Hollywood Undead – New Empire Vol. 2 (Album Review)

California’s Hollywood Undead has been around since 2005 and they have been busy ever since! With an easily recognizable sound that combines the strong rhythms of Hip Hop with Rock-influenced arrangements, as well as dueling vocals, the band has built a name for themselves for being one in a million. Catchy and energetic yet honest and true, the Hip Hop Rock outfit—or Industrial Hip Hop band—is ready to drop some new music yet again with New Empire Vol. 2 on Friday, December 4th via BMG/Dove & Grenade Media.

The follow-up to February 2020’s New Empire Vol. 1, unlike its more succinct sibling, New Empire Vol. 2 comes with 12 tracks and they all appear to be deeply personal. Some of the most vulnerable include “Medicate,” “Gonna Be Okay,” “Coming Home,” and “Monster,” though the entire album is worth listening to closely. The group’s catchy arrangements make it easy for listeners to keep their focus on the music without experiencing the temptation to drift off. But the same can be said for most Hollywood Undead material, right?

Throughout New Empire Vol. 2, only three songs feature guest artists. The first of these three is a new edition of “Heart Of A Champion,” which features the talents of Jacoby Shaddix from Papa Roach and Spencer Charnas of Ice Nine Kills. These are two amazing artists from two bands that Hollywood Undead toured Europe with earlier in 2020, that is, until COVID-19 changed the world of music entirely by putting an abrupt stop to live music. But, at least, in the studio these three bands can continue making music. That said, the bond they have forged is very strong and this is clear throughout the song. The track bursts with emotions, strength and positivity, and the listener is left behind wanting more. In fact, there could even be a full album-length collaboration between these three bands and no one would mind. So let’s hope that Hollywood Undead, Ice Nine Kills and Papa Roach can eventually continue their joint tour, and maybe we will get such an album.

The last two songs interestingly carry the same title but feature two different artists. The first version of “Idol” features the German band Ghøstkid, who also did two versions of their own song “This Is Not Hollywood,” which was released on their most recent album. The second version of “Idol” features Kurt92, a Russian Hip Hop artist. To add further dimensions to the music, each artist performs their part in their native language; so the Ghøstkid part on “Idol” is in German, and the Kurt92 part is in Russian. This means that listeners can find three versions of “Idol” on this album: one by Hollywood Undead themselves, one with Ghøstkid and one with Kurt92. Each one of the three sounds similar and yet places its very own spin on the story. 

It is a quite interesting approach for Hollywood Undead to gather the songs with collaborations at the very end of the album, effectively guaranteeing that they will not distract the listener from the band’s other songs. Also, the idea of having two different artists create individual versions of the same song, and then placing them next to each other on the album, is a great way of pointing out different sides to the same story—or simply giving each guest artist some room to add their unique piece to the tale.

Ultimately, with New Empire Vol. 2, Hollywood Undead has released yet another brilliant set of new music. An album filled with energy and strength, it will empower each listener and spread positivity, despite the fact that some of the songs are quite harsh and aggressive here and there. But overall the listener can hear the passion, heart, and soul that Hollywood Undead has put into each song, and that is why Cryptic Rock gives the album 5 out of 5 stars. 

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