Hollywood Undead are back with the first half of their double record and sixth full length studio album, New Empire, Vol. 1. First emerging onto the scene in 2008 with the release of their debut record ‘Swan Songs,’ Hollywood Undead has been labeled as a “rap rock” band. Over the years through each record, both the band and their sound have continued to mature and grow into something all their own further setting them apart from the heinous clutches of being labeled a rap rock band. Since 2011’s release ‘American Tragedy,’ Hollywood Undead seemed to have adopted a more heavier sound, however that wasn’t the case with the bands last album ‘Five,’ which took the band in a different direction unlike any of their previous work.
New Empire Vol 1 opens with an explosive first track “Time bomb.”An intense track, opening with a gritty guitar riff on top a heavy electronic dub track that gets the fans pulse racing as the in your face delivery of the tracks opening verse. Taking aim at the shallowness of social media vanity and the pressures to fit with in todays society, while backed by the powerful and passionate chorus that cries out for change. Overall “Time Bomb” sets the tone perfectly for what’s still yet to come.
“Heart Of A Champion” is a pretty straight forward track, continuing on with the heavy guitar and drum along with the presence of the constant synth loop met by an aggressive lyrical attack by J3T making his point that they will rise above all the hate.
“Already Dead” the lead single off New Empire, Vol 1. has all the writings of an anthematic song and could very well be the fan favorite from the album. Instrumentally the track leans a bit more to the industrial side of things than the previous tracks being a bit more electronic, to me this helps to emphasize the darkness with in the songs lyrics.
Both “Empire” and “Killin It” are my two least favorite tracks on the album overall. I’m not really sure exactly what it is about “Empire” that doesn’t attract me to it, the track for the most part is heavy, the lyrics are aggressive, its just something about the chorus I feel that falls a bit short to me. I don’t know! Maybe it’s not even the chorus so much but more the track placement on the album, one thing for sure, I’m definitely not a fan of the reverb added to J3T‘s verse. “Killin It” on the other hand is nothing but a placement thing. Production of the track is great, the beat bumps and lyrically it’s awesome, I love the song by itself, it just doesn’t fit the track-listing at all especially with the heaviest track of the album following directly behind it.
“Enemy” is by far the heaviest track Hollywood Undead has ever put out and definitely one of my favorites. Instrumentally its heavy, fast and aggressive. As the guitars and drums pound relentlessly, J-Dog and Charlie Scene’s gritty verses have just the right amount of heavy to them that don’t push them over the edge into the screaming valley, while Danny‘s chorus compliments the change in tempo perfectly.
“Upside Down” is a track that truly highlights the maturity of the band and is on full display. As a more serious song touching on regret and reflecting on how our past actions have led us to where we are today. The song also features a cameo by Sleeping With Sirens Kellin Quinn on the bridge leading into the final chorus.
“Second Chances” wow!!! J3T can really sing. I was totally not expecting that at the start of this track, not at all. J3T opens the emotional track with a cry out for help, after the guitars and drums kick in, Good Charlotte’s Benji Madden makes a cameo on a pre-chorus asking the question “ain’t it funny of how life is a such struggle?” It’s another serious song about regret and not giving up when things get hard.
“Nightmare” is more a hip hop based track instrumentally, completely different from the rest of the album that fits in perfectly, a dark song filled with powerful confessions and raw emotions. Charlie Scene‘s final verse closes out the album by concluding, We’re all gonna die anyway, and with all that was said he didn’t say a damn thing.
Hollywood Undead took a new approach, they tore down what they had done in the past to start fresh and build something new, something that the band needed to do. New Empire, Vol 1., truly showcases how much this band has matured. It’s an album that stacks up as their best to date. It’s an album that speaks to a different generation of fans, but will also force some of the old school die hards of the 40 popping era to readjust to the new and much needed dialogue change. Flat out, New Empire, Vol 1 is a great record and overall I give it a 9