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ALBUM: Hollywood Undead – ‘Day Of The Dead’

ALBUM: Hollywood Undead – ‘Day Of The Dead’


Rap-rock. It’s a world where many musicians dare not tread. Coincidentally, genre-hybridizing has become increasingly popular lately (even accepted). Enter: Hollywood Undead, a band who has been blending genres together for over 10 years now.

It must be odd to be in the band members’ shoes though. Bands like Dangerkids and Hacktivist are actively blending elements of hip-hop and rock/metal with little to no negative attention. HU did this years before these bands, and like Linkin Park before them, are claiming to be back to their roots on a new record label. What’s odd however, is just how antagonistic HU can be seen as in both the rap and rock genres. They aren’t exactly welcomed with open arms by either genre, and probably feel more than a bit screwed over in terms of acceptance. Regardless you can’t argue that HU haven’t earned their place. Mixing the swagger of hip-hop and punch of modern rock have after all given the band members a nice set of cajones and the willingness to go harder than many of their peers – harder as in more N.W.A. than Hatebreed, that is.

Hollywood Undead’s roots however are in good ‘ol party music with a healthy dose of humor and sarcasm but a tendency to tackle darker topics such as loss, feeling outcast and self-destruction. Though they started to stray from the ‘Swan Songs’ formula in favor of branching out into hard hip-hop and active hard rock on ‘American Tragedy’ and even moreso on hit and miss major label debut ‘Notes From The Underground’ it is on new record ‘Day of The Dead’ where HU seem to have found themselves and defined their often-spoken, but hardly-revered name.

Rebirth is the overall vibe one who has followed Hollywood Undead from the get-go will receive, but ‘Day of The Dead’ is certainly not merely repeating past successes. Beginning with the industrial wubwub of “Usual Suspects” it becomes clear that ‘Hollywood’ means ‘Fame’ and ‘Undead’ means ‘Reincarnation’. DOTD is brimming with the (now especially) massive choruses, traded verses and ‘WTF’ name-dropping lyrics (Ashton Kutcher is not among one of the topics this time around) but brings with it creepy samples that would give even Slipknot goosebumps, tighter songwriting than ever and a focused variety of genre-jumping that is undeniably well-executed.

A true compliment to Hollywood Undead’s core sound this time around is that said sound is finally defined. No longer do HU choose to go full-on hip hop or stripped-down aggressive rock – They constantly blend the two and do so coherently. “How We Roll”‘s unsettling gothic rock melodies meeting swapped hip-hop verses aren’t at all what the average listener would expect to hear in a song titled as such, but that’s the charm. “Gravity” comes with an energy that makes it an enjoyably relatable hard rock sing-along with just enough swagger that would make Papa Roach proud. “War Child” is an even more interesting tune that Maroon 5 forgot to put on their last album with its “Wait for the beat to drop”‘ dance-pop nature. No matter what, you never hear the same song twice throughout the 15 tracks and as the record goes on you get a good feel for how each vocalist operates when its their time to rhyme. Interestingly, each member does get to sing at least one chorus on the record, meaning yes, Danny does take a break to do some rapping.

Even though not every song out of 15 shines (You heard “I’ll Be There” on Imagine Dragons’ newest album and “Party By Myself”‘s structure is a bit too in-tune with modern pop music, repetition and all) and some of the lyrics could be in better taste every song IS enjoyable and there’s a lot of quality content to be heard here. Never does it feel like the band are playing it safe, rather they’re showing you that they’re artists who appreciate a nice gamut of musical stylings much better than their previous records did. ‘Day of The Dead’ is an album of anthems crafted for a new generation of rock fans who crave something that raps as hard as it headbangs. Better run, here they come, it’s the day of the dead and everyone is a target, especially the airwaves.

Matthew Powers I write reviews for CaliberTV and enjoy the existence of music.