst it was a shorter affair than I would have liked, it allowed me to stay until the very end.
It should be noted that the band’s music have a deeply personal connection with myself (notably because of the typical stuff you deal with when growing up) and debut ‘The War of Art’ was and has been a heavily played album from my collection. I went through a period of a good 3 weeks listening to the album in bed every night without fail. Despite a number of albums getting similar ‘air-time’, there was always something about the perfect mould of what the band did that stood out to me. The drums were never over-bearing nor under-presented. The samples and electronics were never in your face and nor were they there for the sake of it but of course, the voice has it. The soaring emotive control of Cameron’s vocals always armed AHC with a striking power and few examples demonstrate this better than ‘Just So You Know’ which as expected gets the epileptic reception it deserves.
It strikes me that there is a maturity that seems to have improved the band out-right; gone are the neon-greens and goggles that the typically nu-metal era from whence they came so demanded and we’re now facing Head Charge v3, a suitable notch-up from the v2 that brought out ‘The Feeding’. A cover of Patti Smith’s ‘Rock N Roll Nigger’ shuts down a short but exciting demonstration of a strong, tight and fucking decent band basically playing for the love of it rather than for the necessity. Chad Hanks throws his bass into the crowd in awesome fashion and I go home having had a thoroughly pleasant night out watching a kick-ass band who I hope are back to stay.
Thursday 14th November, 2013
01 – ‘All Wrapped Up’
02 – ‘Pledge Allegiance’
03 – ‘Dirty’
04 – ‘Take What I’ve Taken’
05 – ‘Americunt Evolving…’
06 – ‘Effigy 23’
07 – ‘Sugars of Someday’
08 – ‘Sand’
09 – ‘Just So You Know’
10 – ‘Loyalty’
11 – ‘Seamless’
12 – ‘Rock N Roll Nigger’