This is War is the latest offering from alternate rock band 30 Seconds to Mars. After launching into the mainstream with their 2nd album ‘A Beautiful Lie’, Jared Leto along with his brother Shannon Leto and Tomo Milicevic sought to build on this success. Although A Beautiful Lie was, what can only be described as, ‘space rock’ This is War has much more militaristic undertones as well as being unmistakeably darker in lyrics and melody. I feel the feeling of happiness is lost due to the noticeable absence of lead guitar parts, instead replaced by a synthesiser which, in my opinion fires it in the direction of crunk instead of their, supposedly, desired hard rock roots. Despite this, occasionally, the group choir really changes the mood of the song. The group choir vocals were recorded at various meetings of the 30 Seconds to Mars fan club, called ‘the echelon’ organised by the band. It can really add to the atmosphere of the song and adds great potential for live performances of the song although at some points it adds to the often unfavourable military style.
As the first wispy synth beats of the album opener, Escape, you begin to wonder whether 30 Seconds to Mars have failed. Then the drum beat rips out, past the synth, although ending as quickly as it started. This song, in my opinion, sets the scene for the album, as it displays much of the dominant features that occur throughout. It is yet to be seen whether or not the album will gain the same mainstream acclaim of their last album but with a world stadium tour ahead of them, things are looking big for 30 Seconds to Mars.
Kings and Queens, their first single, for me is one of the big highlights of the album. Opening with an eagles call, it immediately conjures ideas of Chinese combat, before another powerful drum section races into the song (before leaving almost immediately after.) proceeded by a haunting open chant from the lead singer. The song is much more poppy than the others, but the lead guitar really makes the song.
Having worked with Kanye West on the song ‘Hurricane’, for me, the song marks a change mid-way through the album. The songs get notably quieter, although the lyrics remain with the dark undercurrents. In addition, Hurricane has an artificial backbeat to the song that is reminiscent of an R&B song, which most certainly isn’t a bad thing.
Vox Populi breaks this trend, returning back to the style of Kings and Queens, with guitar parts and a good, strong drum beat. The drum beat is one repeated throughout the album though and whilst I enjoy it, the pattern is good and it often adds to the song, I am yet to decide whether the repetition is a positive thing or a sign of laziness.
This Is War is a positive step forward for 30 Seconds to Mars. Kings and Queens has already won various awards, both for the song and video. This latest album seems to be taking 30 Seconds to Mars places. Even though it may come as a let down to some of the more hardcore fans, it appears to be firing them further out there, getting more radio playtime, sparking a world tour. The album has visibly matured the band, molding them into something new, but not necessarily enjoyed by the entire fanbase.
You can find the album for sale on iTunes here : http://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/this-is-war/id339980046