This Is War
sweetpeasuzie, on december 08, 2009 7 of 8 people found this review helpful
Sound: Modern rockers 30 Seconds To Mars never stop stirring up emotions, and their latest recording This Is War from Virgin Records pushes all the right buttons in the listener's motor cortex. The rock trio's arsenal of prog rock stimulants and symphonic metal boosters spurs their album into a heated run with the arpeggiated vibrations of Night Of The Hunter followed by the eruptions of charging choruses in Vox Populi (Voice of the Population) and the voluminous orchestral sails of Stranger In A Strange Land. Granted the tracks are overly produced, but that has become the band's trademark and what the public expects from them so why knock 30 Seconds To Mars for making songs that they like performing, and are a genuine expression of themselves? You know this Is true because the only music that is comparable 30 Seconds To Mars is their own.
Lead singer/guitarist Jared Leto drives his vocals into the songs with the force of meat-hooks as he and guitarist Tomo Milicevic produce choppy riffs that cleat mountainous blazes through the chord dynamics held together by the hyper-pounding of Leto's brother Shannon on the drums. Their album stokes a recurring theme in the lyrics unveiling human flaws as the band builds up the tracks to a big, overwhelming sound with the exception of the finale L490 which wilts into liquidity electro-pop waterfalls. The title track lets Jared and Milicevic rip into the chorus parts with a chain-mail of guitar shreds as Shannon's drum strikes cleave into the melodic hooks. The intensity of the music is persuasive in drawing audiences to join the band's cause like in Closer To The Edge as Jared's vocals tear through the whipping slashes engraved by the guitar chords when he recites, This never-ending story / Paid for with pride and faith / We all fall short of glory / Lost in the sun. Keeping the album's temper pounding hard, the dramatic tones pulsating in the piano motifs opening Hurricane are moving as the orchestral swirls of that angelic strings halo the piece with Jared's vocals nailing the lyrics into the melody. The music re-enforces those emotions that surface when feeling battle-enraged and threatened by opposing forces. The album does not lead to a peaceful resolution but rather provides an outlet for feelings that go oppressed and refuse to remain hidden. // 9
Lyrics: The lyrics are driven by an honesty to bare feelings that are not so pleasant to admit like in 100 Suns as Jared Leto reflects, I believe in nothing / Not the end and not the start / I believe in nothing / Not the earth and not the stars / I believe in nothing / Not the day or not the dark / I believe in nothing / But the beating of our hearts / I believe in nothing / 100 suns until we part / I believe in nothing / Not in sin and not in God / I believe in nothing / Not in peace and not in war / I believe in nothing / But the truth in who we are.
Some songs seem influenced by the present situation of inner turmoil which is keeping nations warring with each other like in the title track as Jared expresses, A warning, to the people / The good and the evil / This is war / To the soldier, the civilian the martyr, the victim / This is war / It's the moment of truth / And the moment to lie / And the moment to live / And the moment to die / The moment to fight / The moment to fight / To fight, to fight / TO FIGHT To the right, to the left / We will fight, to the death / To the edge of the earth / It's a brave new world / From the last to the first To the leader, the pariah / The victim, the messiah / This is war. Through the dark, Gothic sandstorms comes a ray of hope in Kings And Queens as Leto projects, Into the night / Desperate and broken / The sound of a fight / Father has spoken / We were the kings and queens of promise / We were the victims of ourselves / Maybe the children of a lesser God / Between Heaven and Hell The age of man is over / The darkness comes over all / These lessons that we've learned here / Have only just begun. // 8
Overall Impression: This Is War is 30 Seconds To Mars' third full-length album following their self-titled disc in 2002 and their sophomore release A Beautiful Lie in 2005. Using a combination of art-rock, power punk, symphonic metal, and orchestral tones, 30 Seconds To Mars is a viable proponent of modern rock and a major driving force in keeping the genre evolving. Though the tracks are overly produced in their amplified version, the band's material has merit, and every song can be imagined in an acoustic form. The band's progressive tendencies affect the songs in a positive way, and influence the mechanics of the tracks to follow contemporary models. 30 Seconds To Mars will excite fans once again, and This Is War is the right vehicle for them to re-assert themselves in modern rock circles. // 9
This Is War
UG Team, on december 08, 2009 5 of 10 people found this review helpful
Sound: In the time since the release of 2005's The Beautiful Lie, 30 Seconds To Mars has experienced some less-than-ideal issues with the record label Virgin/EMI. The company actually sued the band for $30 million over contractual issues, but apparently no bridges were burnt because the trio just released This Is War on the same label. Did that shakeup have a negative effect on the band's music? Not necessarily, but vocalist Jared Leto, drummer Shannon Leto, and guitarist Tomo Milievi seem to have more of a fondness for a synth-driven sound than ever before. There are still big choruses fueled by power chords, but 30 Seconds To Mars are also not afraid to utilize the auto-tuning maestro, Kanye West.
