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Ok, so I couldn't write a month of music reviews without writing one about what is probably my favourite album - since I got into music properly that is. 30 Seconds to Mars, along with Placebo were my first introductions to the genre of music that is without a doubt my favourite now. I don't really remember how I found them, but I am more than happy that I did - and it just happens that their debut album remains my favourite, as much as I love their albums since, because it just seems to have something a bit different about it, compared to some of the other music about at that time!
~*~ 30 Seconds to Mars... ~*~
The band was formed in 1998 by brothers Jared and Shannon Leto, the boys from Los Angeles began the band as a bit of a family project - but they began to bring in other members to complete their sound. After some messing around with the band line-up, they finally ended up with the line-up that has changed again since. The boys official line up is Jared, Shannon and Tomo MiliÄeviÄ++ - with members that come and go for touring and recording if it's needed. There is a lot of speculation about where the band got their name from, Jared actually said this about the band name - "For us, the name 30 Seconds To Mars has little to do with space, the universe or anything like that. It is a name that works on several different levels. Most importantly, it is a good representation of our sound. It's a phrase that is lyrical, suggestive, cinematic, and filled with immediacy. It has some sense of otherness to it. The concept of space is so overwhelming and all-encompassing I doubt there is a song written that doesn't fall within it." So there we have it!
Some of you might be thinking hang on Jared Leto, do I recognise that name? Well you might do actually because he is an actor as well as musician. Jared has been in; Fight Club, Panic Room, American Psycho, Alexander, and one of my favourite films - Requiem for a Dream. Don't expect the band to be one of those side projects from a Hollywood actor, as it seems Leto isn't quite that big-headed and apparently refuses to play venues that have used his name to promote the band.
Since this album, 30 Seconds to Mars have produced two further albums; A Beautiful Lie, and This is War. Both fantastic albums in their own right, but this one will remain my favourite unless they happen to completely blow my mind with their next one!
~*~ Track Listing ~*~
1. Capricorn (A Brand New Name) - 3:53
2. Edge of the Earth - 4:37
3. Fallen - 4:59
4. Oblivion - 3:29
5. Buddha for Mary - 5:45
6. Echelon - 5:50
7. Welcome to the Universe - 2:40
8. The Mission - 4:05
9. End of the Beginning - 4:40
10. 93 Million Miles - 5:20
11. Year Zero (includes hidden track The Struggle) - 7:53
~*~ I Think It Might Take A Bit Longer Than 30 Seconds! ~*~
Musically this album is very different to anything else I own - and I have a lot of guitar based albums, but this one just combines instruments in such a way that it sounds so very different. However that can be said about the entire 30STM back catalogue, because they are a band that is very different to a lot of the mainstream 'rock' music. Which is why I have a funny feeling, they aren't too popular in the UK - but that sure isn't going to stop me liking them! The album art work is very much typical 30STM, they started as they meant to go on with this album, incorporating their symbols on the front cover that seem to get around as much as they do. Of which they have a little story of their own about what they mean, and how they should be interpreted, however the band have never commented on it, but a lot of fans have them tattooed on their bodies. The child on the front, I'm not so sure about, but it seems to work for them and whatever they were aiming to do with that, it all seems to be quite white and clinical - I could go into why I think that is but I won't bore you, and I'd get on with talking about the music that makes this album one of my all-time favourites.
