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30 Seconds to Mars (album)

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30 Seconds to Mars
A boy with short hair. He wears a white jacket with a print on the left arm. In the top left, the words "30 Seconds to Mars" and four symbols are written in red font, with the "30" in bold.
Studio album by Thirty Seconds to Mars
Released August 27, 2002 (2002-08-27)
Recorded 2001–2002
Length 53:07
Thirty Seconds to Mars chronology
30 Seconds to Mars
A Beautiful Lie
Singles from 30 Seconds to Mars
  1. "Capricorn (A Brand New Name)"
    Released: July 23, 2002
  2. "Edge of the Earth"
    Released: March 3, 2003

30 Seconds to Mars is the debut studio album by American rock band Thirty Seconds to Mars. It was first released on August 27, 2002, by Immortal Records and distributed by Virgin Records. The album was produced by Bob Ezrin, Brian Virtue, and Thirty Seconds to Mars, and was recorded in rural Wyoming during 2001 and early 2002. It had been in the works for a couple of years, with lead vocalist Jared Leto writing the majority of the songs.

30 Seconds to Mars was described as a concept album centering on human struggle and self-determination, characterized by personal lyrics that use otherworldly elements and conceptual ideas to illustrate a truthful personal situation. The album incorporates progressive sounds with influences and elements from new wave, space rock, and electronica. Upon release, 30 Seconds to Mars received mostly positive reviews from music critics, who commended the album's lyrical content and the band's musicianship, which has been compared to the works of Pink Floyd, Tool, and Brian Eno.

The album debuted at number 107 on the Billboard 200 and number one on the US Top Heatseekers. It was a slow-burning success and eventually sold two million copies worldwide. It produced two singles, "Capricorn (A Brand New Name)" and "Edge of the Earth". Thirty Seconds to Mars promoted the album by opening concerts for bands such as Puddle of Mudd, Incubus, Sevendust, and Chevelle.

Background and recording[edit]

Jared Leto wrote most of the lyrics for the album.

By 1998, Thirty Seconds to Mars was performing gigs at small American venues and clubs. During this period, the band recorded demo tracks such as "Valhalla" and "Revolution", or "Jupiter" and "Hero", which later appeared on the debut album as "Fallen" and "Year Zero" respectively, but also "Buddha for Mary".[1] Their work led to a number of record labels being interested in signing Thirty Seconds to Mars, which eventually signed to Immortal Records.[2] In 1999, Virgin Records entered into the contract.[3]

The work of Thirty Seconds to Mars captured the attention of record producer Bob Ezrin, who had previously worked on several groundbreaking projects, including The Wall by Pink Floyd, Love It to Death by Alice Cooper, and Destroyer by Kiss. Thirty Seconds to Mars contacted Ezrin because they felt that he had the ability to help them achieve their own vision. They also cited Pink Floyd, Kiss, and Alice Cooper as major influences.[4] Brian Virtue, who had previously worked with Jane's Addiction, joined the band and Ezrin in producing the record.[5]

Thirty Seconds to Mars retreated to the isolation of Wyoming's countryside in 2001 to record the album, tentatively titled Welcome to the Universe.[6] The band and Ezrin chose an empty warehouse lot on 15,000 acres, starting an intense period of preproduction focused on fifty songs.[5] Ezrin helped the band to understand the importance of an album's structure and how to create a progression, rather than a simple series of singles. "We wanted to make a record that was a collection of songs rather than a collection of singles," Jared Leto explained. "Something that had cohesiveness and kind of an atmospheric musical story to it."[7] Leto described the process of working with Ezrin as tumultuous but also fulfilling, having its own dynamics.[4] He also stated that Virtue was a key element in helping the band define their sound.[8]

The track "Fallen", originally titled "Jupiter", was the first to be produced for the album. Thirty Seconds to Mars initially thought to exclude the track from the record since they were not satisfied with it, but then they decided to rework the song because there were people that had strong feelings about it.[8] The track features programming by Danny Lohner and background vocals by Maynard James Keenan. Several musicians, including Elijah Blue Allman, Renn Hawkey, as well as producers Ezrin and Virtue, contributed on selected tracks.[9]


"Edge of the Earth", the second track on the album, mixes sounds from different genres and styles.

