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Released: Jan 8, 2013
Genre: Nu-Metal, Alternative Rock, Hip-Hop
Label: Polydor, Universal
Number Of Tracks: 11
"Notes From The Underground" is less of a fusion of genres, but more of a take different genres and put them in the same song/album attitude.
Notes From The UndergroundFeatured review by: UG Team, on january 09, 2013 2 of 14 people found this review helpful
Sound: The Hollywood Undead is a relatively new band in the grand scheme of things. Theoretically, Hollywood Undead is a mash-up of alternative rock with rap and hip-hop. Their first album was released in 2008 and it sold well as did its follow up, "American Tragedy". This album, their third, is the first since the departure of Hollywood Undead's lead singer, Deuce, in 2010.
First off, let me just say that I have never heard the music of the Hollywood Undead before. Second, I am not a fan of computer created tracks or rap and hip-hop music in general because of this. When I looked up the instruments played by each band member, two of them were listed as their instrument being "screaming" while another was in charge of keyboards, synthesizers, and PROGRAMMING. Along with this, the band only began using a bass player in 2011, not a crime, but you can see where this is going. So, some might say I am biased. I will try to be unbiased, though as a guitarist, especially on this website, I hope you see where I'm coming from.
As to the review, the album starts out with "Dead Bite", a semi-interesting starter that attempts to blend rock and rap melodies. The rapping here makes sense and a sense of rock breaks through, so I don't immediately dislike the album after this song. Heavy guitar is there, just playing power chords, but it's still somewhat interesting.
The second song, "From The Ground", is where the sh** hits the fan. It starts with a kindred piano part, almost poppy. Without warning, the song turns into thrash metal, and then just as quickly changes into a synth powered verse and back again. The refrain after the chorus is soft, back to a mainstream feel. But, then it breaks back into thrash and the cycle continues over again. There's innovative and then there's this attempt. This song is all over the place.
"Another Way Out" starts with a techno-like beat and then turns into the hip-hop/rap/mainstream/dance music that I spend my whole day trying to avoid on the radio. For that type of crowd, this might seem fairly fun and entertaining. But, for me and for many of the users on UG, it decidedly isn't.
"Lion" begins with the same type of piano part as "From The Ground". To the contrary of that song, there is a nice transition into an average alternative rock rhythm that continues on without rapping and would actually please me if there was a little more of it on the album.
There's the variety of the songs I mentioned above and then there's stuff like "Pigskin" which is solely rap and hip-hop with hardly any guitar parts. This song is the type of stuff that has already saturated the market and is probably not meant for an audience like us. If you're honestly looking for music like this, turn to the professionals of this genre or the many rap artists mentioned in puns in UG comment sections. Many of the songs on the album feature prominent sections like those featured in this song, usually preceded by the same type of piano into from "From The Ground", sometimes with a guitar instead of a piano.
The only exceptions are "Dead Bite" and "Kill Everyone", my favorite song from the album. It is actually far less metal-core than the certain parts from "From The Ground" and is based more fully on the alternative rock sound that creeps around this album. The hip-hop influences are still visible, but they mesh well with the guitars and the transition to the chorus is great. I don't know why, but I like the drums on this song the best because, like the hip-hop parts, it meshes extremely well.
Production wise, this album is strong, one of the only strong parts of it. The producer is able to balance this smorgasbord (in a negative way) of material and give it some taste that can apply to all listeners. // 4
Lyrics: While I don't necessarily enjoy the rap and hip-hop vocal presentation, I can't quite fault them for it. They did manage to get a vocal slot for every member of the group at one point or another and the raps themselves didn't seem any worse than the regular mainstream stuff I hear. One place where the Hollywood Undead did excel was the overdubbing of the vocals, though I can't tell if they're auto tuned or not. Odds are they aren't. The harmonies worked fairly well and the effects used on the vocals, while I detest them in principle, do fit the music well. Still, the vocal performance is average at best.
Again, it's probably not meant for an audience like us, though while I'm reviewing it, I will reiterate that the users of this website will have heard it before at best and hate it with a growing passion at worst.
Lyrically, the album is average, the lyrics aren't incredibly simple or I'll fitted, but they certainly aren't excellent. Here are some examples:
"Kill Everyone" - "Somebody's dyin', so come say goodbye, kids. Don't even try to take this weapon from me. I like you more and more the less that you breathe. I've come undone, I think I'll kill everyone. My, what have I done? Fu** you, let's kill everyone. I've come undone, I think I'll kill everyone. My, what have I done? Fu** you, let's kill everyone."
"Dead Bite" - "What would you do if I told you I hate you? What would you do if your life's on the line? What would you say if I told you I hate you? I've got something that'll blow your mind, mind."
