Sound — 5
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.
Lyrics — 6
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.
Overall Impression — 4
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.