The Hail Marys

Faith, Forgiveness, Sweet Revenge (Self-released)

Hail Marys lead singer Katie Gates claims that her instrument is her throat (rather than voice), and while it's a fair assessment of her singing style, there is much more than mere growling on her band's full-length debut, Faith, Forgiveness, Sweet Revenge. Her songs are guttural and raw but never tuneless, performed in a style that owes as much to Rancid's Lars Frederiksen as it does to Joan Jett. The rest of the Hail Marys play aggressive punk with noticeable traces of pop — the sheer speed of these songs makes subtlety an impossibility, but the record is littered with tossed-off solos, bass guitar runs and sing-song background vocals. With 12 songs and total run--time of 28 minutes, the Hail Marys pack a lot into a brief program. With its melodic guitar lead, "Combative" could have been lifted from a Blackhearts record, and the drunken lullaby of "I'll Be Okay" recalls the whiskey-fueled sing-alongs of Flogging Molly. Gates' voice shimmers seductively on "Simple Ways," adding some little rockabilly reverberations before kicking down the door with a full-throated howl.

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