Hollywood Undead – New Empire Volume I
Released: 14th February 2020
Funny Man // vocals
Johnny 3 Tears // vocals, bass
J-Dog // vocals, guitars, bass, keyboards, programming
Charlie Scene // vocals, guitars
Danny // vocals, keyboards, guitars, bass
US rap-rock act Hollywood Undead are no strangers to producing hard rock songs loaded with attitude. Since their 2008 debut Swan Songs, the five-piece have been creating infectious hard rock songs that have won fans the world over. This time, for their 8th studio album, New Empire Volume I, the Californian rockers are determined to build on their current sound, break musical boundaries altogether and steer themselves down a new path to dominate. Because at the end of the day, as long as it’s music that sounds great, that’s all that should matter right?
New Empire begins with ‘Time Bomb’, which features an extremely catchy chorus, accompanied by explosive riffs that’s just enough to win any I Prevail/A Day To Remember fan over. Lyrically, it feels a little generic but this track is still quite enjoyable nonetheless. ‘Heart Of A Champion’ starts to see the band act upon their electronic, rap influences here and their words here sound way more empowering. The track began strong and explosive, but it all kinda fizzled out towards the end. There was definitely some potential here for a decent breakdown (“Compare me to none, I got the heart of the champion…”), but it didn’t quite happen.
It’s mostly uphill from here though. Hollywood Undead dominate best when they find the perfect balance between their various musical influences. ‘Already Dead’ is by far the strongest track on New Empire, as they didn’t steer too far from their previous sound, and as soon as the first chorus kicks in, this presents enough energy for a solid heavy rock banger. ‘Empire’ is equally just as strong here, with its slick production ever so evident, and while the chorus gives off a slightly more pop vibe, it doesn’t take too much away from the overall song quality either. I wish I could say the same for the track ‘Killin’ It’ though. This one was just too left wing here, and I didn’t feel like it belonged on New Empire.
However, the band are back and literally “killin’ it” on following track, ‘Enemy’. This one is pure fire and is the second strongest song on the album. Its high-energy vibes, nonstop action pulls you in from the first note. The energy lingers on following track ‘Upside Down’, a melodic post-hardcore banger backed by none other than Kellin Quinn. The Sleeping With Sirens vocalist lends a hand on this track, and only adds good to this tune.
The star power on this next song was a massive surprise to me on first listen, and not going to lie, I was pretty stoked. Good Charlotte‘s Benji Madden adds his talented pop punk vocals to ‘Second Chances’, which only complements this track even more. While its shiny production is evident, the chorus just soars so magnificently. Volume I ends with the trap-rock track ‘Nightmare’ and while it feels more like an outro to the album, it also somewhat acts like a cliffhanger to what could only be the band’s forthcoming chapter, New Empire, Volume II.
While Hollywood Undead aren’t necessarily breaking new ground here, New Empire, Volume I is a solid collection of new tracks for fans to fall in love with. The top production courtesy of Matt Good needs to be commended here as well as the band’s attempt at reimagining their sound was a decent effort. I’d definitely recommend adding this into your post-hardcore listening session next time.
Hollywood Undead – New Empire, Volume I tracklisting:
1. Time Bomb
2. Heart of a Champion
3. Already Dead
5. Killin It
7. Upside Down (Featuring Kellin Quinn)
8. Second Chances (Featuring Benji Madden)