In this day and age, it’s rare to be taken by surprise by a release, but that’s exactly what’s happened with the debut album from ‘supergroup’ 3rd Secret. The band is composed of ex-Soundgarden guitarist Kim Thayil, Soundgarden/Pearl Jam drummer Matt Cameron, former Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic, along with the slightly less well known vocalists Jillian Raye and Jennifer Johnson, both of whom played with Novoselic in Giants In The Trees.
The album is a curious beast as it’s split between heavy rockers and the band’s folkier side. It opens with the pastoral, laid back Rhythm of the Ride which is about as far away from Soundgarden as you can get, with Raye’s vocals backed up ably by Novoselic’s guitar strumming. A complete change follows, with the gloriously lumbering rocker I Choose Me, which features terrific guitar riffs from Thayil and Cameron’s pounding drums, the likes of which haven’t been heard since the demise of their band. The heavy prog-folk of Last Day of August could even have appeared towards the end of Superunknown.
However, the momentum of the album is broken by the slower folkier tracks which are fine but sound like they belong on a different album. Winter Solstice and Dead Sea see the band indulge in floaty folk, with light touches of synth here and there. On the other hand, Right Stuff, which features Krist Novoselic on accordion of all things, is way too jaunty. When the band rocks a bit more they really deliver on songs like Lies Fade Away, Diamond In The Cold and the anthemic Live WIthout You, though at times you do find yourself wondering how they’d sound if the late Chris Cornell had a go at them. They combine both folk and rock tendencies on moody closer The Yellow Dress, an ambitious track that sounds a little too complex and overblown for its own good.
There’s something of Them Crooked Vultures about this. The best moments are when the band let loose and ‘rock out’. They deliver classic melodies which haven’t been seen this side of the early nineties. But somehow it adds up to slightly less than the sum of the parts. The curious among you are directed to their Bandcamp page.
I Choose Me