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Tearing flesh and bleeding emotions - this CD is razor sharp.

CD Review: 30 Seconds to Mars – A Beautiful Lie

Authentic hard rock has always been about bleeding emotions and music so sharp and heavy it can tear flesh. This might not be what you would expect from a band that is fronted by an actor, but it is exactly what 30 Seconds To Mars delivers in A Beautiful Lie. The music is razor-sharp and solid, everything that good old-fashioned hard rock is suppose to be, but with a polished edge that is refreshing and modern.

The band is headed up by Jared Leto, also known for his roles in such critically acclaimed films as Requiem For Dream, Panic Room, Alexander and most recently Lord of War with Nicholas Cage. On Leto’s dual roles, MTV.com said,

He is not the first actor to launch a career in rock and roll, but somehow he’s managed to be the only one audience don’t laugh off the stage … 30 Seconds to Mars has earned itself some bona fide rock cred over the course of its brief career.

I couldn’t agree more. Leto must draw from the same deep introspective place he goes to for his dark roles to write his music. The lyrics are passionate and the music is raw energy.

Aware of the preconceptions held toward acting musicians, Leto said, “Any time you have precedent that’s negative like that, you’re gonna have an uphill battle. I’ve never shied away from that.” He doesn’t offer any apologizes, and he shouldn’t. The commitment and talent he brings to the music can’t be denied and is just as credible as what he brings to his acting. Not only the does he write all the songs the group records, he is lead vocalist and plays guitar. Jared’s brother, Shannon Leto, plays drums, and they are joined in 30 Seconds to Mars by Tomo Milicevic, also on guitars, and Matt Wachter on bass.

The CD opens with what was the first single, “Attack.” The opening is a digital extravaganza of synthesizers which gives way to Leto’s powerful vocals. Though he occasionally moves to the screaming that is ever present in today’s heavy music, he doesn’t cheat on the vocals. For the most part, it is very melodic and his voice is commanding. What he is delivering with that voice is potent as well. The lyrics are intricate and nearly poetic. This song is a driven expression of endings and new beginnings. The deep seated emotions cross both sides of the spectrum, rage filled and mournful.

The second single from A Beautiful Lie is “The Kill.” This begins soft … soft drums, and lyrics tenderly whispered. As it progresses, it fills out with the guitar lines, and it transforms into something loud. The emotions run high through this charged track. It’s another song about a volatile relationship, a theme that is ever present through most of the CD. It is all laid out on the line – powerful and strong guitar and drum lines behind a sturdy lyrical delivery.

“Was It a Dream” is a huge change up. It’s a moody ballad that shows yet another side of the songwriter and the band’s ability to carry the listener somewhere different without breaking with the flow of the CD. The emotional pain is still there, just conveyed in a different style. My favorite lyrics on the whole CD come from this song,

Your defenses were on high
Your walls built deep inside
Yeah I’m a selfish bastard
But at least I’m not alone

It is the core message of the theme to A Beautiful Lie that looks at the demons of the human spirit; those that exist inside us, and those that plague our relationships. This is a stand-out track on a CD that shines pretty bright as a whole.

Leto continues to show his range on “The Fantasy.” A portion of the lyrics are sung with a throaty and seductive whisper befitting the subject matter. He weaves this in and out with rich, pleading moans that assemble and build until they explode with climax, and then it all abruptly ends … powerful stuff.

A Beautiful Lie was produced by Josh Abraham who won a Grammy for his work on the Velvet Revolver album. He did an amazing job with this one as well. The CD as a whole has a flow that rises and ebbs like the tide. Emotions climb and fall with a natural feel. The changes are not abrupt, and the songs themselves are weaved and intertwined, but not over manipulated. There is still a raw edge to it that is pure rock.

After spending eight months in 2005 opening for such bands as Audioslave, The Used, and My Chemical Romance, 30 Seconds to Mars started out on their own headlining tour. “Forever Night Never Day” began March seventh in Tulsa, Oklahoma. It will run through May and carry them through 44 cities. Below is a list of dates for the rest of this month. A complete list of dates can be found on the artist’s website.

30 Seconds to Mars is a Blogcritics Featured Artist. Look for upcoming coverage in the next month.

Tour Dates for March
March 16 – Ft. Lauderdale – Culture Room
March 17 – Orlando – House Of Blues
March 18 – Atlanta – Masquerade
March 19 – Norfolk – Norva
March 24 – New York – Avalon
March 25 – Washington DC – American University
March 26 – Buffalo – Town Hall
March 28 – Pittsburg – Mr. Small’s
March 29 – Cleveland – House of Blues
March 30 – Toronto – Opera House
March 31 – Toledo – Headliner’s

Our coverage of 30 Seconds to Mars continues:

Featured Artist: 30 Seconds to Mars looks at the history of the band and their two CDs.

Concert Review: 30 Seconds to Mars looks at the band’s March 31 appearance at Headliners in Toledo OH.

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