Actor/musician Jared Leto and co. have taken almost five years to release the follow-up to their hugely successful sophomore album ‘The Beautiful Lie’ – an album which stapled the alternative rock group firmly into their scene, and gave them a tough potential to exceed against when creating the follow-up. The close of 2009 brings that, in the form of ‘This Is War’.
With the band’s self-titled debut being of the more progressive and technical effort, and then ‘The Beautiful Lie’ being almost a complete opposite with it’s straight-forward and easy to follow song structures and hooks, you’d think they’d improve and expand on either approach or even combine the best of the two. Instead, Jared Leto and fellow bandmates Tomo MiliÃ¨eviÃ¦ and brother Shannon Leto have decided to take a walk down a path of complete and utter epicness, only in most cases going completely over the top (or OTT for short) with it.
Now in some instances this works exceedingly well, and the likes of ‘Night Of The Hunter’, ‘This Is War’ and ‘Kings & Queens’ sound like anthems you could imagine filling every available oriface in stadiums and arenas around the world. Placing the exceptions just mentioned aside it all just seems, as already mentioned, just OTT. Everything is delivered in a cinematic and atmospheric way, even in places where it simply isn’t necessary or effective. For some this could be exactly what you’re looking for, but guaranteed nine out of ten of people who pick this up won’t be able to listen to this album in its entirety in one sitting unless their minds are put to it.
One stand-out moment on this record however is the band’s collaboration with popular rap artists Kanye West on the track ‘Hurricanes’. What should sound shambolic and out of place actually proves to be one of the strongest moments you’ll find on ‘This Is War’, despite it being one of the longest tracks on there. The blend of strings and piano brushed into the electronic/synth inserts adds an extra element to Jared‘s soulful yet at times aggrevated and powerful vocals, whilst Kanye‘s little vocal inserts bring the song to a level which puts this track in contest of actually being one of the best song’s the band have ever done.
To put it all simply, ‘This Is War’ is by no means a failed piece of work, but definitely one that deserves an awful lot of concentration and patience to appreciated in its full anthemic and cinematic glory. Not quite what was expected after the long wait.
Written by Zach Redrup