Sound — 8
For the review, I'll be referring to the special edition of the album, which adds four new tracks. This review is coming from someone who's listened through most of their old material, so forgive me if I make too many references to their first album. Also this is my first review. :) Hollywood Undead certainly has gone through a lot. From first gaining fame from their work on Myspace, to finally scoring a record deal, making a success from their debut album, Swan Songs, going on to making a live DVD compilation along with a few more songs in Desperate Measures, but then hitting a snag when they faced problems that led to the departure of one of the band's key members, Deuce a.k.a Tha Producer. But even with this setback, they stood up a created a new album, American Tragedy. The album starts of strong with Been To Hell. From the first few seconds of the track, their style has evidently changed, with a heavier emphasis on guitars and drums than on any of their past material. Next up comes Apologize, which has a more hip-hop influence to it, but still keeps the drums and the guitar, giving it a nu-metal flavor. It's similar to a song from their past album, which would be California. It has a "swagger" like feel to it, which actually projects a very nice, chill mood. Comin' In Hot is more influenced on hip-hop and rap than it is on rock. The guitar takes a break for a while, as the song relies more on a synthesizer and more hip-hop sounding beats. The fourth track from the album, My Town, doesn't feel as powerful as the first three tracks. It has a "gangster" feel, but the way it was executed leaves a lot to be desired. In a way, it's like another track from their first album, a track called Pimpin'. It had a nice feel to it, but still felt a bit weak. The album gets back up with I Don't Wanna Die. It has a darker tone to it, with some classical piano sounds, and a more emo-style tone to its guitar and its beats. Hear Me Now, the first single they released from the album, isn't half bad. It has a style similar to an old-school Linkin Park, infusing a synthesizer with guitar throughout the entire song. The bad part about this song is it marks a more mainstream sound to their music with its feel. Gangsta Sexy is another hip-hop influenced song. It's nothing special, but its sound is too similar to the hip-hop we hear from artists, which doesn't fly with me in terms of originality. The track Glory brings back the nu-metal feel, but like Gangsta Sexy, its nothing special. And just like Gangsta Sexy, it sounds like material you would hear a lot, which just makes it a generic track, which doesn't set it apart from other songs. Things pick up with Lights Out, which takes a stab at their former singer, Deuce. It's one of the strongest songs of the album, having a more nu-metal feel than any of the earlier tracks, and it keeps the old school Hollywood Undead mood alive, with all of the curses and synthesizers and all the old school HU stuff you were accustomed to. It's a nice piece of work, but it's diminished by the next track. Coming Back Down attempts and utterly fails at producing an acoustic rap. Even if the new singer, Danny, performs the chorus pretty well, the rapped out verses are almost painful to listen to. Considering that HU has made other mellow songs like The Diary and Circles, this is a really big disappointment. It's easily the weakest track of the whole album. Bullet makes up for the track before it. It actually has a cute tone to it, and it has a sarcastic tone to it, talking about suicide with a happy feel to it. The track is even capped of with a young girl singing, which gives it a unexplainable, but a very nice, mellow feel to it. Levitate is one of the stronger songs from the album. Even remixed to fit into a Need For Speed trailer, it has a nice fast feel to it. It's one of those "psych up" songs that just screams at you to get up of your ass and do something insane. Pour Me sounds a lot like The Diary, yet another track from the band's debut album, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. It delivers a lot more than Coming Back Down does, and with good reason. Although it doesn't sound depressing or powerful at first, a good listen at it, and you feel something. Like Bullet, it gives an unexplainable, but nice feel to it. Tendencies is a track similar to Levitate in terms of the fast and heavy feel, but retains Been To Hell's beautiful emphasis on the rock sound. It's a track you wish would have been emulated more times in the album. Although Hollywood Undead is best known for infusing rap elements with rock, Mother Murder takes that description and brings it to a new height. It starts off with a nu-metal sounding scratching sound, followed by a little plinking keyboard riff that