Jared Leto might be seen as one of the more pretentious individuals on the face of the Earth...
Jared Leto might be seen as one of the more pretentious individuals on the face of the Earth, but when it comes to his band, there’s no denying its achievements. 2005’s A Beautiful Lie produced some big, big songs that made 30 Seconds to Mars one of the “scene’s” figureheads, but on the band’s new album, which has taken them four years to write, record and release, they go to war. At war with who? Well we don’t really know, but what is for sure is the fact that whoever 30 Seconds to Mars go to war with on this record, Jared Leto and co are going to be coming out on top, because this is epic.
The record begins with “Escape,” a track that has minimal vocals but instead builds anticipation for the main attraction with a frantic drum beat, and when that anticipation reaches fever pitch the band rip into “Night of the Hunter,” one of the biggest and best songs on the entire record. This track, along with many others such as single “Kings and Queens” and the Kanye West-assisted “Hurricane,” feature the trademark 30 Seconds to Mars sound of quiet verses with hushed vocals from Leto and huge, undeniable choruses. And it is on these unrelenting choruses where Leto comes into his own as vocalist. His piercing voice just goes on and on from strength to strength.
On This is War, however, Leto is assisted on vocals by a backing group that consists of hundreds of the band’s fans who attended a special album preview and were recorded for use on the album earlier in the year. This massive backing choir comes into play and many of the album’s tracks and more often than not only serves to make the songs sound even more impressive than they already are. This is a band that has always done a lot for its fans but this is taking it to another level, actually including them in the recording of the album. The band also ran a competition that allowed 2,000 fans to have their photos used as the record’s album art. Pretty cool.
This is War is a record that will please both new and old fans alike. It merges the two differing sounds of the band’s previous two releases, as it is crammed with catch-all choruses as mentioned but is also fairly progressive as the band’s self-titled debut was. Only these progressive moments are more haunting and epic than ever before, as “Stranger in a Strange Land” proves. Instrumental album-closer “L490” is simply bizarre but makes for a intriguingly psychedelic end to a stunning album.
And for those wondering how 30 Seconds to Mars and Kanye West sound on the same song, I’ll just mention that “Hurricane” is as near flawless a song as I have heard all year long. Neither West nor Leto take away from the other and in fact they compliment each other almost perfectly, Kanye’s verse being one of the album’s many, many highlights.
As for the album as a whole, despite its lengthy running time it never drags and on repeated listens you merely discover more and more intriguing sounds and genius lyrics that make it seem fresh every time. It took me numerous listens to realize that the French-spoken countdown on “Night of the Hunter” actually goes “un, deux, trois, cinq.” What happened to four? Weird. But that’s one of many idiosyncrasies that make this such a unique and powerful record.
Essential downloads: “Night of the Hunter,” “Kings and Queens,” “This is War,” “100 Suns,” “Hurricane,” “Vox Populi,” “Search and Destroy,” “Strangers in a Strange Land” and “L490.”
This review is spot-on! They should release "Night of The Hunter" as their next single, this song is over the top, "Hurricane" isn't a bad choice either. Anyway I've heard there's another version of Hurricane; Kanye being non-existent and that the song ended differently, any truth to this?
Also, they're having a poll as to what song should be the next single, go freakin' vote or whatever, NIGHT OF THE HUNTER! LET IT BE!