red lights


No curtain call for Act II

30 Seconds To Mars - A Beautiful Lie
(Virgin Records)
2 stars (out of 5 stars)
Reviewed: Oct. 4, 2005
30 Seconds To Mars

Review by Tony Bonyata

It's never been easy for an established actor to make it in the world of rock. Just ask Bruce Willis, Eddie Murphy, Russell Crowe or, God forbid, William Shatner - actors who're all still smarting from their embarrassing forays into a field which they never belonged.
So when actor Jared Leto (Fight Club and Requiem For A Dream) formed his own rock band, 30 Seconds To Mars, no one really ever expected much. But, surprisingly, when they released their self-titled debut in 2002, critic and fan alike embraced their spacey blend of prog-rock and alternative-metal.
Now Leto, along with his three other compatriots - brother and drummer Shannon Leto, bassist Matt Wachter and new guitarist Tomo Milicevic, have released their follow-up A Beautiful Lie, which, despite its more direct and mature approach, fails to light the fire they seem so desperate to ignite. Oh sure, there are some explosive moments here, such as the opening track and first single "Attack," which features Leto braying over bold guitars and broad keyboards, as well as the number "Savior," which, with its more lush production, would've made a better bedfellow with their former effort. But, unfortunately, with too many songs that find the singer throwing out the overused emo-rock trump-card of soft-spoken, heartfelt whispers erupting into jugular-popping aggro-screams, the actor-turned-frontman would've been better off leaving some of this baggage back in his drama class locker.
Produced by Josh Abraham (Velvet Revolver) the overall sound of A Beautiful Lie may be tauter and more immediate than its predecessor, but, along with Leto's latent-thespian vocal tendencies, the arrangements smack of forced emotions, while, at the same time, trying to tug at the heartstrings harder than a Lifetime For Women feature film.
Actually two of the album's more intriguing songs were originally only issued as bonus "hidden" tracks on the first Œspecial edition' pressing of this CD. "Battle Of One" conjures up the dark apocalyptic mayhem of Nine Inch Nails, while the quartet manages to one-up that track with an absinthe-soaked techno rendering of Bjork's "Hunter." Unfortunately, however, without these two important supporting actors to prop up the rest of cast on later pressings, this is a ten act play that doesn't demand a curtain call.

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