Thirty Seconds to Mars
This Is War


3.0
good

Review

by J. Ponton EMERITUS
December 1st, 2009 | 252 replies


Release Date: 2009 | Tracklist

Review Summary: While the album is overblown and pretentious, the final product does turn out to be pretty good.

It has been four years since 30 Seconds to Mars last release, and what exactly have the band been up to in that amount of time? Well apparently a thirty million dollar law suit with their label took place – the band apparently failed to fulfill contract agreements. While that was certainly an obstacle, they’ve also been quite busy at creating the “best album they can make” as well. This Is War shifts back to the more lengthy tracks of the band’s self-titled release, grabs the commercialized alternative rock that was found on much of A Beautiful Lie, and creates a melding of the two efforts – oh, and I mustn’t forget: the band has also enlisted the help of 1,000 fans.

The result of this combination is rather pretentious and overblown in execution; however, some spots do turn out to be effective at capturing an epic feel. “Escape” acts as the general introduction of what listeners will find here: drums enter after brief ambiance effects, Jared Leto proceeds with his soothing caress of revenge, and The Summit – those 1,000 or so fans as they are called – comes surging forth in unison for the proclamation of, “This is War!” As you can see, right from the onset listeners are made aware that the band has taken on a large project with this offering. The inclusion of The Summit throughout the record turns out to be a hit and miss affair though: some tracks will have you all but joining in with the mass of singers; others will have you rushing for the skip button just to breathe as Leto’s ambition can unfortunately choke listeners.

Fortunately, the first three proper tracks fall into the category of the prior. “Night Of The Hunter” carries a driving drum beat and gives a nod to the 80s with its keyboard riff; all the while, Leto’s melody pulls the right strings to lure listeners into the song. The Summit comes in for the end of the track – properly it should be noted – and the A Beautiful Lie-styled “Kings And Queens” follows next, chasing after the much sought after epic feel with a stadium-size chorus. The title track is the jewel of the album. The song creeps forward after a surge of The Summit with a simple guitar riff, luring the listener into Leto’s tale of war and inevitable battle. The chorus is nothing short of gigantic, and the momentous build up in the bridge of the song makes way for one more plunge into the fray.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the three tracks detailed above turn out to be the album’s singles – one already is, as a matter of fact – and this brings me to the problems that arise with the second half of the album. Whereas the inclusion of The Summit on the first half is wisely implemented and never quite overcrowds the rest of the band, things change drastically for the rest of the record that follows the Kanye West-assisted “Hurricane”. Leto takes on the pretense of a preacher that’s leading a choir; the best example of this being displayed on “Vox Populi” and “Seach & Destroy”. The former overuses The Summit with the repeated proclamation of: “This is a call to arms, gather soldiers, time to go to war. This is a battle song, brothers and sisters, time to go to war.” Jared doesn’t do much to make things better as he all but takes on the overambitious persona of Tom Delonge as if he himself were leading Angels & Airwaves, spinning off tales of hope and healing that can’t quite be taken seriously.

“Alibi” is the ballad of the album. The track borrows from the superior “Hurricane” that came before it with its slower progression and piano dominance. The song escalates to an expected climax; however, by now Leto has already exhausted any of the listener’s emotions that might profit from this release. The album closes on the brooding recall to the band’s self-titled with “Stranger in a Strange Land” and finally lays the hour-long record to rest with the acoustic outro, “L490”.

The problems found on the second half of This Is War fortunately don’t cripple the record; if anything, the band’s momentous amount of ambition is exemplified, and while that may cause some to scoff or turn away, the effort the band put into this album is well noted. That being said, I have to wonder what exactly the band might have in mind for their next outing in a few years – if they’ve even thought ahead that far – and where does all of this ambition stop? Will the fact that This Is War does happen to succeed in many ways prompt Leto and the band to push forward, begging the question: what exactly would that entail? Strings, masses of fans, and stadium-size choruses make up the patchwork for the majority of this album; the end result is pretentious and overblown, but that doesn’t stop This Is War from succeeding – well, for the most part anyway.