Problems playing this file? See media help.

The album's lyrical content revolves around the personal human experience which is described through metaphors and moments of fantasy, and deals with characters who battle with alienation and paranoia. The title itself 30 Seconds to Mars indicates the accelerated human society and suggests a potential escapism from it.[5] Leto explained, "Everything on this album is about real human experience. That is the single most inspiring source for us, the human struggle. Lyrically, it's a very personal album that sometimes uses otherworldly elements and conceptual ideas to illustrate a truthful personal situation."[8] Author Karin Lowachee noted that Leto, who wrote most of the lyrics, "allows the listener to draw his or her own conclusions to the songs' meanings. This makes the music especially personal, as whatever images you conjure from the sound and words can be interpreted by your own inner language."[10]

According to Jared Leto, "Capricorn (A Brand New Name)", the album's opening track, deals with a desire for renewal.[8] However, he stated that he prefers to let the listener take its own understanding and meaning from the song, claiming that the interpretation, from individual to individual, is one of the most interesting aspects of music. The track "Fallen" faces the need to escape from the inner world that every person has created for itself.[4] The lyrics of "Oblivion", originally entitled "The Reckoning", lead into a frantic threat, in which "Unity divides / Division will unite".[5] Leto described this paradox as a rather common but unfortunate occurrence. A dramatic narration drives "Buddha for Mary", whose story is not about a specific person and represents a metaphor. "End of the Beginning" features a foreboding tone and emphasizes the human nature in constant search for something. The track "Revolution", excluded from the final track listing, was considered by some critics an anti-American song. Leto rejected the claim and explained that it "can be taken many different ways. If it is taken literally or politically it could be misinterpreted. We didn't want a song like that to overshadow what we are about. And considering that people have a tendency to take things very literal we felt that especially after the September 11 it didn't fit thematically with the rest of the record. It took on new dimensions."[8]

The album features several elements inspired by the science fiction novel Dune by Frank Herbert, which influenced the band for its complex themes regarding the multi-layered interactions of politics, religion, ecology, technology, and human emotion.[10] The lyrics of the hidden track "The Struggle" were taken from The Art of War, an ancient Chinese military treatise attributed to Sun Tzu.[11] Thirty Seconds to Mars drew influences from artists such as Pink Floyd, The Cure, Björk, Rush, The Who, and Depeche Mode; according to Shannon Leto, the inspirations derived from "mostly big conceptional bands; bands that had depth; bands that were dynamic."[8][12] The style of the album combined progressive metal and space rock with influences and elements from new wave and electronica, utilizing programming and synthesizers.[13][14]


30 Seconds to Mars was released on August 27, 2002 in the United States.[15] The album's compact disc featured enhanced material developed by Little Lion Studios, including a promotional video titled "Capricorn" directed by Lawton Outlaw and a behind the scenes footage edited by Ari Sandel.[9] The Japanese edition of the album included the bonus track "Anarchy in Tokyo".[16]

The first single from the album, "Capricorn (A Brand New Name)", made its radio debut on July 23, 2002.[17] The song entered the US Mainstream Rock chart at number 40 on the issue dated September 7, 2002. It peaked at number 31 on October 5, remaining eight weeks on the chart.[18] Upon its release, 30 Seconds to Mars entered the Billboard 200 at number 107 and remained four weeks on the chart.[19] It also debuted at number one on the US Top Heatseekers.[20] After nine weeks, it fell to number 40, with sales of over 40,000 units.[21] As of August 2006, Nielsen SoundScan estimates actual sales of the album at over 120,000 in the United States.[22] In France, 30 Seconds to Mars debuted at number 142 on the national albums chart.[23] "Edge of the Earth" was released as the second single from the album on March 3, 2003.[24]

