Overall Score: 7/10 High Points: 8/10 Lyrics: 6/10 Guest Appearances: 7/10 Pros: Will sound great live | Does everything fans would want from a Hollywood Undead album Cons: Lyrically lightweight
Some bands live to push boundaries, confound fans, appease critics and cry out for critical acclaim. But equally, there are bands such as Hollywood Undead, who seemingly accept what they are, who they are and who their fans are. And they aim to make themselves and their fans happy, and to hell with the rest of the world.
If you’re not already a fan of Hollywood Undead, New Empire – Vol 2 will not make you a fan. There’s nothing here that the band weren’t doing 5,6,7 or even 8 years ago, and sometimes that is absolutely fine. Lest we forget AC/CD just released one of the best rock albums of the year using the same formula that they were using back in 1980. Obviously, you can’t compare the two bands, but it’s an approach that works.
Unsurprisingly Vol 2 picks up where Vol 1 left off in February, and that is with five guys determined to not let rap/rock die. Although somewhat ironically opening track Medicate with its skittering drums and anguished vocals is more Pop Punk than gritty Hip Hop. However, it’s not long before the band crash back into their rap metal roots with the likes of Comin Through The Stereo and Ghost Out.
Monsters is much darker and much more sinister overall, but lyrically it doesn’t feel authentic. Which in turn makes it difficult to buy what the band are selling. It feels more like the token moody track, rather than something sincere and heartfelt. It’s a recurring theme which sadly does hold the album back at times. The lyrics can come across as just a bit shallow, and no amount of screaming and shouting convinces you otherwise.
The band are much nearer their best on tracks such as Idol featuring Tech N9ne and the album’s huge closing track Heart Of A Champion which comes complete with the assist from Jacoby Shaddix (Papa Roach) and Spencer Charnas (Ice Nine Kills).
The former is a defiant anthem of epic proportions. It’s big, brash, throwing multiple genres in to the Hollywood Undead melting pot. The crushing Dubstep influenced section in the second half is either a gloriously heavy throwback or something which dates the track horribly. In the context of the rest of the album its most definitely more of a positive than a negative. While the album’s closing effort continues the defiant theme, urging the listener to overcome and never give up with the bands trademark passion and energy.
The album also features a couple of bonus tracks in the form of two different versions of Idol. One featuring Ghostkid, and the other Kurt 92. The guests perform their contributions in their respective native languages which does put a slightly different spin on the track, but they aren’t anything earth shattering.
If you picture a Hollywood Undead album in your mind, then New Empire – Vol 2 will undoubtedly be that album. It’s the band doing what they’ve done a hundred times before, flaws and all. Lyrically the album feels lightweight in places and Worth It is a real low point. However, the band also have an uncanny ability to pull you back in just as you think you’re done. Each low moment is followed by something equally brilliant.
New Empire – Vol 2 is Hollywood Undead just as they’ve always been, and that’s just the way they like it.
Listen to the album below:
New Empire, Vol.1 was released Friday 4th December via BMG/Dove & Grenade Media.