"Lion" - "Here's a story of everything we'll ever be. You can hide but some of us can never leave. And if you go I don't need those little things. They remind me of all our little dreams. Can you hear the words? All I can say. We can watch the world, even if they walk away. Forget about tomorrow, tomorrow is today. You were born a lion and a lion you will stay."
Overall Impression: Overall, "Notes From The Underground" is less of a fusion of genres, but more of a take different genres and put them in the same song/album attitude. Each song is a total hit or miss affair depending on your musical sensibilities. Certain songs are total rap and hip-hop like "Rain" and "Pigskin" while others are more rock oriented like "Dead Bite" and "Kill Everyone" and others are just a total crapshoot, combining genres with no oversight or transitions, like "From The Ground". While a select few may find this style groundbreaking and a breath of fresh air, I think that is all bubkiss.
Again, maybe to a different audience, the result would be different, but for the gigging rock guitarists that I and many of us are, I just don't see it. This album isn't all bad. It has its highlights in "Dead Bite", "Kill Everyone", and overall production quality, but in total, "Notes From The Underground" is a folly attempt, in my opinion, not just in style, but also in taste and feel.
Still, I encourage the casual listener to; try a few songs to see if this is your style though it certainly wasn't mine. // 3
Notes From The Underground
KentHawkings, on february 04, 2013 1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Sound: "Notes From The Underground" marks the third studio album from Rap Rock group Hollywood Undead and is the SECOND album since the departure of front-man Deuce. According to the group the recording process of this album would be different from their previous offering, "American Tragedy", with band member Charlie Scene stating: "I would say that this time the label gave us full creative control. I think it's going to be more like 'Swan Songs' than 'American Tragedy'. It'll be a mixture of both; I mean, we all grow as artists, we get older, and we've been doing it a long time so I think it'll be more like 'Swan Songs' and I think the fans are gonna like it a lot. The songs that have been released indicate a style of Hollywood Undead less similar to the harder rock sound of 'American Tragedy', and more similar to the rapping sound of 'Swan Songs'."
This statement immediately set off alarm bells in my head. Songs like "Glory", "Been To Hell" and "Sell Your Soul" (among others) have proved that the band is capable of producing decent alternative/nu metal songs with emotionally charged lyrics that relate to today's youth and yet the band seems intent on releasing frivolous "dance" songs with vacuous, shallow (and sometimes even borderline misogynistic) lyrics.
It seems however that for the most part my trepidation was unfounded. Luckily this album offers a pleasant surprise with "We Are" and "Lion" exhibiting a more mature sound with powerful nu-metal style.
As with their previous offerings HU manage to achieve this invigorating, infectious energy in the majority of their songs. Prime examples would be "Kill Everyone" and "Dead Beat". While neither song offers groundbreaking lyrics they offer aggressive verses (with heavy funk emphasis in "Kill Everyone") and excellent rap flow, particularly from Scene. Another, more intriguing example would be "Another Way Out". Although it remains somewhat out of place on a nu-metal album with it's heavily dance influenced sound it has an infectious energy and I could help but finding myself moving along with the beat.
"From The Ground" offers one hell of a roller-coaster ride to the listener; with the verse delivering clean, soulful lyrics from Danny and the chorus launching into heavy, metalcore style guitar and drums with screaming vocals from Scene and J-Dog. This song also showcases the vocal interplay of the members which remains a strong point of the group, particularly with Danny providing clean vocals and J3T, J-Dog and Charlie Scene providing rap with great flow. // 8
Lyrics: While metal fans would be able to appreciate the energy of the songs and the album as a whole the lyrics of many of the songs are likely to alienate them. As with the band's previous albums the lyrics are what stand out as HU's largest pitfall. Many of the songs comprise of two contrasting and non-complementary musical styles. On the one hand the instrumental aspects of the music are solid nu-metal and alternative metal; comprising heavy guitar riffs and whereas the lyrical aspects of the music are heavily and hip-hop (and sometimes even gangster rap) related; with the song "Up In Smoke" having lines such as:
"So everybody get down like you just got out of rehab.
I'm so high
I'm so high
Oh no the bottle's low
And I can't feel my face no mo
Oh no we up in smoke
And I can't feel my face no mo."
Sitting firmly in the middle of the spectrum of lyrical value are the songs as "Dead Bite", "Kill Everyone" and "Another Way Out" which are neither groundbreaking nor devoid of any lyrical value but rather leave the listener feeling rather underwhelmed. "Dead Bite" and "Kill Everyone" speak of seemingly needless violence and malevolence without any kind of context under which these acts should be performed. On the other the lyrics of "Another Way Out" can simply be described a frivolous (although completely "inoffensive") dance music although they are still likely to leave metal fans unimpressed.