After five years since its original release, 30 Seconds to Mars was released in Australia on April 7, 2007.[25] On the issue dated June 11, 2007, the album entered the ARIA Charts at number 95, eventually peaking at number 89 the following week.[26] It also debuted at number 12 on the Australian Rock Albums Chart. In 2010, the album re-entered the chart after the release of the band's third studio album, This Is War (2009).[27] In the United Kingdom, during the week dated January 19, 2008, 30 Seconds to Mars debuted at number 136 on the UK Albums Chart, in view of the 2008 European leg of the A Beautiful Lie Tour.[28] It also entered the UK Rock Chart at number two. The two singles from the album and the tracks "Fallen", "Buddha for Mary", and "Echelon" entered the top ten of the rock chart at four different positions.[28] On July 22, 2013, the album was certified silver by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI), denoting shipments of over 60,000 units.[29] On December 2, 2009, EMI released a limited edition of the album in Japan.[30] As of March 2011, the album sold over two million copies worldwide.[31] In view of the band's concert in Athens, Greece, on July 6, 2011, the album debuted at number 43 on the Greek Albums Chart and peaked at number 41 the following week.[23]

On August 27, 2012, an event called MarsX was organized to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the album. The event, featured on the online platform VyRT, included live playback and commentary of the record with the band, interactive discussion focused on the formation of Thirty Seconds to Mars, and exclusive acoustic performances.[32] The album was re-issued as a limited edition picture disc double-LP.[33]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Alternative Press 4/5 stars[34]
BBC Music 4/5 stars[35]
Blender favorable[13]
E! Online B[36]
Exclaim! 8/10[37]
The Gazette 4.5/5 stars[38]
Kludge 7/10[39]
Karin Lowachee 4/5 stars[11]
Melodic 4/5 stars[40]
The Phoenix 2/4 stars[41]

Upon its release, 30 Seconds to Mars received mostly positive reviews from music critics.[42] However, at Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album received an average score of 49, based on 4 reviews.[36] Ryan Rayhill from Blender described the album as a "high-minded space opera of epic scope befitting prog-rock prototypes Rush," and felt that the band "emerged with an eponymous debut that sounds like Tool on The Dark Side of the Moon," referring to the 1973 album by Pink Floyd.[13] Writing for BBC Music, Smiley Ben praised the sonic variety and felt that the band "knowingly push[es] boundaries and produce[s] great music with an edge."[35] AllMusic reviewer Jon O'Brien called the record a "highly ambitious space-themed concept album" which is "packed full of heavy, riff-laden guitars, prog metal beats, and Hollywood star Jared Leto's soaring vocals and sci-fi lyrics, making it one of the more convincing actor-turned-rock star efforts."[43] Jaan Uhelszki from Alternative Press described 30 Seconds to Mars as "an ambitious, immense-sounding work that's at once rich in melody and lyrically jarring."[34] Karin Lowachee commended the album's lyrical content and sound, writing that the band "defies the trend by stepping out ahead of it and into the future, giving music fans something original to enjoy."[44] Amber Authier from Exclaim! echoed this sentiment, stating, "they aren't a straight-ahead rock band; they are stretching their musical borders and representing something that is a little different," and described the album as an epic record with conceptual similarities to Queensrÿche and Depeche Mode.[37]

Johan Wippsson from Melodic called it "one of the most unique album when it comes to an own style" and wrote that the band "has something new to add to the world with their space influenced modern rock."[40] Melodic also included 30 Seconds to Mars among the best albums of the year.[45] In a four-and-a-half star review, Megan O'Toole of The Gazette wrote that every track on the record "is a unique masterpiece that simultaneously operates on a number of different musical and spiritual levels," and felt that the band has "managed to carve out a unique niche for themselves in the rock realm."[38] Mitch Joel of Blistering commented that "this electric and electro mix of modern rock has fundamentals that must have made famed producer Bob Ezrin fascinated and Thirty Seconds to Mars is worth more than most of their peers on a song-by-song magnitude."[46] In a mixed review, Kludge magazine summarized the record by writing, "the entire project as a whole is top-heavy, with the strengths of the album crammed tightly into the first five songs."[39] Peter Relic of Rolling Stone stated that the "album is undone by [Jared] Leto's baffling, pretentious poetry and the sanitized quality of the heavy guitars," while Q described it as having "a polished sheen, but Leto's delivery of his earnest, sci-fi-tinged lyrics gets monotonous over the course of the album."[36]


