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30 Seconds to Mars: This is War

August 27, 2011

Jared Leto was serious when he shared in his interviews that their latest album, This is War (TIW), was a concept album—with songs touching on drama, struggle, optimism and sexuality. If you listen to the previous albums, you might notice that there was that progression from the noisy-out-of-this-world sound towards a more refined, packed set of songs.

It is still experimental but here, the band has also embraced the synth-rock/progressive/metal sound that is a notch different from the emo/post grunge appeal of The Kill. Shannon, during one of his interviews, shared that as a musician, he tries to make a completely different product from his previous materials. This is evident in the band’s succeeding records after their self-titled debut album. Each album is different from the other yet you can still get that distinct 30 Seconds to Mars (TSM) mark.

TIW album, in particular, has longer songs which are highlighted by the extensive introductions (which I think is one of the reasons why some radio stations do not play their songs). Here we find the band experimenting further with their sound and with the way they commune with their musical instruments. Noticeable, for one, is the way the band has invited the fans to be part of the record. The band came up with a mini-convention called “The Summit” where they tried to create a musical instrument out of the collective sounds made by the attendees—clapping of hands, stomping of feet, singing of the song choruses. And if you’ve seen the band perform live, you will further appreciate this concept.

The album begins with the low hum (Escape)  accelerating into a distinct sound and ends with a non-lyrical track (L490). What is amazing about this album is the fact that the melodies are enough to either lull you to sleep or wake the inner angst in you. Jared’s voice can be haunting, seducing, rage-inducing, soothing. Shannon’s take on the drumbeats is very commendable. Tomo’s guitar and keyboard techniques provide the unique sound for every song.

TIW is liberating, electrifying, awakening.  Get ready for an out-of-this-world experience while still getting the same energy that can only come from TSM.

Escape The first track in the album and rightfully so. Escape starts with a Monk chant followed by the sound of the guitars and drums, with Jared’s voice calling the intruder’s attention to ready him for the whole TIW experience. Then you will hear the Echelon/Mars Army’s voice, singing/declaring in unison that the war (the whole musical orgasmic experience) is about to start. Now, whose attention wouldn’t be piqued?

Night of the Hunter After the slight distraction from the French narration at the beginning, the drumbeat will definitely affect you. You are transported to a jungle where you are the predator, off to haunt your enemies. This song has really grown on me after having been gone to the concert last July. Jared was amazing and I could tell he pretty much enjoyed his performance, seeing the crowd go wild. He kept saying “Jump! Jump! Jump!” much to the delight of the crowd.  The beauty of song lyrics is that, like a poem, you can give your own interpretation and still enjoy the entire art.

Kings and Queens Another song that makes me want to jump up and down, this song is the reason why I looked forward to seeing The Legend of the Guardians earlier this year. The song was the one they used in the trailer. Unfortunately, it was not used during the movie per se. Again, if you listen to the drumbeats, you’ll admire how Shannon excel in his craft. Everytime I hear this on my player, I have this urge to get up from my seat, raise my right hand and sing with the band. It liberates you like it’s  redemption day.

This is War I’m glad this song made it to the local airwaves  (specially the radio station I’m listening to). Listen to Escape then this and you’re off to war—whatever kind it is. This song just makes you want to fight for a better world and believe in the good that is within the hearts of everyone. Again, amazing drumbeats and guitar sounds. Towards the end of the song, you will feel like you have indeed gone to a battle and that finally you are near the victory.

100 Suns  Reminds me of Imagine where no one is above anyone and everyone is free. ­Others may contest that this is not an original concept but who cares? TSM gives the thought a new meaning, taking it to another level, even. I won’t be surprised that Echelon will find an attachment to this song. If you have the tendency to be emo all of a sudden, do not listen to this when you are vulnerable-like you are alone in dark room and you have just heard the news about the Pukkelpop incident. Save yourself.

Hurricane  I still like this original version over that with Kanye West in it. Tugs at the heart, I must say.

Closer to the Edge This is one of my ultimate and early favorite tracks. I love how the keyboard sounds blend with the drumbeats. Jared’s voice only adds up to that urgency to jump and scream at the top of your lungs.

Vox Populi I always find my self affected when I hear this song. It makes me want to feel (and be) alive, go out there, raise my arms and just feel free. And it makes a whole lot of difference singing along with the band and the rest of the Echelon.

Search and Destroy The electronic sounds are more prominent here. I’ve fallen more in love to this song after watching the band live. I remember I was jumping up and down; it felt like it was flying more than jumping. Lyrics that struck a nerve include “I’m no Jesus, neither are you, my friend,” “A million little pieces, I’ve stolen from you,” and “I believe, I believe, I believe.” In military parlance, if I’m not mistaken, ‘search and destroy’ is used to haunt down your enemies and get rid of them as quickly as possible. The song may be talking about accepting one’s shortcomings (“guilty as charged”), dealing with them and and learning from them in return.

Alibi This one is a killer. Just when you think the album is full of rage and angst in fast-beating melodies, TSM makes a 360-degree turn and surprises you. You can feel the emotions—the frustration, the struggle; the hope and the resolve to get better again. And that’s just the lyrics. At first you might focus on Jared’s voice but try listening to the entire song and you will be surprised by how much the progression of sounds goes on.  It maybe a slow song but it does not skip with the drumbeats. I must say, hearing this only made me respect Shannon more as an artist.

Stranger in A Strange Land The electronic sound is more prominent here. You can actually feel the slow trance-like mood which can turn you off if it’s not your thing

L490    You may want to prepare your eardrums for the feedback-sort of intro but after that you’ll get an amazing guitar strumming perfect for a train ride where you’re all by yourself, watching the world speed by. This can be used for a movie. Definitely a perfect ending to the whole TIW experience.

 

 

 

 

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