American Head Charge – The Feeding Review

American Head Charge
“The Feeding”
(DRT/Nitrus Records)

American Head Charge exploded out of the gates in 2001 with “The War of Art.” The band, label-mates on American Recording with the likes of Slayer, scored a deafening hit, touring on Ozzfest and later on the Pledge of Allegiance tour with Slipknot (to name just a few). The album was a huge, thundering assault of metal — a mix of Slayer riffs and Slipknot percussion, with a dose of keyboards and industrial edge.

Then, as big as the band seemed destined to be, things apparently (according to the band’s press material) fell apart internally. Various members wrestled with internal demons and it would be almost four years before the band would re-surface with new material (though the song “Cowards” did show up on a compilation last year).

Well, that was a lengthy wait for fans of the Minneapolis-based seven-piece, but it seems to have been worth it. Of course, as with all things, there are notable changes in the band’s sound.

During the interim, AHC left Rick Rubin’s American Records, settling in at DRT/Nitrus. As a result, Rubin was not at the production helm this time around and it shows at times. In his place is Greg Fidelman, who had a hand in engineering “The War of Art.”

The result: “The Feeding,” an 11 track, tight, metallic offering clocking in just over 41 minutes.

“Loyalty” opens the disc with a false sense of bombast before Martin Cock settles into a more subdued vocal mode and the song slows down substantially. Of course, the song still features a pretty solid, pounding chorus (and bridge for that matter), but it’s evident from this first track that there’s something ever so slightly different this time around.

“Pledge Allegiance” is a more straightforward metal offering from the band, something more akin to what fans may have been expecting from the group. But even this track eventually evolves into a hollow dirge mid-way through (though the band does a good job of rescuing the thing before the final screams), for some reason sounding more like an older Marilyn Manson song than something like a Slayer/Slipknot/Ministry hybrid (like anything off “The War of Art”).

While “Ridicule” may be the best song off AHC’s new album, it’s nothing like the initial groundwork the band had laid prior to this effort. It’s full of fantastic tempo-changes, haunting vocals and chilling melodies. Yet, there’s also a hefty helping of intensity and seething anger. With this one track AHC manages to prove it still has a relevant place in the metal community. The juxtaposition of the subtle guitar work and gentle singing with the screaming verses and chug-a-chug musical assault works very well here.

“Take What I’ve Taken” (and, to a lesser extent, “Fiend”) shows the band still wants to keep a foot firmly planted in the industrial genre. In fact, the song sort of sneaks up on the listener as, at first, you are just nodding along to a subtle track but realize that, by the end, you are fully pulled into the song.

“Dirty” seems to fully encapsulate what “The Feeding” is all about: The song opens strong and has some killer verses and a great melodic, echoing bridge, but the chorus is a crazy, stutter-stop of “dirt, so dirty, dirt … di-di-dirty!” As ridiculous as the chorus sounds the first time you hear it, the band somehow manages to make you believe in it … it pulls it off either by completely giving in to it, or simply through sheer will … and you almost want to chant along by the end.

Unlike many metal releases (even AHC’s “War of Art”), the “meat” of the disc lies in the middle tracks. “The Feeding” takes it time to get started through the first couple of songs, but by the time the band kicks into “Ridicule” it settles into a strong groove that doesn’t let up until the final few songs (most albums front load the best material and by track seven you start to get bored — that’s not to say there aren’t good tracks, just that you tire of the material).

In the end fans are left with a nice little metal album. Maybe not the intense, killer follow-up “The War of Art” seemed to promise, but a nice solid album all the same.

Jonathan Widro is the owner and founder of Inside Pulse. Over a decade ago he burst onto the scene with a pro-WCW reporting style that earned him the nickname WCWidro. Check him out on Twitter for mostly inane non sequiturs