First things first, HOLLYWOOD UNDEAD is not your typical ‘metal’ band so let’s not judge them as that. They are where hip hop meets metal meets radio rock. They are the disciples of KoRn and Hed PE. They are what Brokencyde aspires to be – rap rockers influenced by hip hop, west coast living and skateboard culture. HOLLYWOOD UNDEAD took the masses by storm when they unleashed ‘Swan Songs’ nearly 3 years ago – but they stepped it up a notch with their latest, ‘American Tragedy’.
Better production is the first thing that I notice here. In the past, HOLLYWOOD UNDEAD enlisted the skills of their in-house producer/singer Deuce who abruptly parted ways with the band during their 2-year touring cycle. His skills aren’t missed however, as the band sounds polished, louder and more ballsy than their first outing. Another positive new addition comes in the form of Deuce’s replacement vocalist, Danny Murillo, whose vocal range sounds something like Chester Bennington meets Name-That-00s-Screamo-Singer for a powerful punch that Deuce was never able to provide the group.
The album isn’t without fault however and as you go deeper, the songs tend to make less-and-less sense for a band like HOLLYWOOD UNDEAD. “Coming Back Down” sounds like it would fit better on a Backstreet Boys album, “Bullet” sounds like what any 22-year-old with a Natty Ice between his Abercrombie sandals would strum at a frat party and “Pour Me” sounds like Panic! at the Disco. At times, it almost sounds like Danny’s great pop vocal changes the band’s sound too much and leaves them sounding like a struggling heavy pop band. BUT, for every weird move the band makes, there is a club-banging, guitar grinding cut that is bound to make you nod your head and your girlfriend shake her ass.
“Glory” is vintage HOLLYWOOD UNDEAD, as is “Comin’ In Hot” (which actually alerted me to the vocal similarities of Funny Man and recently deceased hip hop icon Nate Dogg). “Hear Me Now” turns into Danny’s shining moment, his passionate, spot-on performance should leave no doubt with fans that HU found not only A replacement for Deuce, but a BETTER musician than Deuce.
All in all, I would say that this album is a lot of fun and certainly leaves one-liners, hooks and beats in your head. At times, things got weird and occasionally auto-tune was a little overdone, but this is a great record that I anticipate will bring a whole crop of new fans to HOLLYWOOD UNDEAD’s growing army. That is, if they do better touring.