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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