Review || Hollywood Undead - "New Empire Vol. 2"

Despite the overall madness in the world, and as ironic as it may be, this is probably Hollywood Undead's year. The band kicked off 2020 by dropping the first part of their "double feature", "New Empire Vol. 1" , followed by hitting the road with Papa Roach and Ice Nine Kills. The plan was to release the albums back-to-back, within a period of six weeks. Life The pandemic, however, happened and both the tour and release schedule were inevitably disrupted, but the magic wasn't over yet. Over time, the band confirmed the impending release of "New Empire Vol. 2", released a couple of singles and even teased a video with Papa Roach's Jacoby Shaddix and INK's Spencer Charnas. To everyone's surprise, it was a new rendition of the single "Heart Of A Champion", recorded back in January in view of the joint tour, featuring the two guest vocalists. Time has finally come and the second installment of "New Empire" will become available to the public on December 4th via BMG/Dove & Grenade Music.

I was lucky (and very enthusiastic) to receive my promo copy ahead of time so I could properly enjoy it. Consisting of ten tracks, it is a new dive into the band's peculiar world. The album kicks off with "Medicate", a catchy song with major pop-punk/A-Day-To-Remember-ish vibes dressing a Hollywood Undead core. I definitely didn't see that coming but I'm not disappointed, experimentation is inherent in HU's sound. Up next is "Comin' Thru The Stereo", and we are met with the sonic landscape we are familiar with. The guest here is rapper Hyro The Hero, who is known for his rock/post hardcore collaborations. The chemistry is lovely as the song expands and I love the big chorus and bridge hook. "Ghost Out" weighs more on the hip hop side while "Gonna Be Okay" is more on the anthemic side. The guitars on the verses are just as heavy as they should be, leaving the choruses more terse with the electronic elements dominating them. "Monsters" features producer/songwriter Killstation and I think the overall feel of the song is not that different from what he introduced in his recent album. The track is structurally complex and we see a beautiful blend of samples over a downtempo beat, that allows the listener to be lost in the hard-hitting lyrics. 

We are halfway through the record and the single "Idol" blasts. Literally. Hollywood Undead worked with Tech N9ne to create a drill/dubstep hymn that conveys a strong message. If I'm being honest, the music lost me but the lyrics kept me and I do recognize it's a banging collaboration regardless. On "Coming Home", another recent single, we see the band's softer side. I wouldn't necessarily call it a power ballad per se, but I think it's a strong asset of the album -and I could definitely see fans singing it live when shows start taking place again. Picking up the pace once more, "Unholy" blends dubstep sounds with heavy breakdowns. This is probably one of my favorite songs in the album. Similarly, "Worth It" is a love letter, I guess we could say, constructed over a trap beat. Finally, the new "Heart Of A Champion" closes the album in the most epic/anthemic way possible. I was a big fan of the original song and I most certainly am a huge fan of this version -and I may or may not have streamed the hell out of it.

Overall, "New Empire Vol. 2" completes the puzzle of this double album. Although Vol. 1 fits a little better my taste palate, Vol. 2 is definitely on par. The songs are harmonious and the fact that they reside in a similar musical spectrum really helps the album flow uninterrupted. The electronic elements vary in both style and range, and I appreciate how their diverse presence blends with the heavy guitars and the unique ideas each one of the guests brought. I'm not sure if Vol. 2 hints at a shift in the musical direction in the future, but the takeover is successful; the new empire has risen.


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