Listening to this albums lyrics, you might well begin to wonder what on earth, or rather not on earth Jared is banging on about - because they are a little bit on the random side. The opening track to the album 'Capricorn' is one of the simplest tracks lyrically to understand if I'm honest, it just seems to be about disappearing and starting again - the actual lyrics totally give it away! 'Edge of the Earth,' has a little bit of a controlling feel to it, an almost wanting to take over the planet feel - 'You wanna be the one in control..... It's not a matter of luck; it's just a matter of time.' Anyone object to having Jared Leto running the planet?! Not me! 'Fallen,' has a very space like feel to it, it's like the album relates a lot to the band name - but it's all metaphors because looking into the lyrics it's asking about being listened to... Sounds like a relationship gone wrong to me! 'Oblivion,' is one of my favourite songs off the album, the lyrics are very repetitive, but at the same time quite powerful without being sure what they quite mean! Now 'Buddha for Mary,' is a bit of a weird one, when I first heard it the lyrics confused me no end - I thought it was a strange topic to be singing about but Jared has suggested that this song could be about anyone, but it does sound quite personal from an experience he is not quite willing to share. 'Echelon,' is a bit sad when you actually look into the lyrics I found, it might just be me but it looks like a loss of someone inspired this with the lyrics 'Again and again and again and again I see your face in everything.' 'Welcome to the Universe,' is a very simple song with very little in the way of lyrics, but what there is, is quite repetitive - but by no means boring... 'The Mission' well this is my favourite song on the album, has been since I first got it, absolutely love it, it is too quite simple, but the combination of lyrics and music make it incredibly powerful to listen to! Now, I have a feeling that Jared Leto, is quite a complicated fella looking at the lyrics for 'End of the Beginning,' as he is going on about paradigms and all sorts that look a little bit complicated - especially for a song. '93 Million Miles' is a bit of a grumpy song lyrically, Jared has suggested all the songs are based on personal experience, if so don't get on the wrong side of him, else he might write a bitter song about him. 'Year Zero,' has a bit of a bonus track in it called 'The Struggle' the lyrics to the first part of the song are very much repetitive but when heard are very much like an anthem at the end, and well I'll not ruin the hidden track for anyone - but it is very good, and different to a lot of the rest of the album.
Musically this album is second to none, the combinations of chords and the amazing drumming just make this album hard to stop listening to, it's one of the reasons it became one of my favourites so fast. The opening track, has such a presence to it, that it actually drags you into the album, without you actually thinking about it, then the second track 'Edge of the Earth,' carries on the strong powerful guitar sound that, it could almost be the same song, with the pace changed a tiny bit. The pace drops off as we get into 'Fallen,' but it starts out with a pretty amazing riff that full blast would blow your ears out - it keeps the pace for a great introduction but then slows down and becomes quite serene during the vocals - but it provides a nice contrast, to the frenzy that 'Oblivion' gets into after a slow start. It has a fast paced drum beat, that has a very rhythmic guitar piece running through it - it is a very heavy song as you hit the middle - but keeps dipping between being calm and frenzied which is part of the reason I like it so much. The pace is dropped down a notch with 'Buddha for Mary,' as it is a bit of an odd one to get your head around, so the track is dropped pace around the lyrics - which just makes me listen to them too much and wonder who on earth he has written about! Now 'Echelon' is a weird one, it starts out quite melodical and serene, but builds with the drum solos this band are quite fond of - and a little bit of an electro feel to it - but by the time the chorus is here it picks itself up and makes you want to sing along! 'Welcome to the Universe,' drops the pace a bit for about the first twenty seconds and then you are back into full throttle guitar, the kind of thing that just makes this band as memorable as they are. It begins to get really heavy around the chorus, and a little bit screamy, which is not to everyone's taste I know! My favourite track 'The Mission,' definitely sounds like the band is on a bit a mission to be honest, it's got a very strong but rhythmic drum beat, that makes you think a little bit of a jungle feel especially after 'the wild,' is mentioned. It feels like it gets faster as the track goes along, but that is purely down to Jared's voice becoming more urgent as he sings. 'End of the Beginning' keeps that tension and hype going with a high powered opening, which continues all the way through - the combination of strong guitars and a very high use of cymbals makes this song one of the best musically, showcasing the bands obvious talent. '93 Million Miles,' is quite electro compared to the rest of the album, with a lot of obvious synthesised parts incorporated with strong guitars and drums as is normal with 30STM. 'Year Zero,' is a strong way to end this album as it focuses on their trademark heavily cymbal based drum beats, and fades down to let you hear the lyrics clearly - nothing worse than not hearing them!
