Hollywood Undead, ‘Notes From the Underground’ – Album Review
Hollywood Undead continue to step up their game with the release of their third album, ‘Notes From the Underground.’ The disc not only shows the wealth of talent the rap-rock collective has, but also the eclectic tastes they possess, as well.
The 11-track album provides a variety of styles even though they’ve enjoyed their biggest successes to date with harder-edged rap-rock tracks. For those looking for what they’ve come to expect from Hollywood Undead, the lead single ‘We Are‘ is the perfect way to introduce the new album. With military-like drums providing an ominous opening, the band blasts into an anthemic track about fighting for your dreams no matter what obstacles may fall in your way.
Hollywood Undead also deliver a pair of obvious radio-ready singles with two different slants. ‘Dead Bite,’ which opens the album, is more of a sinister track, complete with a demented child’s prayer that goes, “Good night, sleep tight, don’t let the dead bite.” From there, the various members riff on personal conflicts, with Charlie Scene going so far as to rap about chloroforming his prey. The song offers several clever lines and a chorus that’s sure to get stuck in your head.
Meanwhile, ‘Another Way Out’ is a full-on foot-tapper, with the band speeding up the beats-per-minute into what could easily become a club track. In fact, the song is so infectious you might overlook its stalker-y perspective on an obsessive relationship.
‘Notes From the Underground’ also features a handful of tracks that shows the band’s desire to push their boundaries. ‘From the Ground’ is as schizophrenic of a song as you will hear, with its piano opening and melodic chorus offset by moments of pure thrash metal. ‘Lion’ feels like something that came out of the Linkin Park songbook, with its intimate and haunting moments mixed with elements of in-your-face rapping. And the album closer, ‘Outside,’ is a surprisingly moving track that comes from somewhere deeply personal and may connect with audiences more than any track in their career.
On a less serious note, Hollywood Undead also offer the bravado-filled ‘Pigskin,’ with its hip-hop leaning, sports and sex metaphors, and the unbelievably catchy sing-along, “Hut one, hut two, hut three, go.” The band also add their bouncy weed-friendly track ‘Up in Smoke,’ stamped with their own sense of humor.
All in all, ‘Notes From the Underground’ is not the most cohesive album and is not an aggressive rock record throughout, but with the band’s mining of several different genres, the group most certainly hits on something for just about everyone.