Sunday, February 28, 2010

30 Seconds To Mars - This Is War

I can not stop listening to this amazing album. I haven't heard anything so good since OK Computer.

Radiohead's pinnacle of success has often been described as the best album of last century, and whilst "This Is War" is simply outstanding, there's a lot of century to go before we can make any claims similar to those surrounding OK Computer.

Yet it is also curious that 30 Seconds To Mars' latest release, put out in December '09, sounds distinctively like the beginning of something, like the beginning of a great era in music. This is 2010. This is now. The first decade of the millennium was plagued by a horrible President of USA, by the biggest recession since the great depression, and the foundations of the music world were utterly smashed by the arrival of the MP3 and file sharing. "This Is War" stands tall and proud as an epic statement to the world. As the title suggests, it's declaring something.

For me, part of the very first generation to grow up with the net, the album defiantly declares war on the past, and embraces the future. The lyric "The war is won, lift your hands toward the sun" off the title track sends shivers down the spine as a military-style snare rattle builds up to an epic take-off. I almost burst out crying everytime the outstanding vocals on the second track, Night of the Hunter, yearn "Pray to your god, open your heart, whatever you do don't be afraid of the dark". And as each song progresses the lyrics just keep tugging at those heartstrings: "Tell me would you kill to save a life". This music is Shakespearean in scope, timeless. And although it's not entirely clear on a first listen what 30 Seconds are declaring war on, it unfurls as you dig deeper and deeper like the most poetic of Elizabethan plays. The outstanding "100 Suns" states "I believe in nothing, not in satan not in god, I believe in nothing, but the Truth in who we are". For me this sums up what "The War" is about, it's about a new world order, where religion and belief systems no longer harbour the hearts of most of the civilised world; where people are looking inside themselves for Truth and not being dictated what they should believe anymore. A war on the past, and embracing the future. With the advent of the internet people are moving closer together, old values are replaced by true individuality as accessibility to information allows us to make our minds up for ourselves about the big questions.

The fact that this is a commercial release, under a major label, means nothing. Everyone knows you can get it for free if you want, and I think the lads from 30 Seconds know this too. I can imagine when they finished this album they realised they had made something truly special that would resonate throughout the land and earn them not money, but artistic merit. The recording industry has changed whereby the success of an artist is not determined by how many records it sells but by how many people are Tweeting about them. A new world order. Declare war on the past and embrace the future. It's 2010 everyone! Rejoice! "Darkness floods, here comes the rain, to wash away the past."

I have seen many people slagging this album for departing from "their earlier style", and I have to admit I have no idea what that earlier style is, for this is my introduction to 30 Seconds To Mars, and it's a fuckload of a good one. Get this album, by whatever means. It will change your life.

Dear Noel - Party Fouls / Hope You Get To Heaven Before The Devil Knows You're Dead

Dear Noel are technically proficient and professionally tight, they have a good grasp of songwriting, hooks, and rhythm, and both EPs have top-notch production.

So why does it suck?

Quite simply, these guys are playing in the wrong key. The tonality and action of their guitars are aligned for heavy metal, as is the drumming with its heavy kick drum and outstanding fills. All is aligned for neck-snapping flat-fifths and dark, minor chords. Yet they're playing this major key happy pop stuff. With heavy palm-muted guitars. !? It is just completely incongruous. And ugly, totally ugly, devoid of life or passion, and impossible to like.

The engineer of these albums is the only one with any vision, utilising fantastic production techniques that make these packages radio friendly for sure, but the stations that play this kind of stuff, wellvomitpukeergh oh excuse me.

You get the idea. Guys, if you're reading this: STOP with the happy pop crap and do a complete 180 into the heavy metal you were born to play, even if it means firing your current songwriter, for this incarnation of Dear Noel is a dead end.

I have nothing more to say.

Both EPs "Party Fouls" and "Hope You Get To Heaven Before The Devil Knows You're Dead" are available from Simple Stereo, if you want to listen to some really, really naff music.