Heavy on special effects and Hollywood heroes, but light on actual substance and imagination, Thirty Seconds to Mars’ This Is War sounds like the soundtrack to a summer action-movie dud. The leading man is Jared Leto (better known for his TV and movie roles in My So-Called Life and Fight Club), who pilots this sonic space cruiser. The band’s third album is their modern rock opera, retrofitted with ultra-sleek electro production by alt-rock wizards Flood and Steve Lillywhite. Using laser-fitted guitars, symphonic violins, Auto-Tuned vocals, and lots of children’s choirs, Thirty Seconds to Mars make a futuristic concept album about battling the hardships of fame. “To the right, to the left, we will fight to the death, to the edge of the earth/It’s a brave new world, from the last to the first,” Leto howls on the title track. The result is 12 big-budget snoozers with names like “100 Suns,” “Search and Destroy,” “Stranger in a Strange Land,” and “L490.” It sounds like U2 and My Chemical Romance — if those bands scored shitty Syfy channel movies about hipsters whose vacuous music turned kids into CD-buying zombies. Maybe their live show will tie it all together (a big stage production with jetpacks, guitar sabers, and Scientology booths, perhaps?). But more likely the band’s clichéd radio rock will fizzle into the atmosphere, crashing back to earth without the safety net of studio trickery. Thirty Seconds to Mars, with Neon Trees and New Politics, play House of Blues at 8 p.m. Tickets: $29, $26.50 in advance. —Keith Gribbins
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