Vocally Jared Leto is a bit of a dream, he's got the masculine voice that is needed to carry off some of the more gritty lyrics, and strong enough voice to hold his own again the backdrop he provides himself with some of his guitar work, without overpowering everything. At the same time he has a low and soft enough voice, to make his lyrics heard in the way he wants them to be heard. I'm very much being a girl here but wow this man has a voice that would make me melt if he sang to me, as hearing him live on their AOL Sessions, it is pretty hard to resist - and in conjunction with some acoustics which this band are incredibly good at, it's hard to deny that this band have talent in bucket loads! This band though are very unlike many others out there so it is hard to say if you like one band, you will like these, but if you are a fan of 'rock' or 'alternative music' I would say give them a go on any album because there is a bit of something for everyone in all their music.
~*~ Download This... ~*~
Welcome to the Universe...
But I would say get the whole album really!
~*~ Price and Availability ~*~
This album is available all over for varying prices, depending on the time of year and how popular the band are at the time. I would suggest Amazon or Play.com as they normally have new and used copies that are a bit cheaper if you aren't too sure if you like the album all that much - even so it will grow on you and if you do get a bargain you are getting an album you will be listening to for years. There are always the usual fail safes of HMV and eBay, but you would struggle to find this in any supermarket!
30 Seconds to Mars were formed in 1998 by Shannon Leto and his brother Jared (some vaguely famous movie star some people may be familiar with) as a family project. They brought in Matt Wachter as a bassist and keyboardist and two guitarists Kevin Drake and Solon Bixler. After some member shuffling, Drake and Bixler left due to touring conflicts and Wachter left to join Angels & Airwaves in 2007 so the current line up is Jared and Shannon Leto and guitarist Tomo Miličević.
Most people that are familiar with 30 Seconds to Mars will know they were propelled to stardom with their single "The Kill" from their platinum selling 2005 album Beautiful Lie. They have picked up a collection of awards since Beautiful Lie was released including Best Single for The Kill, Best Single for From Yesterday and Best International Band at the Kerrang! Awards.
With a commercially appealing melodic Emo / hard rock style it is easy to see why 30 Seconds to Mars have hit the big time and their success is even more impressive considering Jared Leto refused to use his Hollywood fame to promote the band in anyway. But as so often with these bands that have had to wait many years to gain major success their earlier albums are often forgotten.
With 30 Seconds to Mars this forgotten album comes in the form of their first self-titled release way back in 2002 which only sold 100,000 copies.
30 Seconds to Mars' self titled first studio album was produced by Bob Ezrin who has worked with such bands as Alice Cooper and Pink Floyd. As big family projects go, this one certainly had above average results!
This album is definitely 30 Second to Mars in a much rawer form than found in the more polished album Beautiful Lie. There is a much heavier vibe running through the album and there also seems to be cosmic and spiritual themes woven into the album which gives it a fascinatingly cohesive feel.
Despite not having the most radio friendly tunes (which I always feel makes for a better album, albeit maybe not as successful an album), the band's potential was obvious from this early album, with great guitar based melodies, captivating lyrics and the fabulously growling rock voice of Jared Leto.
1. Capricorn (A Brand New Name)
This was their first ever single released and charted at #31 on the US Mainstream Rock chart (the only song to chart off this album). It is a great opening to the album with heavy guitar undertones and a slow building tempo. The lyrics portray a struggle which is enhanced by the passion and anger Jared Leto is able to inject into his voice.
2. Edge of the Earth
This was the only other single to be released but failed to chart. This second song is in a similar vein as the first but has a much more obvious melody and slightly faster tempo. Leto's vocals are again in full swing, ebbing and flowing as the song demands it as he is able to change from controlled restraint to explosive with ease. The lyrics are of taking risks and pushing for a new future and the style of the song create the feel of steely determination.
