Thirty Seconds to Mars
This Is War


1.5
very poor

Review

by Nicholas USER (1 Reviews)
March 9th, 2010 | 31 replies


Release Date: 2009 | Tracklist

Review Summary: This is War seems to be a trumpeting call to arms to a war that comes so often we get sick of hearing it. Too much buildup for too much explosion. The album exhausts, without having a single weak spot, rather, the arrangement and choice of songs themselve

30 Seconds to Mars (30stm) is a band that was... well, critiqued quite heavily after their first "space"-themed self-titled debut. Their second album, in a seemingly responsible move, strafed towards a more radio friendly, all around, equal rock sound. So what could they have been thinking when they not only reverted back into the "space" sound, but kept running past the post established in the first album?

Was it the fanboys they seemed to alienate from their second, more straight-foreword album? That seems a silly thing to do, because fans are gained or lost based on merit... if you keep trying to appease the same fanbase you will achieve little (see, Linkin Park). Was it their lawsuit with their record label (which they totally deserved; they failed to provide according to their stipulation)? Was it Jared Leto's head finally exploding with egocentric overpretention?

In my opinion it is a conglomerate of all three. In order to come back with an untarnished image, 30stm put out an album hyped out to the max, trying to aim for huge expansionism and sweeping themes, something you can play over a medieval war movie. They seemed to think that anything else would make people call them lazy for, well, being lazy in the last 4 years. They wanted to convince people they really had been working on a huge call-to-arms and magnum opus. The fanboys crying over the mass appeal of the second album were listened too (most likely in accordance with the previous), and Jared simply had far too much control over this album... his pretentious nature is apparent on the other records, but it never (really) distracts from the overall sound.

So with that out of the way, let's actually review the album.

First, let me clarify that the 1.5/5 is a score IN REFERENCE to what I believe the band to be capable of; ie, it is a judgment against themselves, rather than one against the common strata of music. This album isn't terrible... For an average listener it probably is fairly moving, with sufficient beats and changes to keep them motivated. HOWEVER, compared to what glimpses of 30stm have shown themselves capable of, this is a terrible, terrible disappointment.

Let's start with the length of the songs. Most songs drag to over 5 minutes... That's longer than the average on the first 30stm album. Now I'm not one to slate against long songs- many bands can pull off quite a long song HERE OR THERE, or some bands consistently pump out long ones. The thing is however, long songs equate to a shorter, much more varied album. There should be fewer, better chosen, and representative songs, rather than the standard album fair of 12 songs, 10 of which drag on and on. It's almost exhausting listening to the album.
-5 points for exhausting song lengths

Lyrics- Are actually quite poor. In 30stm's realization that their previous album had quite 'angsty' lyrics, they tried to run as far away from that as fast as they could, trying to hide behind the genre that was established by classic rock artists; the glory and honor of war. Getting ready to fight. However, instead of paving a new road on ground that has been salted and purged a thousand times, they simple dumped a bag of asphalt in a spot and expected it to grow. The lyrics are thematically repetitive, actually lyrically repetitive, lack imagination, creativity, and any spark or vigor. The singing itself is also quite sub-par as to what I had come to expect. Leto has quite a distinct vocal range... so why does he try to expand on an already good thing. Many parts screech with off-tone sounds that were really unnecessary. Lastly, the huge amount of gang vocals present throughout the album, on almost every single song, was a very VERY bad idea. Gang vocals work, but have to be very precisely inserted and SPARSE. Otherwise they exhaust the ears. Nobody minds a few gang vocals sprinkled throughout an album, it's a fresh taste. But if they're used ad nauseum, it simply... exhausts.
3/20 points for vocals

Instruments- Besides the irritating fact that there are more instruments present than could possibly be played live (a personal irk of mine), the instruments themselves don't suffer too heavy penalties. They're simple, sometimes seem unnecessary, but generally keep the rhythm as well as can be expected. The two problems I have as per sound goes would have to be the spacey aura that hangs around the songs, and the drums. Drums are instruments that can either keep the beat well, or form their own. But what the drums insist on doing in this album is constantly building up our excitement with quite good (technical skill is sufficient) fills, and doing this repeatedly. This seems to be the worst nerve of this album. Too many buildups too often, leaving the listener enervated.
15/20 points for instruments

Presentation of album- Right off the bat, most of these songs are not strictly BAD songs. They just don't mesh well together. Throw in any of the songs (after stripping it it's ridiculous gang vocal and extraneous spacey sound embellishments) on the other 30stm albums and they'd fit. Hell, they'd probably even stand out as above average. But all of these similar-themed similar-sounding songs promising epic and sweeping hugeness simply fall flat placed together, leaving an empty and hollow sound in its wake. On the album itself, the presentation is standard. Hits followed by average songs, with a strong finish.
2/10 points for presentation


