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30 Seconds To Mars - 'This Is War'

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Fraser McAlpine | 09:12 UK time, Thursday, 1 April 2010

30 Seconds To Mars

Sadly, my dream that this would be an account of what happened on the day the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse were first introduced has not been realised. There are no details of what Death said to Famine on shaking hands ("wow, you're almost as thin as I am", probably) or what disgusting smear Pestilence left on War's armour.

There are also no lyrics devoted to the inevitable four-hour bickerfest in order to decide what to call their little troupe: a rite of passage familiar to anyone who's ever tried to get a new gang off the ground.

"how about the End of the World Four?", "No, that's too 'beat combo'. Apokkalips?", "I dunno, people might think we're a boyband", "or a metal band", "and what is so wrong with being thought of as a metal band?", "well it's alright for you, War, you look the part", "Pestilence, can you stop oozing on my sandwiches? You KNOW how hungry I am", and so on.

I don't know what 30 Seconds To Mars were thinking really, wasting a perfectly good title on some declaration of defiance. I mean, how ORDINARY...

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Just kidding. No song can really be described as ordinary if it features Jared Leto attempting to inspire his immense army of troops to keep fighting until the edge of the Earth, by screaming at them as if it's the battle of Agincourt and he is the French.

I mean, yes, there is a slight element of bombastic fooey to proceedings. It's just possible that the song was inspired by watching too many movie trailers, as a lot of the lyrics seem to have that hyper-dramatic pitch to them. I'm surprised Jared doesn't sing something along the lines of "In a world of [badthing] and [anotherbadthing], one man must seek out the [courage/strength/hope] he needs, to save the [woman/family/treehouse] he loves from the forces of [reallybadthing]."

But really, that is just what this band are like. They've taken the internal bleak drama of emo, and pumped it full of muscular passion and martial fury, before projecting it onto a really, REALLY wide screen. It would make no sense for music this committed to be anything less than ridiculously overblown.

Suddenly lyrics about why some girls are a bit rubbish would seem lame. Worlds collide, cultures rise and fall, there's a messiah, a pariah, but definitely no Mariah. That is how 30 Seconds To Mars do what they do, and if you have a problem with it, I suggest you take it up with the enormous army of eyeliner-clad warriors waiting in the car park.

Careful though, they have sharp nails.

Four starsDownload: Out now
BBC Music page

(Fraser McAlpine)


  • Comment number 1.

    And getting to the song , that is an absolutely brilliant chorus , that after the verse , lifts the song into passionate , melodic , overdrive .

    You can see why 30 Seconds to Mars have so many followers , The Kill is a fantastic 5 star song , the energy and detail they put into their live shows and videos is immense , Jared is an absolute hottie with hidden depths , he is even mentioned in the lyrics of The Teenagers Starlett Johannsson !
    Their Radio 1 Live Lounge of Kanye West's Stronger in 2009 was rightly voted the years best , their 2010 version of Lady GaGa's Bad Romance is astoundingly good , A Beautiful Lie and Kings and Queens were both good singles , they inspire their cadet fans to be positive and unite with a sense of unity and justice .

    I could go on , but I predict there will be others to take up the baton . . ,.

  • Comment number 2.

    And this review right here, ladies and gentlemen, is a fine example of why I started coming to this blog in the first place. Those first three paragraphs are brilliant. Hats off to you, F-Mac.

    Apart from the star rating, of course. The song is utter baws, and My Chemical Romance already pumped up emo with muscular whatzit and martial doodlebugs a few years ago. Made a far better and more interesting job of it too.

  • Comment number 3.

    Ah Curtains, 30 Seconds To Mars aren't an emo band. Emo bands are those sort of bands that create songs about n
    girl (or in Paramore's case boy) troubles and combine it with loud hooky instrumentation and big catchy choruses and other little hooks like "ba da ba da ba ba ba" and such. Everyone would love emo bands if they didn't sound so alike.

    Typical emo bands include All Time Low, The Academy Is..., All American Rejects, Metro Station, New Found Glory, Madina Lake, Kids In Glass Houses and You Me At Six. Then there's the more innovative bands like My Chemical Romance, Paramore, Fall Out Boy and Panic At The Disco.

  • Comment number 4.

    We could argue until we are blue in the face about what constitutes an emo band. MCR obviously are one. I would argue, particularly the earlier stuff, Paramore are a good example too. 30 Seconds to Mars I would say blur the boundary a little more between emo and rock. Metro Station certainly aren't emo though! They blur the lines between rubbish music and catchy very well (so sad to hear of their split...)

    I love this song. It is completely over blown, dramatic, dark and frankly ridiculous, but what did you expect with a band with an actor as the lead singer? Clearly the band are portraying an image and a sound deliberately. It isn't like this is a song off an indie pop album and it's massively out of context.

    Great band, great song and a great album to boot. Plus Leto obviously a fittie.

  • Comment number 5.

    Randy, I was commenting on the remark in Fraser's review about taking some emo characteristics and modifying them. If you disagree, you want to take your beef to the source, ie Fraser. But I happen to agree - they've got the melodrama and angst of emo (and the eyeliner), but made it stadium-rock.

    Incidentally, I'm no emo expert, but All American Rejects? Kids in Glass Houses? Madina Lake? You Me At Six? Metro Station? Pop-rock bands, all of them (which needn't be an insult). Only the second group of bands you mentioned have ever fallen into the emo category (and even some of them have moved on). "Songs about girl troubles and combined with loud hooky instrumentation and big catchy choruses" describes 50% of all pop music.

  • Comment number 6.

    he's got you there spirit.. and i think it better to consider emo a look and not a genre of music, just because no one can agree on what it is.. music that is emotional??

  • Comment number 7.

    Im having a 30 Seconds to Mars relapse in my life .. meaning I'm going back and listening to lots of them again. Brilliant stuff.

    Plus we have debated a couple of times what makes good music videos.. and how poor they often are these days. Check out some of theirs!

  • Comment number 8.

    'Kings and Queens' is a brilliant one. Less like a movie for once, from them. But really good.

  • Comment number 9.

    Regarding anyones decision to lump 30 Seconds To Mars and other bands lazily as " emo "

    Sorry bands evolve and make different songs .

    Judge every band on their individual merits , no two bands are Exactly THE SAME or release the SAME songs , word for word , bar for bar .

    In the words of a very good friend " labels are for losers "

    And in the words of another good friend .

    " Labels are a wonderful time saver , they tell you everything you want to know about a song , without actually having to listen to it . "

    Amen to that .

  • Comment number 10.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.


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