ALBUM: Hollywood Undead – Swan Songs

Release Date: May 18th, 2009
Label: Polydor
Rating: 3/10


Hollywood Undead profile

Ahh, to be 11 again. An album three years in the making, Hollywood Undead bring you their debut full-length ‘Swan Songs’. Natural precursors to rap/metal fathers Limp Bizkit, the band have created a lengthy album of shredding, intimidating keyboards and well not exactly Sugarhill Gang-esque rhymes with riffs, and some straight-up clean singing to appease people who have moved on from ‘Chocolate Starfish…’.

The band earned over 1,000,000 MySpace plays over the course of their first nine weeks of digital genesis. This led to the band signing with MySpace Records – a deal that allegedly fell apart due to the label trying to ‘censor’ the band’s album; those bastards. Why would they stifle a band with so many important things to say, following in the footsteps of other political thought songs like ‘Nookie’ and ‘Rollin’ (Air Raid Vehicle)’?

However, I’m not going to do my usual grand sweeping statements (not lazy journalism, honestly). This isn’t a straight up Bizkit rehash, not completely anyway. They’ve modernised or varied or somethinged the formula with some catchy punk-pop, like second track ‘Sell Your Soul’, and some pop rap. However, it would be easy to change your mind with the song that comes straight after it; ‘Everywhere I Go’ having the pathetically terrible hook of “Everywhere I go, bitches always know / Charlie Scene has got a weenie that he loves to show”. Come for the beats, stay for the poetry, this one is about hoes and various despicable acts related to said hoes. Fred Durst was never quite this obvious. The opener ‘Undead’ is a more straightforward (seriously) proclomation of how good they are – with swearing. Lots of that, because that’s ill. Anyway, further along this musical odyssey other highly stimulating subjects such as Los Angeles, guns and alcohol. The avid listener would notice that these topics are fairly regularly returned to, perhaps in case we didn’t understand these complex theories of bitches and how good the band are. However, this backfires (not that it was especially working in the first place) when they do admirably attempt to rhyme (with choirs and everything) on youth violence and the doomed new generations it comes across as ridiculous when you put it in the context of the misogyny and violent threats that have preceded it. Most hilarious is the ambitiously titled ‘Paradise Lost’. I mean it is about death and looking God in the eye and all that, but Milton it certainly isn’t, but a nice try to try and switch things up albeit it at the end of the album.

Musically this isn’t particularly inspiring either. I mean, there’s some very uninventive beats in there, the same power chord at frequent intervals, and basic keyboard work with different settings on it. But at least the voices are different which you would expect and hope for in a band with six guys in. I hear that guy who’s always angry, the one who sounds vaguely like Eminem and the one who insists on using the classy auto-tune sound that everyone and their dog is using these days. In fact, with the seemingly sorrowful piano samples in ‘Young’ things are getting awfully D12-like in flavour. As I began, to be 11 again. To be honest though with you fair reader, this isn’t as much like Limp Bizkit as I lured you in to begin with. That was just to give me a journalistic hook. The truth is this is more on the rap side of the rap/rock alchemy. This in truth makes it a lot worse, I mean they attempt to reference Wu-Tang Clan in ‘Bottle And A Gun’, and then on ‘California’ they do the whole angry synth strings bit. It’s kind of ‘don’t touch what you can’t in any way dream of emulate’ territory.

Truth is, this might be fun for about between 2-10 minutes depending on your tolerance level. Otherwise this is this ‘genre’ at it’s very worst and uninspired. Let us pray for this band fulfilling their own album title’s prophecy.

Written by Paul Smith