To me, based on their image and musical sound, Hollywood Undead have always been the band that have looked at Slipknot and Linkin Park and said something like, "Oh year, we totally understand kind of personal traumas from growing up that Corey Taylor and Chester Bennington had and have put into their music, I remember when my Mom wouldn't let me watch TV after 8:30pm. Of course, that might be completely wrong, but you understand what I'm referring to.
At least I don't feel any different from the time I attempted to listen to 2011's American Tragedy. There's such an obvious formula worked into this album, obviously open on a high note with the band's "badass" party-anthem Dead Bite, which with it's rendition of "Goodnight/ Sleep tight/ Don't let the dead bite." (Woah! Edgy!") Lead rapper Johnny 3 Tears obviously builds up the song into a big hook for the chorus, as he states his smile was "Born from amphetamines" as convincingly as a private school boy from Oxfordshire.
Of course, the party songs (And there really is no there way to describe them as than "party songs." It's not like they have much other merit as anything else) aren't really in such a high amount but when they are there, it's dreadfully clear that they're arrived. Mr. um... Mr. Tears' brain capacity and creativity sounds like it hasn't expanded past the age of seven. Pigskin opens with "I'm so icy, like ice cream." Well done sir. As it continues, we are also warned that Tears might just "Nibble on your ear like my name is Mike Tysie." At least you tried, lad. At least you tried. The highlight of the part anthems has to be the wonderful Up in Smoke in which the band really show Snoop Dogg who the true kings of smoking weed are, with the triumphant claims of baritone rapper J-Dog that "I fuck with a six pack, bong or a zig-zag" and "Fuck the 5-0 my middle fingers are up." I bet thousands and thousands of twelve year old kids will go on to feel extremely hard after hearing those lyrics and take photos of themselves in front of their mirrors of the bathroom of their middle class suburban homes with their iPhones flipping the bird as they relate to songs about how hard life is. Good luck to them. In finding a copy of Led Zeppelin IV as soon as possible.
Of course, we mustn't worry about Hollywood Undead corrupting our youth. They always have that ability to place a work of sensitive rap rock balladry after each party anthem with the juxtaposition-placing subtlety of playing Slayer on your phone speakers in the middle of a fucking church sermon! Pigskin's declarations of being as cool as a frozen yogurt with sugary chemicals pumped into the mix is immediately followed by Rain where Tears then decides he wants to do emotion fueled rapping so he can be more like Eminem. D'awww, you go for it wee man! But, by this point, the emotional songs are nothing more than sympathy seeking with songwriting featuring Tear's rapped verses and the clean cut choruses of clean vocalist Charlie Scene that doesn't even try to cover up the complete robbery of Linkin Park's structures. The only exception to the rule is displayed by the genuinely thrashy riff unleashed by J-Dog across From the Ground which is unexpected and serves as a highlight of the entire album as it will be the only time we will hear a piece of music in which it sounds like a riff that could be heard on a recent Megadeth album put on top of a backdrop that sounds like it was ripped off from Coldplay's The Scientist.
Other than that little shot of weirdness, Hollywood Undead have done absolutely nothing to advance themselves from being one of the most unfortunate names to make it big in modern rock music. The same songwriting formula that has already graced Swan Songs and American Tragedy can be heard all over again, only the party lyrics are lamer than before. And I can see people coming back and saying that those party songs are written so they can do something fun. Of course not. They're not DZ Deathrays writing songs about staying up and partying for the sake of it. It's quite clearly label executives telling them that rap songs about getting high will appeal to pre-teens across America. I mean, if songs about that would have appealed to kids thirteen years ago, then Hybrid Theory would have all kinds of trashy party lyrics and the only Papercut Mike Shinoda would talk about would be the one he got while rolling a joint. Notes From the Underground is nothing more than a marketers dream made without any care. And the entire band effort comes out as synthetic and pretty embarrassing for the band and anyone would call themselves a fan. Hollywood Undead are just a comedy rock band. And it's an old joke being told at a corporate gig.
Hollywood Undead's Notes From the Underground is out now via Polydor.