Sound — 9
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.
Lyrics — 8
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.
Overall Impression — 9
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.