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> Tuesday, February 16th, 2010 > Lifestyles > Bobbyisms: Mars cleared for takeoff
Bobbyisms: Mars cleared for takeoff
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Published: Tuesday, February 16th, 2010
I write about random things a lot. I write a lot about random things. I confess, I’ve been a little curious about This Is War, the new album by 30 Seconds To Mars, ever since the positive feedback starting rolling in.
The group founded by brothers Jared and Shannon Leto in 1998 features Tomo Millcevic on guitar. Honestly, I had written them off after 2005’s A Beautiful Lie failed to make any kind of good or lasting impression — the sum of the parts were greater than the whole. All the more reason I wanted to hear This Is War — remember the first time you heard American Idiot after writing off Green Day? I wanted that feeling again.
This new disc had a reputation that preceded it; there was one thing in particular that made this album a must-listen for me (and if I’m being honest, made this column a must-write as well). While the feedback generated a good vibe, and the lead single Kings And Queens played enticingly on the radio, the real allure lay for me in The Summit.
The Summit was a gathering that the band held at the Avalon Club in Los Angeles in April 2009. It was an opportunity for the band to invite a fraction of their fans into the recording process, a chance for the fans to witness and experience first-hand the drafting and demoing that was going into producing the album.
Nearly 1,000 people showed up from across North America and Europe, and the focus very quickly shifted to ways of orchestrating and recording all these voices. The sudden idea of such a massive choir was too good to pass up, so the band managed to get them recorded, which they’ve worked into the record at length.
“There were some things [we tried] that were left-field sound experiments — using the group, the collective, as a musical instrument,” said Jared Leto to MTV shortly afterward. “We did everything from percussive expression to whispering to things that were a little bit more familiar, like inviting the 1,000 people that were there to sing the chorus of a song. And those people who were a part of it all will be a part of the next 30 Seconds to Mars album. It was quite simply one of the best things we’ve done as a band.”
There is a definite overall tone of urgency and optimism; sweeping choruses and truly epic hooks successfully unite the tracks in exciting ways. Escape sets an anticipative tone that leads well into the soaring Night Of The Hunter and Kings And Queens. That sense of tone, of a breath before a powerful move is captured again in 100 Suns as it leads into Hurricane, a track recorded with and featuring Kanye West, which is good despite the short freestyle.
Top 5 songs: Kings And Queens, Vox Populi, Night Of The Hunter, Closer To The Edge, Hurricane.
Twenty per cent that I would cut (two songs): Search & Destroy, L490.
For the first time, I honestly found myself thinking that Leto makes a better musician than an actor (well, technically the first time was when I watched Requiem For A Dream, but that was different). This Is War is quite good, and worth a listen.
If this is the sort of progress and improvement that we can come to expect from 30 Seconds To Mars pushing themselves to experiment during recording and interacting closely with their fans, I can’t wait for their next record. Frankly, I can’t wait for more artists to adopt this same mindset — I have so much to say to Gavin Rossdale... I’m out of words.