sounds straight out of a Japanese anime, then jumps to a metal-sounding part that's accentuated by a screamo-sounding "There's blood on my hands!" cry. It has rapped out verses comparable to Eminem's song, Kim, which they executed very beautifully, but is only an appetizer for one of the best choruses I've ever heard in recent memory. Easily the best song on the album. Lump Your Head brings back a fun sounding Hollywood Undead. It's the one song on the album that reminds you the most about what HU is about. It has a satisfying American gangster/Al Capone feel and tone, which makes it another strong track on the album. Le Deux is actually the weakest of the four tracks added to the album, but it's better than most track on the album. It's got a feel not too far from Levitate, but it just doesn't feel as strong as it should. The deluxe version is capped off with the powerful track, S.C.A.V.A.. It sounds like a continuation of the ending track of the first album, Paradise Lost, both being the last tracks of the albums, both accentuated with an orchestra-like feel, having a more rock-ballad like chorus. The track is basically just a trip down memory lane, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. All in all, the album feels like a roller coaster. The quality of the album goes up and down too many times, but it doesn't let you go so easily. Although there were many exceptional tracks on the album, there's just too many flaws in it to give it a perfect score. All in all, 8/10.
Lyrics — 7
The album has a more mainstream approach to it, and it's certainly affected some of the lyrics put into the songs. The heavy curses and profane language they were famous for is now nearly completely absent, which makes the album a bit weaker. Although there were points where their lyrics shone, there's not much that sets them apart from other rappers now. J-Dog has a more prominent vocal role in the album now, rapping a lot more than he did in Swan Songs, but his verses now are actually a bit diminished. In the first album, his raps were fast, hard-hitting, and very complex. Now, his verses are a bit sloppier than his past work. Charlie Scene comes back as the crazy party smoker and drinker persona everyone was accustomed to in the past album. Although he curses a lot less, he still manages to sneak in some libido and profanity within in his verses. Funny Man now actually raps in the more hardcore songs, taking off from his earlier gimmick where he only rapped in the more hip-hop and comedic songs, to good effect. His verses are actually much better sounding now, with an edgier feel than his past material, which just basically revolved around smoking and drinking and having sex. Da Kurlzz takes on the drums for the entire album, him having no verse at all. But whenever he screams, it still sounds as powerful as ever. Just wish he would rap more, seeing as how good his verses in songs like Christmas in Hollywood and in The Natives were. Most of the pressure was on Danny, since he was replacing one of the band's founding members. Although other people would like to see Deuce back in the band, personally, I wouldn't mind Danny replacing him. His choruses were delivered very well, and he might as well keep up the good work. The most disappointing from the six crazy MCs would be Johnny 3 Tears. In the first and even in the band's other earlier works, he would have some of the most hardcore sounding verses and raps in the band. Hearing him talk about true love just doesn't really fit him. I've already mentioned about how badly Coming Back Down went, but his verse in Levitate seems to be where he stumbled down the most. His verse starts off really nicely, sounding like the old school Johnny 3 Tears, "So I'll paint the walls, red drip from the nose / But where it goes, nobody really knows. / Hit the bottle and she's gonna follow." but then he starts saying: "Who needs you when I got my baby? / My baby's beautiful, she loves me true. / And if she dies, I hope I die too." It just ruined what would've been a great verse, actually. In the other songs, he still retains the whole dark emo rapper tone we were accustomed to listening to in the band's earlier songs, but for the most part, they make fans who've heard his past works cringe. Final say is that the jump to mainstream hasn't really been good on all of the lyrics of HU, so I have to say 7/10 for the lyrics.
Overall Impression — 8
I don't really need to say anything else about the album, since I typed it out in painful detail up there. (Sorry if it was too long!) Bottom line is, it's not as good as their first album, but it carries it's own weight, and it's better than most of the crap you'd hear on our radios and music stations today. All in all, for keeping rapcore pretty much alive, 8/10.