Review Summary: This is.... not worth your time.
3STM self-titled debut was a grunge/rock style record that used bands like Nirvana and A Perfect Circle as their pallet of sound. The end result seemed like a promising start for these guy’s. In 2005 the band released their second album, A Beautiful Lie, which took a slightly different turn but still had the foundations of the band mixed with a tasteful amount of pop elements and more straightforward rock (the music videos were infuriatingly arty and prentious) and overall the changes went in the bands favour catering for old fans while drawing in new fans.
Now, if you look up interviews of these guy’s you’ll actually find out why they went from grunge to epic-chanting bullsh!t in three records; you could give them credit for being so bold or further your anger with the band on their honesty, but the answer they gave was simple: they did it get a larger fanbase faster as they weren't getting noticed as quick as they'd liked. With the change in sound with their second record they noticed how much more exposure they recieved, taking that sucessful sound and magnifying it by 10, they knew they'd get the results they wanted.
The final product and latest album, This Is War, is one I don’t hate, but I certainly wouldn’t call it a step forward. During the making of This Is War the band went through a lot of crap, going through a lawsuit with their previous record label that was dragged on for quite some time. To make matters worse the bassist did one (probably realizing where the band was headed). It’s fair to say Jared and co. were in a bad place at the time of recording. But, fuelled with anger they had something to talk about.
The end result?
My feelings for this album are of bitter disappointment, because the few good songs on this album are really good, like Night of the Hunter: it’s a very solid, catchy and upbeat song that ticked all the boxes for a good 3STM track. The problem is songs like this rarely come up. I found two main problems that killed this album for me 1.) Jared’s voice throughout most of the album is him doing that awful “epic” whispering, singing he occasionally did in A Beautiful Lie and 2.) the child chior. The child chior is the biggest problem for me and to make matters worse it’s in almost every song! Why would the band decide to do this? Maybe Jared thought if he created this little club (ironic, no?) of ankle biting sh!ts to sing on the album it’d bring swarms of young people to the feet of the band, so they could create an army (that looks like a fascist rally in some of the music videos) of mindless fools that will give them lots of attention and money.
Lets look at this from a different angle: if you like your songs to be watered down and have irritating backing vocals from screaming kids, you’ll love this album. The frustrating thing is when the songs don’t have the choir in and Jared actually attempts to sing, the songs do pay off. Night of the Hunter, This is War, Hurricane, Stranger in a Strange Land and L 490 all have very appealing things about them, that not only sound great but, push the band forward in all the right ways. If the album was consistant and followed these songs throughout the whole album it would have been a much better effort. Hell, I wouldn’t have minded the chanting if it was only for one song, but it’s like everything in this album: it’s overindulged. Everything has to be Hollywood epic, from the singing to the music itself and unfortunately everything suffers from it.
Overall the album poorly masks its obvious marketing ploy with pointless and unnessesary chanting. And while the second half of the album shows a lot more promise with experimentation of sounds, it's quickly dragged down with things that make it wrong. Hopefully they'll sort out what went wrong in the next record... if there is one.