After four years, 30 Seconds to Mars are back and ready for battle with This is War. In their latest release, 30STM returns from post-grunge to a more progressive style, resulting in a highly artistic album.
The majority of the instrumentals are optimistic, with fast drumbeats and energetic guitar riffs, but many tracks have mellow quiet bridges and feature piano and violin. “Hurricane,” a collaboration with Kanye West, has a rolling piano and strings undertone that works surprisingly well with Kanye’s lightly auto-tuned voice.
Innovative sound effects compliment the instrumentation and help bring out the band’s new style. “Kings and Queens” opens with the call of an eagle and the smooth French bridges contrast well with the driving drums in “Night of the Hunter.” The title track “This is War” features the military staccato of a snare drum and a compelling final chorus, with vocalist Jared Leto crying “a brave new world” to a choir of 1000 of 30STM’s fans that had all the power of an army charging victoriously through the battlefield.
Lyrics such as “we were the kings and queens of promise” (“Kings and Queens”) give the album a sentimentally romantic feel that Leto’s breathy voice delivers well. Most of the lyrics do not play on the war theme subtlety, going straight out with lines like “this is a call to arms.” (“Vox Populi”)
Unfortunately, some tracks really fall short. Of all the things to put in the 52 second intro to “L490,” they just had to choose 52 seconds of aggravating feedback loop. “Stranger in a Strange Land” fares no better as it features the jarring and unnecessary line “f*** you like the devil.” Also, adding a cheering crowd in a non-live album is lame and killed “100 Suns.”
This is War has the artistic quality to be one of the best albums of the year, but not all of the songs meet the high standard and the album as a whole falls just short.
Written by Jordan Zhang
Jan 12, 2010 at 10:02 PM