The first thing to note about the album is its length. Most songs in a present day rock album have a run time that is somewhere between three to four minutes with the occasional five to six minute song. However, the album, This is War, posses songs that are close to six minutes each, save for track four, “100 Suns”. This makes the album significantly longer than most with a run time of about an hour. While not exceedingly long, the run time for each song can be a potential deterrent for some.
Moving on, the album in general has an almost robotic sound. Not in terms of the vocals sounding augmented, but a lot of the background rhythms are synth based such as the recorded shouts and cries of their fans used in several songs including track three, “This is War”, the album’s namesake. Keeping that in mind, a lot of the intensity and draw of the songs come from the chorus, where the electronics are most prominent. While this is okay, the listener cannot hear much of the actual band aside from the vocals. That being said, the electronics that are used do blend almost perfectly with the over all style that the album possess, providing powerful support to the vocals as well as reflecting the emotions that said vocals generate.
The album starts out strong with “Night of the Hunter”. The song starts off with a synthesized rhythm that sets the tone and pace of the song before the vocals even begin. Once the vocals begin, the songs gets softer and as the song continues on, it gets steadily crescendos until vocalist is practically shouting. Along with the heightened volume, vocalist projects the desire to keep pushing forward, instilling optimism in the listener. The song continues on with the sudden decrescendo when each verse begins and the crescendo into the chorus. Over all, it is one of the albums more intense pieces.
Moving through the album, the harshness and intensity of the album steadily decreases with the last few songs taking a a much slower pace. This decrescendo seems to have direct correlation to the generated feelings that the listener gets as the listen to the album. With the first fewsongs, the listener can pick up a triumphant feeling from not only the lyrics, but the tone as well. This triumph, and in turn, optimism, starts to become less and less, starting at “Hurricane”, the album’s fifth track.
Like the songs before and after it, “Hurricane” possess strong electronic overtones that serve to set a mood for the song. The lyrics begin to ask a question to a supposed lover, asking them if they truly loved the speaker and, if so, what would they do for them. This feeling of not truly understanding the singer’s own significance to their lover is magnified by the slow dulcet tones of the synthesizer. After this, that feeling of triumph all but dies as the ensuing music generates more, for lack of a better word, depressing feelings. Feelings of inadequacy or self -loathing. That is, until the final track; track ten’s “Stranger in a Strange Land”.
The final song of the album begins with, you guessed it, a synthesized rhythm. This rhythm starts out very fast, so fast that it almost seems to speed up if you are not paying attention. This “solo” lasts for over a minute, making it seem as if the song was going to be an instrumental until the vocals begin. At the start of the vocals, the beat changes to one that reminds me of a metronome. That is to say that it was like listening to the same note repeatedly. Then the chorus hits and the rhythm shifts back to the fast pace version that the song started with. While the song does have a lethargic tone in parts, this piece does contain instances where the singer seems triumphant of optimistic about the coming future, though this does not occur until the end of the song.
Overall, This is War is a…different kind of album. It demonstrates multiple influences of many genres that come together to form an almost futuristic sound. What the band lacks in actual band sound is made up for its unique way of introducing electronics in its songs. Thirty Seconds to Mars has a different approach to making their songs, but they do work and while some do not appreciate this type of music, the band still deserves recognition.
Review By: DJ Adams