To promote the album, Thirty Seconds to Mars embarked on several tours in North America. Even before its release, Puddle of Mudd invited Thirty Seconds to Mars to open a six-week tour for them in the spring of 2002.[47] On January 30, Thirty Seconds to Mars began a promotional tour in North America. The band played its first European concert on June 24, 2002, at The Barfly in London, England.[48] On July 26, they embarked on a North American tour supporting Incubus and began a club tour the following month.[49] In October, they were invited by MTV to join the Campus Invasion Tour, playing ten dates in Canada alongside I Mother Earth, Billy Talent, and Pepper Sands.[50] The band was also scheduled to open a spring tour for Adema but they were forced to withdraw due to scheduling conflicts.[51]

After playing three shows supporting Our Lady Peace, Thirty Seconds to Mars opened an autumn tour for Sevendust.[52] The band's first appearance on television was on Last Call with Carson Daly on November 18, which aired on November 27, 2002. It was the last performance with guitarist Solon Bixler, which left the band due to issues primarily related to touring.[53] The band later performed on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and The Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn, which marked the first live performance with guitarist Tomo Miličević.[53] In 2003, the band went on tour with Chevelle, Trust Company, and Shihad, and played thirteen shows for Lollapalooza.[54]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written and composed by Jared Leto, except where noted. 

No. Title Length
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"   5:49
7. "Welcome to the Universe"   2:40
8. "The Mission"   4:04
9. "End of the Beginning"   4:39
10. "93 Million Miles"   5:20
11. "Year Zero" (includes the hidden track "The Struggle": Jared Leto, Shannon Leto) 7:52
Total length:

Credits and personnel[edit]

Credits adapted from 30 Seconds to Mars album liner notes.[9]

Charts and certifications[edit]

Release history[edit]

Region Date Format Label
United States[15] August 27, 2002 CD, digital download
Canada[57] September 24, 2002 EMI
Japan[58] September 26, 2002
Netherlands[59] Virgin
Germany[60] September 27, 2002 EMI
United Kingdom[62] September 30, 2002
Australia[25] April 7, 2007 CD, digital download
  • Virgin
  • EMI
New Zealand[63] August 7, 2007
Japan[30] December 2, 2009 CD (limited edition) EMI
United States[33] August 27, 2012 LP (limited edition) Virgin


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  2. ^ LaGambina 2002, p. 20.
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  • Ault, Susanne (November 9, 2002). "Celeb Bands Reach for Stars". Billboard (Nielsen Business Media) 114 (45): 18. 
  • Brannigan, Paul (February 20, 2010). "The Home Front". Kerrang! (Bauer Media Group) (1300): 22–26. 
  • Evans, Mark (March 2011). "Mars Attacks". What's On (Motivate Publishing) (395): 29–30. 
  • LaGambina, Gregg (July 2002). "30 Seconds to Mars". The Album Network (96): 20–22. 
  • Lear, Courtney (August 26, 2006). "Mission to Mars: Blasts Off Again". Billboard (Nielsen Business Media) 118 (34): 34. 
  • Lowachee, Karin (2003). "Rock Gods of War: Space, Symbols, and Synth-Rock Imbue the Metaphoric Musical World of 30 Seconds to Mars". Mars Dust (Mysterian Media). 
  • Poncet, Emilie (October 2002). "Lost in Space". Rock Sound (106): 40–42. 
  • Winwood, Ian (February 18, 2012). "10 Years of Life on Mars". Kerrang! (Bauer Media Group) (1402): 20–23. 

External links[edit]