Thirty Seconds To Mars – This Is War : Album Reviews
Most people know Jared Leto from his acting fame, now; he seems to be predominantly known for his musical ventures. His band Thirty Seconds To Mars return with their third studio album, This Is War, their first release since their 2005 multimillion selling success, A Beautiful Lie. Their most successful single The Kill (Bury Me), skyrocketing their name worldwide, along with a precarious legal battle and a phenomenal amount of pressure to deliver once more on this new release.
After striving through the conventionally predictable lyrics, a choir chimes in singing ‘THIS IS WAR’, in the opening track, Escape, hinting to the listener that the oncoming tracks might present as a concept album of sorts. The choirs used throughout the album, consist of members who are actually fans, which is an initiative from the band.
The following track, Night Of The Hunter, presents as a much stronger track, opening with Leto’s breathy vocals, and progressing to the chorus in a more stronger tone. Backed by an electronic synthesiser, this track sounds more like something that Nickelback could have constructed while on acid. Thankfully, with Kings & Queens, one of the stronger tracks on the album, the album starts to lift slowly, but progressively. However, not by enough to save the album from complete mediocrity.
A slight saving grace for the album is single This Is War, flowing effortlessly into the next track 100 Suns, in an unnoticeable fashion that works so well. Receiving a small amount of radio play throughout the country, this song did not match the previous singles’ success, however, still holds the strongest track on the album. Especially when paired with the contrasting acoustic ballad form of the following track.
Instilling the help of renowned producer Mark Ellis, (who has worked with such acts as U2, AFI and Nine Inch Nails), they seek to somewhat mimic these mentioned bands. The sound is much more atmospheric than the past work of 30STM, and while no one can fault the band looking to head in an alternate direction, it comes across as a failure to find the exact genre and sound they are going for as an individual entity.
The similarity between all the tracks becomes noticable. Hurricane is another highlight, however, the collaboration with Kanye West on this song does not appear on the album, being replaced by this band version instead. While Closer To The Edge and Vox Populi, continue with the driving 5-6 minute rock epics, while Search And Destroy doesn’t offer much of a contrast, as the choirs, the riffs and the lyrics become increasingly familiar to previous tracks.
The U2 influence is noticeable throughout the entire album, particularly in atmospheric terms, as the album closes with slower tracks Alibi and Stranger In A Strange Land. There is no doubting that Leto’s vocals are impressive, adding remarkably to the overall sound of the band and of this new release. However, by the time the final track, L490 is reached, and the album closed off by what can only be described as a chanting cult, one cannot helped but be somewhat overwhelmed and underwhelmed at the same time, by this release.
One can feel overwhelmed by the complexities of this album, what they have tried to achieve through lyrics, music, concepts, with very little success, and of course, underwhelmed by the outcome of a release which promises so much. With very few likeable tracks which leave a mark, it is hard to see this album as one which has been five years in the making, and rather seen as one which has been rushed out to fulfil contractual obligations.