I know everyone is on their toes ready for nostalgia in the next part of Console Wars since literally the next thing is the infamous Bit Wars, but I’mma need to tell y’all to hold up and take a chill pill, because I need to talk about and review my childhood band that I listened to religiously throughout late elementary and the entirety of middle school and high school.
Hollywood Undead has been a band I’ve been listening to since I was 10 years old thanks to the power of YouTube and the typical “(insert ship here)” videos that existed back then thanks to Happy Tree Friends. And yes I’m a bit of a cursed child when this was a band at the time who had explicit plastered all over their first album. It’s a bit hard to imagine it’s already been 10 years since I first listened to the band, and they made their sixth release since their first release in 2008 and it’s time to bring this band in a bit of limelight here on AAOG.
But first, a brief history about Hollywood Undead
Hollywood Undead is a rap-rock band that was founded by Jorel Decker and Aron Erlichman and were one of the bands to pop up back in the era of MySpace music in 2005. I now made everyone reading this article feel extremely old. Jorel and Aron would soon recruit Dylan Alvarez, George Ragen, Jordon Terrell, Matthew Busek and Jeffrey Phillips, and they needed an identity, so they decided to make masks and have stage names. The names goes as followed: Jorel Decker is J-Dog, Aron was Tha Producer, or now known as Deuce, Dylan is known as Funny Man, George was known as The Server, but is now known as Johnny 3 Tears, Jordon is Charlie Scene (classy), Matthew was Da Kurlzz and Jeffrey was Shady Jeff, and Hollywood Undead was underway in 2005.
Although literally about a year and a half later in 2007, Shady Jeff quit the band because Deuce was being disrespectful at his birthday party and he pulled out a gun on him in retaliation, telling him to get out his house, although in a 2009 interview on MTV, J-Dog and Johnny 3 Tears claims that he was fired because he was pushing 30 and because he didn’t serve a purpose in the band. Ironic since I was fired for being too young, not wanting to do illegal stuff and “contributing nothing to the band”. I was the bass player who turned the sound into what it was, but stuff happens.
Fun fact about MySpace era Hollywood Undead: they actually have two songs that they collaborated with Jeffree Star back when Jeffree used to do music during his hayday on the platform, although that would be a bit more in the late 2000’s where his hayday of music truly began.
Feel old yet?
Hollywood Undead would continue as a six-person band with a touring drummer for the majority of their careers and in 2008, they released the album Swan Song which would be the album to spark their success and their slow and eventual rise into the mainstream, with more refined and better-looking masks from their MySpace era masks.
This album has quite a lot of aggression and an overwhelming amount of explicit language might I add. Like, the kind of aggression and explicit stuff you’d expect from 2008 when the world was extremely different and a whole lot less PC. Memories.
Unfortunately Deuce’s time with Hollywood Undead would end in 2010 after multiple issues involving touring and creative differences.
The band recruited Daniel Murillo who would be known simply as Danny in the band to take Deuce’s place, while Deuce basically makes an entire album dedicated to crapping on the band and threatening death upon them, with some songs of his members of Nine Lives threatening to kill the members of Hollywood Undead. Classy.
Y’know, in a way it kinda reminds me of Bakugo since he’s always ready to explode at literally anything Deku does, which is pretty much what Deuce did. For one album however, compared to the four seasons of MHA.
A year after Danny joined, the band released their second album, American Tragedy in April 2011, which gave the band a newer sound and a much newer look compared to before with a more hard rock sound, while sticking with some of their roots of an electronic hip-hop sound. Personally a classic in their lineup of albums with an entire album full of really good songs. Not much to say about this album, but it was the start of the Danny era.
Notes From The Underground
A personal favorite in both mask designs and music, this album kicks the door down for the band into a more mainstream audience in its January 2013 release. I mean if one of your songs makes it to a WWE Pay Per View, you know you’ve made it one way or another. It’s the second album to be in the top 10 of the Billboard 200, peaking at #2. Easily my favorite album all around from both a lyrical and compositional standpoint, as well as their kick-ass masks. Highly recommend you to give this album a listen.
