Hollywood Undead – Hotel Kalifornia (Album Review)

Hollywood Undead – Hotel Kalifornia
Released: August 12, 2022

Lineup:

Funny Man // vocals
Johnny 3 Tears // vocals, bass
J-Dog // vocals, guitars, bass, keyboards, programming
Charlie Scene // vocals, guitars
Danny // vocals, keyboards, guitars, bass

Online:

Official Website
Facebook
Instagram
Twitter

After filling up their time the past two years with New Empire, Volumes I and II, Californian hard rock hybrids Hollywood Undead are gearing up to send us back to some form of normality, while also taking us back to where it all began. I don’t know about you, but I love a good concept album that depicts the darkness behind the glitz and glamour of Hollywood, California. Hotel Kalifornia is a 14-track record that sees the band paying homage to their past, present and ultimately, future. Impressions of Los Angeles in popular culture phenomenon are pretty common, but what is rare is gaining an insider’s perspective on the all-too-important underlying issues; that is, a deep cut into America’s number one homeless population.

Hotel Kalifornia stomps straight in with prolific nu-metal/rock energy with the album’s leading track ‘Chaos‘. Representing the current state of America, it’s that punchy hook that the band have consistently made their own throughout the past seven albums, and on this opus, it acts as the vibrant introduction needed to push us through. The hard rock slows momentarily on ‘World War Me‘, with Johnny 3 Tears honing on those intense rap verses. That charge from ‘Chaos‘ picks back up over the bridge for what is a punchy nu-metal breakdown.

It wouldn’t be a concept LP about Hollywood, California if there wasn’t a bangin’ club anthem that sounds like it was made for Sunset Boulevard. ‘Ruin My Life’ is the popcore club banger that sounds more like something Simple Plan would produce alongside Timbaland. The bouncy electronic bassline screams 2010 nightclub energy and while it does give you mesmerising visionaries of a loose AF night on the streets of Hollywood, it kinda stays a little safe near that cheesy pop spectrum. ‘Hourglass‘ manages to bring us back into familiar territory with that emotional nu-metal crunch hitting you briskly in the face. As Johnny screams “you better scream my f*cking name“, it somewhat acts as a subtle reminder that after seven albums, this one being their eighth, Hollywood Undead see themselves as mainstayers in the scene, alongside friends and current tour mates Papa Roach, Bad Wolves and Falling in Reverse.

Follow up track ‘Go To War‘ reminded me of a Need For Speed Underground soundtrack back in the day. That inducing trap-style beat over an Eminem-style rap verse will definitely bring those rapper wannabes to the centre of the pit though. Whatever emotion you may have missed while listening though, is repeated tenfold on ‘Alone at the Top‘. An anthemic blend of post-hardcore riffage, the band manage to fly high with an emotional belter that you’d likely hear during a halftime football game.

I’ll be really surprised if there’s not a song on this record that doesn’t get picked up by the mainstream radio/television networks. Like ‘Go To War‘, the GTA-inspired ‘Wild in These Streets‘ is dark, grungey and perfectly encapsulates the darkness that surrounds the band’s hometown. This aural display of reality continues on ‘Dangerous‘. If you’re a fan of US crime dramas like NCIS, those gritty, hard rock sonics sound like the opening sequence of your new favourite Netflix drama.

The back half of Hotel Kalifornia sees Hollywood Undead venture out and experiment with their vibrant imagination. While ‘Lion Eyes‘ and ‘Happy When I Die‘ show off groovy theatrical pop elements thrown in amidst the guitars, that trap bounce energy returns on ‘Trap God‘. Their confidence is heightened here, simmering off this heated track – and it sounds like Hollywood Undead know who they are deep down and how they want to be portrayed as. After eight records, you’d want to hope they do too.

Honestly, what really brings the entire record together though is the thought-provoking lead track ‘City of the Dead‘. It grabs us in with that rock-fuelled hook, and has us dive deep into thought about the lasting effects of consumerism. While it does stand out as one of the band’s poppier songs, it does the job of bringing the Hotel Kalifornia concept to life. Just like ‘Chaos‘ did with that fiery intro.

After eight records, Hollywood Undead aren’t here to wow us with musical extremes. They’re here to give us more of the music that they’ve loved creating since 2008’s Swan Songs, right through to the recent New Empire. While Hotel Kalifornia probably isn’t going to win over any new fans, it is a consistently fresh addition of their bouncy nu-metal style that’ll have you up on your feet as you crank up the volume to the limit. If you’ve enjoyed their previous albums, there’s a pretty good chance of you giving this a go on your weekend drives outta town. Definitely recommend.

Hollywood Undead – Hotel Kalifornia tracklisting:

1. CHAOS
2. World War Me
3. Ruin My Life
4. Hourglass
5. Go To War
6. Alone At The Top
7. Wild In These Streets
8. Dangerous
9. Lion Eyes
10. Trap God
11. Happy When I Die
12. Reclaim
13. City Of The Dead
14. Alright

Rating: 7 / 10
Hotel Kalifornia is out August 12 through BMG. Pre-order here
Review by Tamara May @citylightstam

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About Tamara May (1083 Articles)
Wall of Sound's Head of Album Reviews. Weekend Content. Pop Punk Enthusiast.