30 Seconds to Mars - This Is War

by Rich Morris Rating:3 Release Date:2009-12-07

'Escape', the first track on this, the third LP by Jared Leto's band, is fantastic. After tense tribal drumming, fading in like encroaching thunder, Leto growls some menacing threats and then - boom! - a whopping huge choir erupts into a chorus of the album's title before everything dissolves into vapour trails.

After that, things go down hill very quickly. 30 Seconds to Mars have two apparent influences on this album: the bombastic rap metal of Linkin Park and the lumpen MOR grunge of Nickelback. Most songs are loud, chest-beating anthems full of assertions of wrongdoing and promises of revenge. It seems likely the title refers not to American foreign policy but to the kind of vague personal vendetta that adolescents find perennially engaging. On the album's quieter moments things are, if anything, worse: '100 Suns' is a dopily nihilistic ballad which lists things not to believe in including god, sin, peace and (bafflingly giving the album's title) war. It comes across like Nine Inch Nails for tweenagers. All in all, pretty woeful.

Richard Morris

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