Leto obviously still enjoys drama, and in a way that does set a distinct mood for This Is War. Rather than starting things off with a big, catchy song worth of Top 40, the band opts for a dramatic, haunting, and quiet interlude Escape. That particular track is rather brief, and not soon after Night of the Hunter pops up and features 30 Seconds To Mars' trademark monster choruses that allow Leto to belt his heart out. Quite a few songs follow a similar format of building up to a big finish, and it certainly works in this scenario.
Things get a little odd in Hurricane, however. A collaboration with The Killers'Brandon Flowers and Kanye West, the song begins like your usual 30 Seconds To Mars material, only to be interrupted by West's auto-tuned vocals. If you're a fan of the T-Pain craze, it probably won't offend your sensibilities too much. But when you look at the song as a whole, the auto-tuning aspect makes little sense except to hop on the trendy bandwagon. It's not to say that 30 Seconds To Mars shouldn't broach the pop genre because the final track, essentially a club version of Night of the Hunter, is one of the best moments on the entire CD.
This Is War has some interesting elements, particularly the fact that more often than not, the backing vocals are supplied by fans. You can actually hear parts that sound exactly what you'd expect at a concert sing-along complete with giggling girls at the end. While it's cool on 30 Seconds To Mars' part to include their fans in more of the recording/songwriting process, the huge group backing vocals also tend to grate on your nerves after the fifth time or so. // 8
Lyrics: Leto walks a fine line between being incredibly deep and overly philosophical. There are some heavy lyrics within This Is War, and you have to give the band credit for at least raising a few eyebrows. At times there seems to be a war with spirituality with lyrics like, No matter how many lies I live, I will never regret; There's a fire inside of this heart, about to explode into flames; Where is you God? (Hurricane). In Night of the Hunter the themes are a bit more cryptic, but still mystical in nature (I was born of the womb of a poisonous spell; Beaten and broken and chased from the lair). Leto may be laying it on a bit thick, but he is also reaching beyond the typical lyrical content you might be used to hearing. // 8
Overall Impression: The rock aspect of 30 Seconds To Mars has taken more of a backseat to the pop/emo side, but in many ways that transition feels more fitting of the trio. A good deal of delivery is over the top, and maybe that's to be expected from Leto, who still acts fairly regularly. In the end, there is plenty of thinking outside of the box with song arrangement, but everything is so dramatic that ironically it's hard to take This Is War completely seriously. // 7
This Is War
zephyrusrain, on december 09, 2009 2 of 2 people found this review helpful
Sound: This album was rather intriguing in terms of sound. A lot of experimentation, especially with electronic sounds. At times, songs had a Depeche Mode, Nine Inch Nails, U2-esque sound to it. Delays, reverbs, synth, "notes being expensive" as The Edge would say, and etc. The Summit (the choir of fans in some of the songs) was an interesting addition, both in a good and bad way. Sometimes it made a song sounded cliche, sometimes it was good addition to a song which added emphasis to a certain part of the song. Overall, I suppose Jared Leto (lead singer of 30STM) loved the idea of having fans being part of the album, literally. "Hurricane" had potential to "blend" well but Kanye's "contribution" to the song was rather disastrous. The song was a ballad and Kanye West tried to make it upbeat. Result, a song which could have been beautiful. To conclude, it may not be as heavy or as guitar-driven as the previous albums. But who says it's wrong with trying and fooling around with new sounds? It's music. It's art. // 8
Lyrics: Most of the songs had an overall theme intertwining them together in the album, mostly emphasis on monotheism, war, self-discovery and the occasional life-related issues. But that of course, is if the lyrics are literally understood and interpreted. Knowing 30STM as a band which takes into account fantasies and out-of-this-world ideas, the lyrics could be interpreted in another way. "Kings & Queens" to some "professional" reviewers as an apocalyptic song which is rather hilarious to me, as I do not see how it could be related to any form of disaster whatsoever, aside from "the age of man is over". The overall sound of the song itself was "hopeful", with a sense of self-discovery, "Provehito in Altum" as their motto goes. But that's just my opinion. At times, I felt that there was overemphasis by the repetition of lyrics. Jared Leto's vocal capabilities have always impressed me and it still does not fail to impress me in this album. Powerful would be the only word I can think of to describe his vocals. // 8
Overall Impression: The album is different from the other two albums, not as heavy as the first, not as dramatic as the second, but also not in between the two as well. It's unique, it's progressive, it's a step forward. I enjoyed this album as a whole, one piece, rather than dissecting it to get favourite and hated songs. 30 Seconds To Mars is the new face of real, modern rock, in my opinion, in comparison to how pop is starting to be more "rock" and dragging down a lot of bands into the pop rock genre. Hopefully, 30 Seconds To Mars will continue to progress forward like they have in this album. // 8
This Is War
Radman_Paiza, on december 18, 2009 1 of 2 people found this review helpful
Sound: First time I ever heard the name 30 Seconds to Mars was through the radio. I remember it very clearly, as it was the first time I came in contact with the rock. It was three days before my 12th birthday, and The Kill was pumping through the speakers in the car. A Beautiful Lie also came to be my first rock-album.
