Review Summary: “Jared Leto is not lost in space - he lives in it.”
Back in the day, Jared Leto (the singer, guitarist, and famed actor) teamed up with his drumming brother, Shannon Leto, and recorded 30 Seconds To Mars’ self-titled, debut album. They recorded the music, took the pictures, thought up logos, slogans and symbols, and released the album (selling over 100,000 copies). 30 Seconds To Mars didn’t get the attention they wanted at the start, and instead made mainstream success with their second album, A Beautiful Lie. 30 Seconds To Mars’ actual debut album never got off the ground, but those who knew about it soon watched the strange, actor-fronted band, transform into a disappointing mainstream success.
30 Seconds To Mars is one of the few successes in space rock history. Although the band could be forced under the genre of space rock in their second release, their debut album is too heavy to simply be rock. The perfect genre would be space metal but such a genre does not exist, nay, has never existed. With no specific genre to go by, it is difficult to pinpoint the band. 30 Seconds To Mars is inspired by such famous and peculiar bands as: Bjork, Tool, U2, and Pink Floyd. Out of these bands, Tool stands out as an obvious influence (Maynard from Tool even provided backing vocals on ‘Fallen’). Unconventional lyrics and metaphors, surprising changes from lighter rock to heavier music, dramatic buildups, sudden pauses, a moody atmosphere, and general experimentation can be found in 30 Seconds To Mars’ debut album.
With 30 Seconds To Mars’ motto, “Provehito in Altum”, (Latin for “launch forth into the deep”) there’s no doubt that the band swims in metaphors. One look at ‘93 Million Miles’ has enough metaphors to keep anyone, that does not have a degree in philosophy, puzzled for ages:
“Where does your garden grow. Tell me the secrets that you know; another time, another place. Where are the holy ones selling the secret to the sun. Welcome to the universe”.
Strange lyrics are often found in their songs, and the band’s influences are most likely to blame. Every moment is more thought-provoking than the next, resulting in a needlessly dramatic album. To top it all off, a hidden message lies within their every album: “Find the Argus Apocraphex”. The person that reads the message must then decide if the Argus Apocraphex is an object, a motto, or complete and utter poetic nonsense. ‘End of the Beginning’ complicates the question even further since the lyrics could simply be metaphorical, or could be implicate directions for solving the mystery:
“You saw what you get if you take what you take, look in the eye of the test it’s all because. Now there’s a feeling I get when I look to the left, but it should never be said. Start searching for a sign".
If it isn’t completely obvious from the start of the album, 30 Seconds To Mars has a thing for space music. ‘Capricorn’ starts off the album with the sound of a slowly rising synthesizer, similar to an alien space craft launching forth into deep space. The creepy synth then adds texture to the guitar-ridden atmosphere like a humming engine. This instrumental intro progresses until it fuses with Jared Leto’s vocals in the chorus. Bjork shows a notable influence in Jared’s crooning and creepy alien voice. Often, Jared uses half of his voice during verses only to unleash the rest of it in the choruses. In ‘Capricorn’, the same vocal patterns are evident, and the band as a result changes their technique to match the patterns. With a mix of layered synthesizers, Tool-ish guitar notes, relatively simple crunching guitar chords, separate acoustic guitars, and booming drums, the band keeps up with Jared's style nicely. The drums, however, steal the show (especially during songs such as ‘Fallen’ and ‘Echelon’) with its jungle beats that contribute to the overall hallucinogenic experience.
More like a sci-fi oriented, Tool-influenced, alternative metal band (but only in their debut album), 30 Seconds To Mars’ sound purposefully wanders through space and time. No matter what song is played, however, the sound is consistently atmospheric and spacey. Counting the number of times he says “welcome to the universe” in the album further fuses the message that 30 Seconds To Mars belongs in the cosmos. As ‘Year Zero’ boldly claims over and over again that they’ll never fade away, one can’t help but wonder if the band truly believes that they will live forever. Regardless of the final answer, one thing is clear: Jared Leto is not lost in space - he lives in it.
- Capricorn (A Brand New Name)
- The Mission
- End of the Beginning