As a genre, rap-metal can sometimes get a bit of bad press, thanks in part to the fact that there’s an awful lot of dreadful acts who insist on doing it nonetheless. On the total opposite end of the spectrum though, you have great bands like HOLLYWOOD UNDEAD who have achieved genuinely massive status, particularly in their native US, from trading on a career of putting rap vocals and huge melodic hooks to crunchy nu-metal style riffing and trippy electronics. Having released their fifth studio album Five, at the tail end of last year, the band are now back touring across Europe, and we caught them at Manchester Academy to see how the new material would translate live.
THE ONE HUNDRED are first out tonight, and the Guildford mob waste absolutely no time in blasting the room’s collective faces off with a hard-hitting set of rap-metal that pulls in bits of metalcore and punk, and smashes them into bone-shaking electronics, to great effect. Frontman Jacob Field quickly establishes himself as a heavily likeable personality too – laughing and joking with the front rows in-between songs and generally being fantastic as he and his bandmates crank out track after track of punchy anthems that can’t help but feel tailor-made for big things. Pulling mostly from their 2017 album Chaos + Bliss, the four-piece demonstrate very quickly their knack for producing catchy moments in amongst the chaos, particularly shining on the likes of Monster and Boomtown, whilst simultaneously still proving that they can go seriously hard on tracks like Feast and Dark Matters. All in all, it’s a strong showing, and as they eventually close off with Downfall, THE ONE HUNDRED can rest assured that they’ve put on an absolute delight of a performance and warmed the crowd in Manchester Academy up perfectly for what’s next to come.
If tonight’s opener were an example of what Britain can do with rap-metal, then HOLLYWOOD UNDEAD are what happens when America takes the template and whacks everything up to eleven. Based on their performance tonight, it’s not too outlandish to say that HOLLYWOOD UNDEAD at this point might well have claim to being one of the most entertaining bands in rock music today. From the very second that the band begin appear on stage, there’s pandemonium, and by the time the opening strains of Whatever It Takes begin to echo from the PA, there barely seems to be a single person in the room who isn’t either bouncing, attempting to mosh, or simply cheering their head off. Launching straight into fan-favourite Undead helps keep their momentum going to a ludicrous degree too, and sets the tone perfectly for the amount of sing-alongs to come from the crowd assembled tonight. As they’re still touring in support of last year’s stellar album Five, the band obviously air a large chunk of the record across the night, with big riff-laden rock bangers like California Dreaming sitting comfortably alongside more eclectic cuts like the borderline-electro-pop of Bad Moon.
Of course there’s also the small matter of the band’s mighty back catalogue to contend with too, and as you’d expect, HOLLYWOOD UNDEAD leave virtually no stone unturned. From the bouncy electronics of War Child to the early airing of a staggeringly-heavy sounding Been To Hell, it seems as though the band have brought something for everyone on this occasion and are determined not to leave a single punter unamused. Things only get more outrageous as, mid-set, a fan is plucked from the crowd to play guitar on an impromptu note-perfect cover of GUNS N’ ROSES classic Sweet Child O’ Mine, and the band’s own Comin’ In Hot, before HOLLYWOOD UNDEAD themselves throw out a bizarre-yet-brilliant choice of Folsom Prison Blues by JOHNNY CASH just a few tracks later. This leads into what can only be described as a completely ludicrous final run of songs, as the band throw out a string of some of their best tracks mixed in with a couple of new ones, incorporating the likes of Bullet, Riot, Party By Myself and more into the mix, before reaching their apex with an obscenely brilliant performance of Day Of The Dead to cap things off. Of course, that’s still not quite it though, and the band are barely gone for more than a few seconds before returning to encore with a triumphant Everywhere I Go that sees basically everyone present singing every lyric back with delight. Make no mistake, HOLLYWOOD UNDEAD are a force to be reckoned with, and their eventual return to mainland Europe for summer festivals later in the year is sure to be one hell of a spectacle to behold.
Check out our photo gallery from the night’s action in Manchester from Sabrina Ramdoyal Photography here: