Nu Metal's Hit New Album: New Empire Vol 1 by Hollywood Undead

Hollywood Undead are back with a new album and if you’re in the mood to get hype they’re still one of the best bands. They have stellar hardcore party songs, but also songs with serious dark undertones. Though their songs have become somewhat lighter over time, like many others, they maintain the edge no matter how much they change their sound. Many fans are upset they no longer feature masks and that their song has gotten somewhat softer. But in the end, genres and aesthetics are irrelevant; quality is what matters.

Nowadays genres are a melting pot, Hollywood Undead are considered “Rap Rock” or “Nu Metal.” “Nu Metal” is an alternative metal that combines other genres with metal. It’s amazing to see artists blending and fusing new sounds with a genre that has always seemed so limited. Hollywood Undead manages to use rap, rock, metal, hip hop and more and roll it out together in hit albums.

One thing that held me back from being a fan of HU was some rather sexist lyrics in their older songs, but it’s nice to see that not present in their new music. It’s nice to see a band embrace a struggle with mental stability rather than blab on about hooking up. New Empire Vol. 1 seems, to me, to be a more mature Hollywood Undead. It’s still HU, but something is lighter, freer, and more respectable.

 

No Music No Life Neon Sign

 

The singles off New Empire Vol. 1 are the best part of the album. They’re awesome. “Empire” is a rocking song that gets permanently stuck in your head. “Time Bomb” has the old HU edge with a bridge that’s a real head-banger. “Already Dead” truly has the darkness and essence of emo that people love about HU. They’re unapologetic on songs like this.

A song that’s not a single that stands out to me is “Heart of a Champion.” It has a great break down in its bridge. Its intro is instantly recognizable and one I continue to come back to listen to again. One song that I don’t like as much is “Killin It” for its different vibe that’s just not my taste, though I love the line “I go straight for the . . . throat.” That gets a thumbs up. It’s not a bad song, just has a different sound. It captures the confidence of HU through a more hip-hop sound. Another song that was less of a hit for me is “Enemy,” I like the music, it just doesn’t seem as deep as other ones and is too repetitive for my taste.

Next, the rap in “Nightmare” is one that makes you want to memorize so you can mouth along the words while you listen. “Nightmare” starts with a creepy almost lullaby opening that perfectly leads into the song. The intro with a quiet chorus transforming into a paranoid rap is excellent. Questioning in the lyrics whether friends will “leave when the feast ends” or “deliver my soul” brings out a feeling of starving for trust that is palpable. In this song the word “die” is bleeped out and the effect is its impact is tripled. The line “dear god did you forget your son?” hits hard and haunts the listener.

"Already Dead" and "Time Bomb" are the heaviest, "Upside Down" stands out as rather heart-breaking in an edgy way. It seems underrated already. Something about the strain in the vocals and the confidence in the song stand out to me. Though, it does feature Kellin Quinn, the lead singer of Sleeping with Sirens, so perhaps it will get the recognition it deserves. Another song that I think I could really get hooked on is “Second Chances.” It’s for sure gonna become a new favorite for its rocking but heartfelt chorus. The repetition of “I’m running” sticks in my brain and the desperation in the song makes it memorable.

HU will have been a band for fifteen years this year, and honestly despite all the years and albums Hollywood Undead can still make a good album. The sound has changed from their debut, but perhaps all bands are meant to evolve. There’s something comforting about the bleak honesty of HU. Their fearless facing of some pretty traumatic and depressing topics in old albums shifts to songs that seem to show maybe the same desperation but maybe a better hold on the self. Their songs have drastically different feelings from self-deprecating to self-praising and yet somewhere between those two HU find their true selves. 

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 , 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15