An incredibly well-crafted, studio-based commercial pop-rap album with rock credibility…
Released on 27 October 2017 by Dove & Grenade Media and reviewed by Ian Savage
Rap-rock gets some bad press these days. With early-years breakthrough artists like Limp Bizkit, Kid Rock and N*E*R*D currently side-lined by personnel troubles, solo careers and ill-advised political posturing, there’s kind of a dearth of bands doing credible hip-hop with up-front guitars and aggressive rhythm sections.
Hollywood Undead have been working through that for a decade or so. Following tours with Avenged Sevenfold and Stone Sour, they cemented their place in the pantheon back in 2010 and have since cracked the Billboard Top Twenty with three albums in a row.
‘Five’, in the band’s words, represents the points on a star, the number of members of the band, the number of human senses, and, crucially, the fact that this is HU’s fifth album. It certainly kicks off with all five knuckles showing, lead-off single ‘California Dreaming’ being an amalgam of massive riffage, shared verses and a huge sing-along chorus; it’s hard to imagine this not going down a storm with a mainstream hard rock crowd live.
The album shifts around a lot following that early-doors rock-out. The distorted guitars never fully disappear, but they’re often relegated to a supporting role behind more electronic and processed instrumental ‘beds’. It’s no bad thing; this is a rap record first and a rock record second, so there’s a lot more slinky electronic stuff going on than you’d expect from a Linkin Park album, for the sake of argument.
There’s an awful lot here for fans of later-era Fall Out Boy and their ilk (‘We Own The Night’ pretty much steals the hook from ‘My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark’ wholesale); despite coming at the genre from opposite sides, Hollywood Undead and FOB seem to have arrived at the same palatable rap/rock/pop hybrid. There’s plenty of lyrical aggression (‘Cashed Out’, ‘Renegade’), tempered with the odd acoustic-based tune like ‘Ghost Beach’, but it’s very hard to imagine a group of guys in a room hammering these tunes out.
This is an album aimed at a popular market, and it’ll find it; if you’re after a challenging hybrid of styles, look elsewhere. If you want an incredibly well-crafted studio-based commercial pop-rap album with some overdriven guitars and rock credibility, you’ve got it.
- California Dreaming
- Whatever It Takes
- Bad Moon
- Ghost Beach
- Broken Record
- Nobody’s Watching
- Black Cadillac (feat. B-Real)
- Pray (Put ’Em In The Dirt)
- Cashed Out
- We Own The Night
- Bang Bang
- Your Life