30 Seconds to Mars – This is War

2009-12-09 15:01
 
This is War
 

After reading all the hype about the Kanye West and Jared Leto collaboration on "Hurricane" I expected a bit more. Not that hearing Jared's whispery voice work its way into a frenzy of high notes and screams doesn't impress. But you just know the music is following the same recipe when, even after turning up the sound and intently listening to the lyrics, you feel cheated song after song. It all sounds the same. It's one continuous wave of sound that fades into the next.

This is no call to war that will shatter the airwaves and demand that we pick a fight. It's more like a hippie war rally. Make love not war is the subtext. There are more than enough slow melodies and whispery breaths, complete with backing choirs on "Escape" for that.

But still the music somehow manages to get you high. Even if "Night of the Hunter" and "Closer to the Edge" recycle the same electronic beats and emo-lyrics over and over at least they're still listenable tunes.

You see, 30 Seconds to Mars is now a progressive rock band. We need the crescendo to motivate an earth shattering rock revolution. We need to feel anger ("Search and Destroy"), angst, hatred, pain ("Stranger in a Strange Land"), camaraderie ("Vox Populi") and in the end defeat or even victory. It's all part and parcel of any war. But even though it's a likeable 30 Seconds to Mars sound, This is War has no particular message strong enough to inspire just that.

The title song, "This is War", sounds intimidating enough, but the lyrics are seriously lacking conviction. Even if the crowd chants the playground bully call to arms: "fight, fight, fight," and it starts off as "a warning to the people", 30STM still don't tell you what the hell they’re fighting for, or why you would want to join in. In "A 100 Suns" they even declare that they don't believe in anything more than a clichéd "truth" and themselves? If Jared wants anyone to believe in war after that maybe he should try a tree hugger's convention and not his next rock concert.

Still, as "Alibi" and "L490" show this is mellow, easy listening. After a few spins the sound grows on you. But the soundtrack to a full blown battle? Nah, this is more like the sound of someone pissing on a bonsai at that tree hugger's convention.


It took four years and a lawsuit for the 30 Seconds to Mars crew to pull a "war" out of their progressive rock hat (now wouldn't America be impressed with that?). But will their new progressive rock sound make the masses rise up in rebellion against the...um yes, what exactly is the fight all about?
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Cogito 2010/01/02 10:04 AM
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Having gotten this CD for christmas, I felt inclined to leave a comment here. Although I do agree with a lot of the things you are saying here, I have to admit that I also don't agree with certain aspects. Great review by the way! If you take the music itself, then yes, they have shown some sort of change in style. Some of it however still has a lot of 30 Seconds' original elements. But yes, the album is quite trance-like. I have been listening to the album for a while now (I am one of those people who likes to try then buy), and the thing is, that I like it. I don't see it as the traditional 30 Seconds to Mars, but rather as a new musical group. I have seen their older albums at the Pop section in so many music stores, it's not even funny. Also, it is important to remember that many artists can be pretty mysterious, especially the artists who write alternative and metal songs. I couldn't help but notice his constant referal to religion in many of the songs. So then, is he at war with himself? The world? Like you said, what are they fighting against and for. To me, the album sounds more like a personal war, against themselves. Enjoy your day and take care, thanks for the review :)
Debbie 2010/01/04 8:56 AM
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To me music is personal. I like rock / alternative / metal because most of the time the message is real and speaks to me. I have been an avid 30STM fan for the past few odd years and was looking forward to this album with great excitement and a hint of trepidation. I knew beforehand to expect something different, and that's what I got. When I first listened to it I did not know exactly what to think but the more I do, the more I love it. Currently it's my favorite because most of the songs speak to ME. And I think that is what the band was hoping to achieve with this. It's not only about physical war between humans. It's about man's destruction of the planet, of self, of others. It's about how people lose their identities because they have to adhere to society's rules. "Tell me would you kill to save a life... Tell me would you kill to prove you're right..." Lyrics from the song Hurricane. Those are valid questions and worth asking. I'm so sick of boy meets girl and lives happily ever after songs. Also some of the songs, in my opinion, pertain to a fight 30STM had with their record label. There were threats of lawsuits, etc. but in the end things were settled quietly. "This is War" might also have been used as a stage for the band to say they won't be trampled on. They have a message to get across and that's just what they'll do. I listen to Korn and Disturbed and their music is much more angry than "This is War". Still doesn't make me like it any less. Like I said, I enjoy music which leaves me thinking. And this album does just that.
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