OVERALL SCORE: 15/50

Pros:
individual songs are fairly above average taken out of context of the album
Some songs tend to honestly fulfill the mission of being huge, exciting affairs (such as Kings and Queens)

Cons:
Too much extraneous sound
Too much build-up
Very poor lyrics
Voice is too strained
Pretentious and overblown (both in marketing and the songs themselves)
Too many gang vocals

Good Songs:
100 suns has to be my favorite on the album. Take away the stupid gang -vocal section and this song is a wonderful little acoustic ditty
Kings and Queens has poor lyrics, but they're better than the brother song This Is War. This is a simpler song, you could edit out some of it (cut it down to 330-4) and this would be a very good song

Bad Songs:
Hurricane (Kanye just doesn't work)
Stranger in a Strange Land is an epitome of why this album doesn't work. It has build ups, slow sections, wears on 7 minutes, and just... no.

Most of the songs on this album strafe in the average area though... The album is a flop not because of individual mistakes but because of a collective sinking by each song


user ratings (878)
Chart.
3.1
good
other reviews of this album
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Comments:Add a Comment 
soap91
March 9th 2010


125 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

while just about every aspect of your review is spot on, I think the 1.5 rating was a little extreme. At least a 2-2.5 would have been appropriate. Besides that, great review! props.

Romulus
March 9th 2010


8443 Comments


*high five*

pizzamachine
March 9th 2010


12571 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Major props for slamming a popular band with your first review.

HugCrewLoveRoll
March 9th 2010


612 Comments


Cover art is awful.

sspedding
March 9th 2010


4773 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

interesting style of review.

Don't agree but its good nevertheless.

Emim
March 9th 2010


26646 Comments


stripping it it's ridiculous


I think you meant "stripping it *of* its ridiculous"

Good review though, man.

crazyblinddude
March 9th 2010


3389 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

hmmm nice review
*pos

intothepit83
March 10th 2010


2316 Comments


great review, but i believe it to be a bit harsh. but i applaud the honesty

tiesthatbind
March 10th 2010


7375 Comments


Now this is how you do a negative review. Well done.

I liked how you broke it down into the different categories, made it unique.

Digging: Poets of the Fall - Signs of Life

TheStory
March 10th 2010


3 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

Thank you for the compliments and helpful hints guys

I feel the score was so harsh because I really believe the band could do alot with the talent they have at their disposal. They have done some really good things... Alas.

I forgot to mention that the monotony of long songs is broken up with solos. Not a single one is present in This Is War.

ninjuice
March 10th 2010


6760 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

No one has the talent for solos, sadly.
I looooooooooove the first half of this album but do get a bit bored after that.

ReturnToRock
March 10th 2010


3448 Comments


i didn't read all of it (about 60/70%), but I found the format to be extremely awkward. That format has been out of style for years on this site. There also seems to be something wrong with the summary, and there are a couple spelling mistakes. Sorry, negged.

No comment on the album or 30STM themselves, as I find even their first album to be a tad boring, and the second to be pure tween fodder.

Wizard
March 10th 2010


19522 Comments


Even though the review is terribly structured, this is still the best one I've read for this album because it's so bang on. Their debut is medicore nu-metal but that's about it. Whomever in Hollywood told Jared Leto that he could write music should be shot dead.

Digging: Godflesh - A World Lit Only By Fire

ninjuice
March 10th 2010


6760 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This band has never been nu-metal.

FreePizzaDay
March 10th 2010


1526 Comments


Yeah, agree with the opinions throughout and all of your content, but your writing needs some work. A lot of these sentences just sound odd, and as someone else mentioned, there's still quite a few typos.

Anyways, good for a first review. I hope to see another soon.

tiesthatbind
March 10th 2010


7375 Comments


Nu-metal?

TheStory
March 10th 2010


3 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

Thanks for the construct guys... I do go to one of those weird private schools where structure and sentence structure are both regimented and weird... I'll try to shake that with subsequent reviews.

Wizard
March 10th 2010


19522 Comments


This band has never been nu-metal.

I almost feel sometimes that 90% of the users on this site have no idea what nu-metal is and refer to the genre as a bunch of Linkin Parks which is pretty terrible. They actually have all the elements down pat (minus the lyrics which were ok on the first album). Drop-D simplistic powerchords, generic use of keys etc., simplistic rhythms. They at least felt nu-metal to me but you could argue hard rock/ alt metal as well.

ninjuice
March 11th 2010


6760 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I guess I could see nu-metal except they're not heavy enough to be so. The debut was hard rock with electronic influences and ABL was "normal"/alt rock with those same influences, imo.

JWT155
March 11th 2010


9300 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Nah, I don't see a nu-metal connection at all.



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