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user ratings (875)
Chart.
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other reviews of this album
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Comments:Add a Comment 
Ponton
Emeritus
December 1st 2009


5793 Comments


The band offered this album stream two hours ago through their myspace:

http://www.iheartradio.com/cc-common/ondemand/music.html?apid=6279

http://blogs.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view&friendId=5211815&blogId=520574545

SatoIsNotPlace
December 1st 2009


99 Comments


.. the new Despair Faction?

loseit13
December 1st 2009


226 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

nothing stands out yet but nothing bad about it. Will have to see if it grows on me more

Ponton
Emeritus
December 1st 2009


5793 Comments


This album turned out better than I thought it would. The title track is particularily good.

loseit13
December 1st 2009


226 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

agree^ didn't have much hope for this album when they mentioned Kayne West doing guest vocals

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
December 1st 2009


31223 Comments


Another solid review as always Observer



Digging: LV and Joshua Idehen - Islands

Ponton
Emeritus
December 1st 2009


5793 Comments


Thank you Deviant. I'm trying to improve with each one.

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
December 1st 2009


31223 Comments


It shows, not saying your earlier ones were rubbish but, you know lol

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
December 1st 2009


31223 Comments


I notice in the recommended section you don't mention their earlier albums?

Ponton
Emeritus
December 1st 2009


5793 Comments


No. Though this does combine both of thier albums before this, I found that the ones I recommended were more similar.

It's more commercial like A Beautiful Lie; yet at the same time, the songs are more progressive and expansive like their self-titled.

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
December 1st 2009


31223 Comments


I haven't checked the stream yet, I was just curious as to why they may have been absent.

Not too sure on the cover for this album

Nagrarok
December 1st 2009


8256 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

Very nice review. Will probably not check this out, 30STM have lost my interest. But hmm, who knows.

Metalstyles
Staff Reviewer
December 1st 2009


8370 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

good review, I'm not sure if i want to bother with this. The Summit sounds extra cheesy, and it all sounds way too overblown. Will possibly skip for now.

Also, one tiny neg on my part:

I wouldn’t be surprised if the three tracks detailed above turn out to be the album’s singles–one already is actually–and unfortunately,
in sentences like this (there are a few scattered throughout the review), it would read a whole lot better if you'd put spaces between both sides of the hyphen.

theacademy
Staff Reviewer
December 1st 2009


28586 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0 | Sound Off

spaces are irrelevant. It would read better:

"I would not be surprised if the three tracks detailed above turn out to be the album's singles-in
fact, one already is." or "I would not be surprised if the three tracks detailed above become the
album's singles-one already has, actually."

already + actually + unfortunately in the span of five words sounds awful

pos'd btw

Digging: Chris Brown - X

Jips
December 1st 2009


1129 Comments


Swiftly done review, if the stream has only just been posted... but regardless good review... i dono if im ready to listen to 30stm again tho...

Metalstyles
Staff Reviewer
December 1st 2009


8370 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

also pos'd, but I'm not only thinking that exact sentence, I just brought that out as an example. I mean all the sentences where he uses 2 hyphens.

Knott-
Emeritus
December 1st 2009


10197 Comments


Spaces are not irrelevant. Ignore theacademy; Metalstyles is right.

Oblivioncry
December 1st 2009


601 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

just listened to it once and yeah, 'this is war' is a mix of both of their previous albums. i guess right now i'd go with a strong 3.5

Oblivioncry
December 1st 2009


601 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

the title track is really the best song here ... but kanye's vocal dont really fit in hurricane, the track would have been better without him.... pos'd btw xD

theacademy
Staff Reviewer
December 1st 2009


28586 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0 | Sound Off

Spaces are not irrelevant. Ignore theacademy; Metalstyles is right.


spaces are a formatting issue... why should he be chastised for the inadequacies of the site? In MS
word, hyphenated (or extended hyphens) do not have spaces...



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