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30 Seconds To Mars

This is War


Jared Leto — lead vocals, rhythm guitar, bass guitar

Shannon Leto — drums, percussion

Tomo Miličević — lead guitar, bass guitar, keyboards


            L.A. is back in the spotlight, well on second thought it never really left, but does take a step back from time to time in the music world. With bands sprouting from big and small cities around the US as well as counties around the world it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle. With the new 30 Seconds to Mars though, L.A. is on top again. The band was founded in 1998 with the Leto brothers. Several artists came and went trying to round out the line up when Tomo auditioned to complete it. In 2002 the band released its self-titled debut album which peaked at #31 on the Mainstream Rock charts despite mixed reviews. They followed that up in august 2005 with the release of A Beautiful Lie. It unfortunately leaked a whopping 5 months before the release date so huge promotions including adding two tracks and “golden tickets” to 12 copies. The tickets gave access to a free concert with backstage access to that show. After huge tours with other huge acts, awards and a minor setback with its label, the band is back with their third release. The band wanted the album it hit stores in the summer of 2009, but it didn’t appear on the shelves until right before the holiday’s. This Is War streams 12 tracks long clocking in at over an hour long, which is pretty long in today’s standard. The album opens up with the track “Escape” which builds and builds like an opening to a show. Beginning with a guitar that has been left on then adding in drums that get louder and louder until the vocals enter with a low eerie tone that turns into a blast of a chorus in the background and ending with that same guitar that is started with. Usually tracks like stream right into the next but in this case “Escape” doesn’t flow into “Night of the Hunter.” Instead a woman comes over the speakers in what sounds like a foreign language. It then transitions into an electronic beat with heavy drums and keys. The vocals come strolling in with some sexy attitude with an echo version of backing vocals. It is a very catchy track, but it’s not what I expected at all. The lady from the opening segment appears in several places throughout the song starting what seems to be the next section of the tune. There is also a part that they keep repeating the same phrase over and over followed by some high pitched screaming. There is just way too much in this track flying around that you can’t pick up on anything and embrace it. “Kings and Queens” the lead single from This Is War spins off second. This track also starts off building with some dead air that creeps into some low oooo’s until the real set of vocals appear. This track relies less on the keys which makes it so much better then the last track. The backing vocals enhance the lead vocals greatly and together create a passionate bond. The music sweeps along in the background as the drums get more of the spotlight than the guitars. The vocals really run away with the main attention with huge powerful notes. The title cut steps up next and “This Is War” again doesn’t start right off the bat. This is becoming a theme on the album. When the track does decide to get going it really takes off. The vocals take the lead hitting scorching high notes and the music gets the handcuffs taken off and excels with soaring guitars and pounding drums. This is what I was waiting on since the album started and it took 4 tracks to get to it. The lyrics on all of the tracks have been wonderfully written, but they really stand out on this track because they have something they can attach to. “100 Suns” is super short compared to the rest of the album clocking in at a tick under 2 minutes. It is also the first that starts from the drop of the hat. It is a soft track with a chorus in the background and an acoustic guitar and ends with some crowd applause. “Hurricane” opens up with a dramatic set of keys straight out of some horror movie. The six plus minute track offers up great vocals and a great mixture of sounds. It is eerie, mysterious, and jaw dropping. This track packs a punch and will leave you in awe. “Hurricane” is a tremendous track with the three p’s: power, passion, and poise. “Closer to the Edge” offers up a cool track that fans will enjoy. I don't think that it will do much anywhere else, but what it does offer up will entice fans to play it over and over. “Vox Populi” sweeps in amidst fog and keys advancing to thunderous claps and feet stomping. A chorus appears from behind the fog joined by lead vocals playing hand and hand with the chorus. It is a huge track with loads of passion and deep meaning lyrics. The music is dramatic as the vocals captivate you. It will leave you in awe and I would recommend this track to any and everyone. There is not a soul alive that could relate to this track in some way or another. “Search and Destroy” continues the album with another pretty sweet track. It also digs deep from within for strong lyrical content as the band leaves nothing left in the tank. The vocals really take over the track as they do so many times on the album and leaves the music to both lay the ground work and support the message(s). “Alibi” opens with a long key set that transition into easy, soft up close vocals. After the first set of lyrics a soft supporting drum series that takes the hand of the vocals and journey down the road together. The soft track goes straight to the heart and sticks. “Stranger in a Strange Land” gets really technical with a series of drums, guitars, and keys. It’s one of the hardest and strangest openings on the album. It ends with what sounds like rapid gun fire then switch gears to a soft track with vocals and effects. As you listen to it a line comes streaming out that will catch you off guard and make you say “did I just hear what I think I heard.” The near 7 minute track streams along going from one beat back to the opening intro sound. “L490” ends the long album on a weird note. It takes so long to get started that you really have a hard time making it through it. Really it’s an instrumental through about 3 minutes then it changes to this weird chanting and/or group meditating and then its over. Overall the album is okay. Don’t get me wrong I love a great long intro being a huge Metallica fan, but the intros on This Is War are long, weird, and most cases not needed. They extend the album probably 10 to 15 minutes longer than it should be. Besides from that and a couple of the tracks the album is solid. It was well written and it was written from the soul. You can tell that this is what they were thinking during the writing process of this album. The use of effects throughout the album enhances the music portion as well. They rely a lot on the drive drums and keys while the guitars are following close behind on the album. The lyrics are what help make this album stand out. They are the bread and butter. Okay album could have been great with a few minor adjustments.


Rating: 7.5 out of 10

Tracks to Watch:

This Is War, Hurricane, Vox Populi


Track List:

  1. Escape
  2. Night of the Hunter
  3. Kings and Queens
  4. This Is War
  5. 100 Suns
  6. Hurricane
  7. Closer to the Edge
  8. Vox Populi
  9. Search and Destroy
  10. Alibi
  11. Stranger in a Strange Land
  12. L490

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