30 Seconds to Mars, "This Is War"

60 Billboard Rating

When 30 Seconds to Mars frontman Jared Leto wants to go epic, he doesn't go halfway. In nearly every song on the band's third album, "This Is War," Leto enlists the services of a backing choir (some of the vocals were provided by fans, recorded at a series of so-called summits held around the world), while others came from a group of Tibetan monks. Produced for the most part by U2 collaborator Flood, the new album rarely operates at anything less than a frenzied fever pitch, with thundering percussion grooves ("Vox Populi"), Leto's top-of-the-lungs yowl ("Search and Destroy") and wave after wave of Edge-style guitar theatrics ("Kings and Queens"). A widely reported collaboration with Kanye West ("Hurricane") didn't make the album-Leto has blamed label issues-but perhaps that was for the best. It's not easy to imagine where the rapper would have found room to fit here.-Mikael Wood