APCG - Essential Headware

Year of Release: 1997
Label: Headline
Catalog Number: HDL 501
Format: CD
Total Time: 58:30:00

Essential Headware APCG play a mix of progressive rock and metal that throws in a few nu-metal, grunge, and rap elements into their sound. Not so much of the latter as some of the new nu-metal bands of late, however. The feeling one is left with is that band didn't quite know what direction they wanted to go it and so tried them all. Even in the same song! This was originally released in 1997 and since their URL is no longer valid, I'm guessing the band is no more. Everything's a little rough around the edges, a rawness that needed a little more polishing before being committed to. Interestingly, it seems (or so the Hi-Note/Headline blurbs on this indicate) that this album has been a "sought after" release. I'm not sure why really. I mean, it's not the worse thing ever recorded, and there are some nice moments. "Norman's Kitchen" is the track that held the most interest for me, a bit of funky rocker with an interesting rhythm (if a bit familiar to me). It's the most complete song, the most consistent. It comes as the second to last track. The other claim by Hi-Note/Headline is that "British underground band APCG launched the style that was later to be termed nu-metal with its huge following of 'grievers'." Hmm?

The band tries to muster a lot of energy, but everything seems a little lackluster. Partly due to the muddied production, partly due to the dreary way vocalist Chris Kelly sings. There are few interesting ideas that fall flat fairly quickly. "Human Element" starts out heavy and crunchy with bass (James Frances) and guitar (Giles Dron), over which vocalist Kelly sings in a near rap style. It certainly has that hard attitude and cadence that you don't wonder if he isn't throwing a litany of (meaningless) hand gestures. When he sings (versus rap) on this piece, he sounds just a teensy bit like Eddie Vedder. The rap stuff returns later for "Grungar Rangar" - whatever that means. I don't dislike this because of the rap element - witness my love of Pain Of Salvation's Remedy Lane, for example. "Sign My Name" starts interestingly, Kelly deepening his voice, but by the second verse that's abandoned. There a bit of crunchiness here latter on that's interesting, and for a moment coming out of it, but it loses focus again. There are some hints at Nirvana here, more stylistically than sonically. You'll hear them again in "Down She Said," before it goes off into a chirpy keyboard section (which sounds a little thin), with sometimes latter-day Marillion-esque groove ? which only makes you want to listen to Marillion instead. Throw in more heavy metal riffs? and it almost gets interesting? almost. "Chrome Plated" has a bit of a Soundgarden thing about it.

Going track by track won't suddenly reveal to you a hidden gem among the stones, I'm afraid. Though, as I said, "Norman's Kitchen" is the highlight from the album for me. Pretty much what I've said about the tracks above can be said about the album. "Stormy River" almost gets there, though. It starts out as a rather nice ballad then spoils it with a heavy metal interlude? something Pain Of Salvation would handle much more deftly, for example. Cut that out, and there's a fairly decent bluesy tune, with a nice mix of snicking percussion, keys, moody bass and sparse guitar textures. Kelly's voice isn't quite up to the task, but serviceable here. A Nirvana ghost lurks here, too. Perhaps I should point out that APCG - not sure what the acronym stands for, though perhaps at one time it was the band member's initials (like RPWL?but only in that regard) - were from the UK. The individuals probably still are, but as I said, the band seems to have dissolved.

There's really not much here for me to recommend this CD. Given the incredible volume of music being released, and so much of it done better, I'd direct you there instead. The musicians play well enough on average? but they need to do more with it. The one unmentioned element here is the guest flute and sax contributions from Terry Davidson, the latter of which can be heard on "Right On." Davidson also contributes typewriter effects, which I think can be heard here, too. This comes in as the second most consistent track, though I'm not fond of Davidson's tone here, or at least the way it plays against the rest of the track? digital drums are quite evident.

Human Element (5:22) / Chrome Plated (7:24) / Bring 'Em Back Preserved (4:12) / Sign My Name (7:01) / Down She Said (4:05) / Grungar Rangar (4:10) / Stormy River (5:33) / Song For Cats (3:01) / Satellite (3:37) / Norman's Kitchen (6:00) / Right On (5:45)

Chris Kelly - vocals
Giles Dron - guitars
Guy Eastwood - keyboards
James Francis - bass
Andy Rhead - percussion


Terry Davidson - sax, flute, typewriter special effects

Essential Headware (1997)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin UK

Added: January 12th 2003
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 1055
Language: english


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