Four years later I buy This Is War, 30 Seconds to Mars's third album since their debut 2002. Their style has changed alot since then, when they from heavy industrial-rock went over to a more emo-rockish sound in A Beautiful Lie (2005). Now it's hard to classify them. Not only does it feel like they have completely abandoned the industrial sound (there were still elements of industrial rock in A Beautiful Lie), but also have they added a "holy" feel to the music. Frontman Jared Leto have said in an interview that the trio's new album is about faith, war and hot discussion topics in our everyday life. Cannot do anything but agree with him.
This Is War, the title track and also the track which differs the most from the others, is without a doubt, the track that mostly resembles their previous dark, picturing songs which describes a battlefield and the thoughts surrounding it. Much like previous title-track, A Beautiful Lie, it goes from a calm, poetic verse to an explosive chorus.
The most unique song is Hurricane, in which we can hear Kanye West bust rhymes and beat hearts in the pre-chorus and bridge. I personally find it hilarious and quite catchy, but I cannot help finding it horribly embarrassing aswell. 30 Seconds To Mars has drifted into what many would call pop since their debut, and if they continue to experiment, we may expect Jared singing to a houseremix of Circus in two or three years. // 5
Lyrics: Now I'm not a person who just disregard the lyrics in music, but if the music is well-performed and the melody and singing is perfectly matched, I usually lose myself and start headbanging. This Is War did neither. The lyrics were boring and unappealing, though interesting in a rhythmic perspective, and sometimes it felt like they had been sampling text from previous songs from the same album. No matter how deep the lyrics were meant to be, they did not appeal, and if they do not appeal, the message won't go through, and the message is probably some sort of "peace and love" thing. However, make the lyrical part work, the change of style was needed, as the "holiness" of This Is War's melodies was a perfect match with Jared Leto's writings.
Jared has improved his singing since A Beautiful Lie, and also proven even he can sing smoothly if he tries. An example of this is Closer To The Edge where he has completely removed the whispering sound he got when he went down into the lower part of his voice like in The Kill. Jared has also polished his screaming since A Beautiful Lie, as they sound alot smoother in the songs where he actually screams than in i.e. Attack or The Fantasy. // 6
Overall Impression: 30 Seconds To Mars has gone downhill ever since their self-titled debut 2002, and This Is War is probably something many fans would call "the St. Anger of 30STM". It was not much I expected after hearing the interviews of Jared explaining the concept of This Is War, but yet I was still disappointed.
This Is War outshines Kings & Queens badly, even though Kings & Queens became the first single from the album and more radio-friendly. Hurricane is also one of the more notable tracks, but not necessarily because it's good. But rather because of the sudden rapping.
Another notable track would be Closer To The Edge, where the fan-based choir sings almost all the time. I'm sure the fans who participated enjoyed it (and I bet Jared did too) but as for me, I did not enjoy it very much, but it was definitely one of the better songs on this album, which says alot about the album.
UG asks what I would do if the album was stolen/lost. Well, no burglar would consider This Is War valueable (or good enough) to steal. Nor would I lose something that's currently gathering dust on my shelf. // 4