Review Summary: A pretty solid, if unoriginal, post-grunge offering that got shelved for no apparent reason. It's up for free on Last.fm now...1 of 1 thought this review was well written
One day, I'm strolling around Last.fm, getting to know how the site works, and decide to check out the page of my (then) current now playing song („Bring Me Down” by Breach of Trust). There, I notice a certain section called Related Tracks, with a tune called „Parting Melody” by some unknown band named Head On screaming to me that it can be downed for free. Since free, legal music never hurt anyone, I click. I'm greeted by a pretty, inoffensive, toe-tapping little rock ditty, and soon the entire album (minus the „Four Letter Word” track, which had to be acquired as a part of my cracked-case Columbia Records cheepnis 2003 sampler dubbed, fittingly, Cheap Date) is legally sitting on my hard drive. Thusly, my relationship with Head On began.
Upon trying to obtain some information from Google... fail. The most epic one yet, I may add. Apparently, the internet has no idea that this band exists. The closest I could find was some wrestling-obsessed bunch of Pantera knockoffs from the UK (but spelled with a hyphen), a very brief press release claiming that Inside's getting released and “it's got THE nu metal sound”, in whatever way the author may have perceived THE nu metal sound, and a long-abandoned, dusty Myspace of Head On itself with a short note that the band got dumped from the label before the release of their debut. As I give the album another (metaphorical) spin, I can't help but wonder why was this shelved...
The thing that may have spelled Head On's doom was their lack of originality. Inside is a typical post-grunge affair, reeking of Seether & Co. five miles away. The band decides to stick to what works, not attempting to reinvent the wheel, but also not offering anything to differentiate them from their peers and encourage the potential listener to invest his cash in this particular record. However, those that end up with Inside in their collection are rewarded by something that is often missing from the albums of the more successful and remembered bands – consistency. Whilst a few of the tracks (especially towards the end of the album) get a touch bland, it's nowhere near the filler found on some more recognized records. Inside manages to hold its ground throughout, and not just drop the singles and wait until the 40 minute mark is reached.
The guys sure know how to open a CD, and “Wanted You” is one of the definite highlights of the disc. It's energetic and hooking, catching the ear of the listener and worming its way into their head, and then adding to the impression with a surprising, yet fitting, pretty acoustic break with additional percussives aiding the mood before leading back to the chorus with some jagged, dissonant riffing. However, the band's main strength are the ballads – these guys sure know how to write a good, effective, even if a tad generic soft song. They seem to know they're better at them, since they put a ballad to the sampler disc. Cheap Date contains “Four Letter Word”, a solid track that's a pleasure to listen to and promises more good cuts in a similar vein on the record. The songs that are right after it on the album, “Just Like You” and the aforementioned “Parting Melody”, are a touch heavier and more blatantly hooking (in a slightly “make me a single” way), but just as melodic and moody. Other good softer tunes include the gloomy, subdued “Sometimes” and the stellar album closer “This Time”... despite its simplicity, or perhaps due to it, it's the one most gripping track on Inside, always impressing. What a great way to end the album...
Unfortunately, the album also has some bleaker moments. The songs to blame are the slightly heavier offerings... it's not that the band doesn't get them right at times, since the mentioned “Wanted You” is marvelous, and “Ride” and “Tavia” have a certain toe-tapping, head-bobbing quality to them... but the rest feels forced and unnatural. The closest to THE nu metal sound (as I know it, at least) I found on here would be “Nice To Meet You”, with its relatively heavy riffing and lyrics striding the furthest from the typical love-related clichés earning it a spot on the soundtrack of the Playstation game ATV Offroad Fury 2. However, the song comes off as artificial, trying to tap into a certain niche of the 2003 music market and not offering anything worthy of interest. After a slight lift with “Sometimes”, it's downhill again... “Home Again” fails to grab the attention of the listener despite the slightly intricate verse, and “Better Day” is dull as well. The songs are far from complete duds, it's just that they come off as weak when compared to the rest of Inside. “What Ever Happened” is the worst ballad around, but it's still passable, the highlight being a certain unexplainable charm in the verse melody.
Taking all this into account, the question returns – why did this get shelved? It's a pretty good post-grunge record, far from original, but surprisingly solid and with a number of quality tracks. The label probably needed to reduce their roster for whatever reason, and the nameless, even if promising, newcomers were the ones to go. It's a shame, really... a pretty good band didn't even get a chance to show itself to the world, let alone develop and continue its career. So, pop onto Last.fm and give them a go... it's not going to take much, but you may decide that the guys are okay and get to like a band six years after they vanished before they could even get a chance to shine.