30 Seconds to Mars has been called both the next great rock band and one of the most pretentious. While they’re not the greatest thing to happen to music, they have some pretty impressive songs. It’s also amazing that an actor can make such great music since actors usually can’t make a smooth transition to the music world. The band’s second album has some of their most popular songs, but can’t seem to decide on the sound they’re going for. Still, it makes for a pretty decent listen if you’re looking for something new.
The album beings with “Attack.” It has really cool keyboards that sound like space music, along with an abrasive guitar riff. It’s a catchy song, with impressive vocals from Leto. The way he lets go and begins screaming is pretty awesome and a nice change from the vocals on the debut. The album continues with the heavy “A Beautiful Lie.” The song begins with a somber piano playing a few notes before it explodes in a mass of guitar and drums. It’s a slower song, but manages to sound intense.
This album would not be complete without the most popular track “The Kill.” This may just be me, but I always think of the video whenever I hear this song. Aside from that, it’s a really great, catchy song about coming to terms with who you really are. Great vocals, awesome lyrics, and a cool dancing guitar riff all make for a great song, but it’s not the best on the album. One of the best tracks here is “Savior.” It starts off kind of weird with what sounds like a phone conversation, but there’s a beep that sounds at the end of the call that acts a base for the music. It’s a really cool effect for the song. Another thing I love about this track is how every line begins with “Until you.” Not only does it sound cool, but it creates a really nice flow. It’s also a pretty energetic song, which is lacking for this album.
One thing I noticed about a lot of the songs is that they sound a lot like The Cure. I first noticed this on the track “Was it a Dream?” It begins with sounds from a thunderstorm and after a few seconds heavy percussion comes in, followed by the somber guitar riff. All of this sounds like “Same Deep Water as You” from The Cure’s album Disintegration. It even begins with a rainstorm also! It’s a complete rip off. Another time where they seem to channel The Cure is on “The Story.” Here the guitar sounds like it’s being played underwater….just like it sounds on “Prayers for Rain” by The Cure. Then when the sound lightens up, it sounds like “Pictures of You.” And they seem to give a small nod to The Cure on “The Fantasy:” “maybe tonight we could forget about it all/it could be just like heaven.” It’s not a problem, but I just think it’s weird because I don’t ever remember them mentioning that they like or are inspired by The Cure.
The issue I have with the album is that the last half got really boring. The songs are slower, heavier, and get pretty repetitive. “A Modern Myth” has a pretty simple acoustic guitar riff and it’s not a bad song, but after hearing Jared Leto sing “The secret’s out” for the fifth time, it gets tiring. The songs just get boring after “From Yesterday.” Another problem with the album is that it feels like every song has a really heavy message that the band is trying to cram in your head. Even if you’re not sure what the guys are trying to say, you can just tell they’re trying to get a message across from the sound and tone of the songs. It’s not a huge issue, but again it’s kind of annoying.
I don’t know much about the band, but it seems like for this album they couldn’t decide what sound they were going for. The first three or four songs sound like heavy, intricate, prog rock, sort of like Angels and Airwaves. Then they sound gloom and doom like The Cure. Finally, a couple of songs sound like energetic hard rock. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, especially if they were playing around with their sound. It can just catch you off guard when you go from one song to another.
Overall, the album gets 7.5/10. They have some interesting and catchy songs here, but their point of always having some sort of message is pretty tiring. After listening to the album, I can understand why people would consider them pretentious. They’re music is kind of heavy and intricate both in sound and subject matter, but I still wouldn’t call them a bad band. No one is certain what’s going on with the band now. There were rumors of a break up, which were denied, but let’s just hope whatever music they make in the future is good.