30 Seconds To Mars found fame with their upbeat tracks and dirty pop vocals and I fell in love with them for that exact reason. “Escape” was a perfect title choice for the opener off their third album, This Is War, because the noise the band creates clears the listener’s mind of any distraction and prepares you for an audio adventure. Vocalist Jared Leto sings his ass off, revealing a wider vocal range than he has used on previous records, but doesn’t overwhelm the songs with Bono-esque yelling. For almost the entire record, Leto has a cool, collected feel on the verses but when the chorus and bridge come along he belts with what seems like everything he has.
The band also includes more strings and a few more electronic sound effects than usual, especially on their single “Kings And Queens.” The title track might be the least interesting track on the album. It just happens to have really simple guitar and drums, and compared to every other song, it lacks creativity. The token acoustic track, “100 Suns,” sounds like a depressing thank you to the band’s fans, who sing gang vocals in the background while Leto repeats the same somber line over and over again. This track sets a precedent for the rest of the album by slowing everything down a bit.
There are a few ballads, and some whining, but the way the band approached “Vox Populi,” “Search And Destroy,” and “Stranger In A Strange Land” is intriguing enough to make the listener want to see what direction the band is taking the album. I recommend the first half of the album for casual listeners but the second half is a bit more experimental for the band, so if you want to take the ride with them, this album is a go.
In A Word: Adventurous