3rd Rail has been around for about 10 years and, according to their MySpace page, were named Á¢€Å“Best Unsigned Band in CaliforniaÁ¢€ at the California Music Awards. Having been in the music business for over a decade has advantages and disadvantages; for 3rd Rail, the obvious disadvantage is not having a record deal and the support of a major label to get their music heard by a larger audience, and the advantage — while not paying dividends in a monetary sense — is having reached a level of accomplishment in terms of musicianship. In 3rd RailÁ¢€â„¢s style of music (a mix of metal and hard rock), itÁ¢€â„¢s tempting for bands to be louder, harder, and faster. However, while 3rd Rail is certainly loud and has a hard edge, they play as a band but donÁ¢€â„¢t overplay their instruments in order to dazzle listeners with fast and furious chops. DonÁ¢€â„¢t get me wrong, though — these guys certainly have the chops, and youÁ¢€â„¢ll quickly discover how good they are on their new CD, Between Eleven.
Mark MrdezaÁ¢€â„¢s vocals often alternate between a metal scream and actual singing throughout the album, but itÁ¢€â„¢s the rhythm section of Jorge DeBasso (bass) and Breen Reichick (drums) that adds an impressively thick and heavy underbelly to their songs. DeBasso and Reichick certainly pepper the tunes with tasty doses of spice where needed, and guitarists Mullin and Ed May add both crunchy and atmospheric textures that elevate the band’s sound in powerful ways. 3rd Rail’s style is reminiscent of Deftones on Á¢€Å“And I You,Á¢€ but the standout track on the album (for me, at least) is Á¢€Å“Roses & ChampagneÁ¢€ — which has some nicely layered vocals that adds an effective growl to MrdezaÁ¢€â„¢s more melodic voice.
What impresses me most about 3rd Rail is their maturity and a level of playing that creates the right amount of space to really hear the songs. For a band with this kind of talent, itÁ¢€â„¢s just astonishing that they donÁ¢€â„¢t have a record deal … yet. My sense is their Á¢€Å“unsignedÁ¢€ status will quickly change as more and more people get to know this Bay Area powerhouse. Samples of their music are available on their MySpace page, and of course right here, but you can download Between Eleven at the iTunes store.