This is not to say however that this album is devoid of lyrical
value. "We Are" particularly showcases the full potential of the band to provide the "angsty" but mature lyrics with more than just face value; showing empathy for today's youth. "Believe" and "Lion" show a more introspective side of the band; with Danny providing clean vocals to the surprisingly emotionally charged lyrics with a more melancholy tone. I applauded "Rain" and "Outside" with their surprisingly darker lyrics which is a refreshing new direction for the band to try and take and remain surprisingly thought provoking.
Overall however this album has more lyrical value than not but still remains the bands weakest point. Hopefully songs like "We Are" are indicative of the future direction of the band rather than "Up In Smoke". // 6
Overall Impression: Time and time again Hollywood Undead have exhibited their potential to create powerful, lyrically emotional anthems such as "We Are" and "Lion" which remain the groups saving grace from the artistic voids that are "Up In Smoke" and "Pigskin". As such I anticipate the bands next offering in the hopes that they opt to take a more mature root in their songs and prune the more vacuous "dance" side of their music.
In the end I would venture to say that this is HU's best album to date as overall the "good" of the album is enough to mostly over-shadow the "bad" elements of the album and I certainly recommend it to any nu-metal and alternative metal fans out there. // 7
Notes From The Underground
eastwdbois, on february 04, 2013 1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Sound: Hollywood Undead are a great mix of Hip-Hop/Rap and Rock/Metal. For me, this album was a great follow up to the previous album "American Tragedy and I had been excited for it since I heard that it was being recorded. It is the 2nd album with the singer Danny who filled Deuce's place after his departure. The album cover isn't brilliant but don't let that put you off... The album opens with the song "Dead Bite" which is one of the more rock orientated songs on the album which features a contribution from John 5. The lyrics are lighthearted and it is a great opening track.
As well as rock orientated tracks this album also features a number of party tracks. These include "Pigskin", "Up In Smoke", "Delish" and "One More Bottle". This adds a nice variety to the album and these songs are good fun. "From The Ground" also proves that Hollywood Undead have a heavier side with the screamed pre-chorus and the double-bass pedal fueled bridge. // 8
Lyrics: Like the last two albums, this album also features fun party lyrics and more sincere ones. Charlie Scene is known for his fun lyrics and he has added to his arsenal with this album. For example "You got nowhere to run too, so, don't try hiding, 'Cause I'm known to be like Jack Nicholson from 'The Shining'" and "Who created this madman, who puts a match stick in your a-s crack, and makes you lap dance on a gas can." He also has some more serious and meaningful lines like:
"You know that some of us grow old, with no homes,
Some of us die in a cold house, with no hope
Still surrounded by the people you don't know, so don't go
Cause once it's over the time fades your photo
How many goodbyes can fit in a lifetime?"
The song "Delish" in which Funnyman takes all the verses makes me laugh even though I don't want it with the line "I'm so high like Mary Poppins, Super-Cali-Fraja, Yo suck my d-ck!" Yes, I'm ashamed. The song "Lion" is allegedly the next installment carrying on from the Johnny 3 Tears songs "Paradise Lost" ("Swan Songs") and "S.C.A.V.A." ("American Tragedy").
"Remember an army, of all those little kids
Living life like they only get a little bit
It's hard to fight when you're born in the middle and
I'd rather die, won't watch you giving in
I'm sorry daughter but your father's not the same
I can look into your eyes and I'll swear that I will change
But tomorrow is tomorrow so forgive me if I stay
You can hide beneath the covers while I hide behind the pain"
Overall, the lyrics are good, but I don't think they live up to the standard they set on "Swan Songs" and "American Tragedy". // 7
Overall Impression: I still haven't got bored off this album and I have had it on a loop since it came out on the 8th. I think it is a solid follow up to "American Tragedy" and has the perfect balance between more sinister songs and party based tracks. In this album, Hollywood Undead show that they can make a perfect fusion between genres and they make it work brilliantly, from the rock anthems like "We Are" to the fun songs like "Up In Smoke".
My favorite song on this album is "Kill Everyone" which is Charlie Scene's solo song. It is heavy with a cool guitar riff in the background and starts with him chanting the line "You got the motherf--king right to remain violent!" What could go wrong?
The only criticism I have (apart from the album cover but that isn't important) is the production on the song "Pigskin" since the transitions are awful. There is something on this album for everybody and I appreciate that not everyone likes the whole rapping thing, but there is no excuse to not give it a go (even if it's just for the 2 or 3 heavier songs!). // 8