This is HUGE news for me. American Head Charge is one of my favorite bands of all time, and I have always hoped that one day they would make their triumphant return. Well, here we are; the Minneapolis metal visionaries, have come back.
I actually have very fond, detailed memories of my first encounters with this band, as I do with most bands that helped shape me as a music listener and musician. I had heard their very first single (from TWoA), Reach and Touch, on the Ozzfest 2001 Summer Sampler. It was the very last track on the compilation, and I listened to it over and over…and over and over. Now, this was back when music was more difficult to discover, so comps like this were gold. Then, one night while venturing home from a fall league high school hockey game, I stopped into Best Buy to see what I could find. There it was, emblazened in its glory with that tank barreling towards me, much like the music would from the very first track. A Violent Reaction tore my face off, and they didn’t let up until the album closer, Nothing Gets Nothing, concluded… then I listened to it again! The War of Art was, and is, unlike anything that was out at the time, at least from my perspective, and it blew me away and it still does. I still own that very copy, although it’s now been transferred to mp3 and enjoyed from my iPod.
In 2001, me and several great friends caught them as the opening act for Slipknot, System of a Down, Rammstein, and No One on the Pledge of Allegiance tour in Detroit at Cobo Arena. It was my first concert of this magnitude, and it was about as intense as it sounds like it would be for a 17 year old. These were the premier bands of the day in the nu-metal movement, and all except one (No One) went on to produce multiple, successful follow up albums. AHC was crazy on stage, and there were hardly any people there to see them play (except for the guy in the pit with a mouthguard in; we knew he meant business and to stay away), but knowing the album I was singing along to every song when most people were thinking, “when is Slipknot coming out?”. So, now I have this amazing album that is in my opinion, ahead of its time, followed with an amazing live set; I was hooked.
A few years go by, and they release their 2nd album, The Feeding. Another great album, and having gone through a few line up changes in the interim, the album is a change of pace in terms of sound, but nonetheless, as aggressive as the debut. It just came off a little more polished and I could tell the songwriting had improved. All in all, great album. I remember picking it up with my buddy Adam, mainly because we thought the new Hed PE album was out. We went to Best Buy looking for Only in Amerika, only to realize we were a few weeks early (how did we LIVE before the internet was so prevalent???), and ended up picking up the new AHC release. We jammed to it all the way home, and loved it. Both commenting on the maturity of the sound. That was the last ‘new’ material we would hear from them for years.
My best friend Adam and myself would periodically discuss our hopes that they would record a new album or at least put SOMETHING out. But, after founding guitarist Bryan Ottoson died as the result of an accidental overdose on prescitpion drugs in 2005, we started to lose that hope. Then, vocalist Cameron Heacock left the band in 2009, which they contributed to “inability to continue on a musical career path”. The group was in the process of looking for a new singer, when they decided to call it quits. AHC was dead, with so much potential still untapped.
But, they’ve reconciled and are back together with a handful of the original members (some original members were gone after TWoA, and did not record on The Feeding). They are on a 10 date tour starting tonight, Oct. 20th 2011.
In a musical climate in which the majority of metal and heavy music is starting to blend together and sound the same again (it happens every couple of years), the return of American Head Charge still feels as refreshing as it was the first time I heard them. In my opinion, they were ahead of the game in the early 2000’s, and they unfortunately got lumped into the much maligned nu-metal genre when it was reaching its peak. As hated on as it is, that era of heavy music changed my life, and I would not be the music junkie I am today without that scene, hell, I might not even be PLAYING music if not for the passion I took from those bands.
Every one has their old records they like to put on to bring back the memories of their youth, be it Zeppelin or The Beatles. The Stones or The Who. That’s all well and good, but give me my old nu-metal records and I’ll wax nostalgic on the records and bands that changed MY life. American Head Charge is one of those bands, and to have them back touring and making music is a day I have waited years for.
American Head Charge is back. Nothing more needs to be said. Enjoy what’s to come! Welcome back…