Another heavy guitar based tune with a slow building intro which flows into an explosive chorus with Leto's vocals shifting effortlessly from chilling to angry as the song undulates. The lyrics are again of human struggle and the weakness of human nature with the first hint of allegoric references to the cosmic theme of the album. This is one of the heaviest and most intense songs on the album.
This is one of my favourite songs on the album. This is probably one of the mellowest songs and Leto softens his voice from his normal growling tones to a smooth and emotional quality which makes it a beautiful song. The melody of the song and the lyrics are of a slightly more despairing nature:
Under the burning sun
I take a look around
Imagine if this all came down
I'm waiting for the day to come
5. Buddha for Mary
This is a very abstract and slightly bizarre song, but it brings in a spiritual element to enhance the general cosmic theme running throughout. It has some very heavy guitar riffs and fascinating lyrics and once again Leto returns to his growling, angry tones to really intensify the song. This song probably has the most variation out of any song on this album with slow, almost futuristic passages rolling into dark and unsettling ones to passionate angry ones.
We return to another mellow ballad after the intensity of the last song and back to the softer tones that Leto is capable of. This is the first truly haunting song on the album and with some intriguing lyrics and a very catchy chorus this is an excellent addition to what is already a varied and captivating album.
7. Welcome to the Universe
This song brings back a darker and more intense atmosphere to the album. With heavy riffs contrasted against a slightly haunting melody and with Leto offering a darker edge to his voice this is a fairly emotive song. But at only 2mins 40 long it is a very short song and perhaps has a little less substance than the rest of the album and maybe acts as a short interlude simply delivering the message of the album before kicking off with the rest of the songs.
8. The Mission
Continuing with the style of the album this is another ebbing and flowing kind of song. It errs on the dark side but in a more restrained fashion than that of Welcome to the Universe and delivers hints of passion in the chorus but without actually ever overflowing. Again the lyrics are intriguing if a little abstract and Leto's growling vocals are synchronised with the music as with all the other songs to really enhance the overall quality.
9. End of the Beginning
The style of the album is very much maintained here, with again a dark and angry yet still restrained vibe being radiated before hitting a very catchy chorus with this style ebbing and flowing through the whole song. Once again Leto's vocals are intense and unrelenting and match the song perfectly.
10. 93 Million Miles
After a couple of intense songs we returned to a slightly more chilled song, but still with dark undertones. The melody is much more obvious in this song and again we are hit with a more spiritual vibe through the lyrics. Overall this song again is restrained with the chorus simmering at best and this song begins to wind the album down very effectively.
11. Year Zero
This song continues to wind the album down much in the same vein as 93 Million Miles. It is a very fitting song as very much like the album it builds to a crescendo before gently fading out, even though very contradictorily the final words are "We'll never fade away". It is probably one of the more forgettable songs on the album, but it does lead to an unexpectedly hidden track called The Struggle.
The Struggle is a short extract with a haunting and understated tune accompanied by a distorted, futuristic voice reciting a poetic depiction of a military struggle which is an insightful addition to the album.
In my opinion 30 Seconds to Mars' self-titled album deserves a lot more recognition than it has received. Whilst maybe not as commercially viable as their platinum selling Beautiful Lie album it showcases their talent with some great melodies and guitar riffs, fascinating lyrics and the incredible metal voice that Jared Leto possesses.
If you are a fan of them you will definitely love this album as it is still them just in their rawer form, plus they have a similar feel to them of such bands as the Lostprophets and Madina Lake so if these kinds of bands appeal you should definitely give this album a shot!
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Capricorn (A Brand New Name)
2 Edge Of The Earth
4 Buddha For Mary
6 Welcome To The Universe
8 End Of The Beginning
9 93 Million Miles
10 Year Zero
12 Behind The Scenes Footage