Day of the Dead
I’m a bit torn on this 2015 release, but I generally like it. Some songs I can listen to on repeat, some are just one and done for a few days and then I’m back to listening to them. Their masks were alright, but Danny’s mask I envy because chainmail is awesome. A good album with a much more different sound from the previous.
Probably the most literal album name as it was the fifth album by the band, it also saw the departure of Da Kurlzz from the band as he wanted to go his own direction musically on October 10th, 2017, two and a half weeks before the album released on the 27th of that month. There has been no replacement for him, as the band to this day has continued on as a five-person band, with a touring drummer.
I actually do not like this album at all, outside of four songs I consistently listen to. Unfortunately, they went a little too hip-hop for my taste in this album and it was overall forgettable outside the songs Renegade, California Dreaming, Ghost Beach and Whatever It Takes. Also, the masks were a massive downgrade compared to before, but this was because the band was moving away from masks, and they weren’t joking. Also, I didn’t listen to the EP Psalms so I’m not reviewing or talking about it.
And now the album that we’re reviewing today:
New Empire Vol.1
Y’know, this is actually a pretty good album. The backstory to this album is they want to start anew completely, which I can tell from the way the songs are, and the fact that they’ve officially ditched the masks, which kinda suck, but hey, it’s their decision after all.
This album straddles the line of rap-rock and rap-metal as some of the songs can pass as modern-day heavy metal if it wasn’t for the band’s well-known history of being a rap-rock band. The album starts out with the song Time Bomb and man what a bomb to start out with. It’s a song that would definitely open up a pit and cause mayhem at a concert, and it got my blood pumping when listening to it.
Heart of a Champion is the next song and it’s a pretty good song in its own right with pretty good lyrics and a nice beat and composition to boot. Already Dead is a pretty good song and is easily a song that I could imagine in my head as my opinion to a lot of people. Great lyrics and composition in this one too and it was the lead single of the album. Empire. My favorite song hands down, ’nuff said.
Killin It is an alright song. It’s one of those songs that it’s not something I can listen to on repeat, but overall a good song nonetheless. Enemy is another one of my favorites on this album and easily takes second best for this album, great composition and lyrics on this one as well.
Upside Down. I don’t know how to feel about this song because it feels like a punk rock song more than anything. It’s definitely a good song but it’s gonna take some time for me to get used to that type of sound. I can bet after a few listens, I’m gonna want to eat some pizza on a road trip while wearing flannel.
Second Chances is pretty alright but it’s not really something I can listen to. I need to be in a certain mood to listen to this song. And last but not least, Nightmare. Avenged Sevenfold’s version is far better, but this is still an alright song, but it’s another song where I’d need to be in a certain mood to listen to and it’s their most hip-hop heavy song on the whole album. Also no they actually didn’t cover their song, they just have the same name is all.
No joke, but if you listened to this album, doesn’t it sound like something Bakugo would listen to? Although I haven’t seen MHA, which I know everyone is now gonna tell me to stop writing and get watchin’, but from the memes and jokes and some bits and pieces I’ve seen mostly about him, this is an album I feel like he’d probably listen to, given his attitude and demeanor on being the absolute best hero to exist. Not too sure about the whole “starting anew” thing since MHA really isn’t too much in my memory, and from what I’ve seen, Bakugo seems about as stubborn as a loose brick in a building, but in case it is, someone can give me a shout on that.
The band has been around for 15 years at this point and they’ve had a very strong 15-year career through all the rough issues they had starting off with Shady Jeff and Deuce, but the band managed to find a new sound and new ways to reinvent themselves every single album, and this album is certainly no different, as this album is a big U-turn from Five and went in a direction where they’re going to make their new empire. Apparently as well, the band will be making a second volume to this album later this year, and I’m interested already, so you can bet when that comes out, an article will be written about it.
I highly recommend listening to this album.