For all that Los Angeles has a reputation for being a bastion of mainstream conformity, it's also always had a darker side. Over the years L.A. has produced groundbreaking alternative bands like Jane's Addiction or X. Mary Magdalan is the latest band to chronicle the seedy underbelly of the city. Mary Magdalan is a female singer backed by co-writer Gzus H. and other musicians and this is their first release (being sold through their My Space page).
Mary is the daughter of 2 heroin addicts and was herself a drug addict for many years before getting clean and finding solace in music. And Pity Girl does undoubtedly reflect that experience with all its attendant anger and fucked-up sadness. I often have trouble marrying up celebrity drug addicts with the music they produce as it simply doesn't seem to be an accurate reflection of their life and feelings. However, Mary and her band have done an excellent job in capturing the intense emotional experience of drug addiction. She has an amazingly strong voice, screaming with raw emotion and raging against her situation. Sometimes her vocal delivery is so fast and accurate that it has more of a rap influence. But she is always backed by some really strong metal --- furious drumming and powerful guitar riffs that create an almost overwhelming wall of sound. They've also managed to produce some really catchy songs in the likes of Rehab and I Should Kill You.
The more I've listened to this CD the more I've come to love it as I've picked up on Mary's clever, heartfelt lyrics and the subtle variations in the playing and vocal performances. The album rages on at 100 miles an hour, screaming in your face before slowing down at the end. It is one of these songs at the end, Debbie (written about Mary's late mother) that proves to be an emotional tour de force as Mary articulates the rage and pain that highlight the true human cost of drug addiction and also showcases a more blues-influenced tinge to her raw emotional singing style. I thought it was a great song.
Mary Magdalan has already built up a worldwide fanbase through their strong internet presence and I'm sure their fans won't be disappointed by this debut CD from the singer who's already been dubbed The Angel of Metal. Admittedly like a lot of other CDs I've reviewed in this issue it probably won't appeal to everyone but I can certainly imagine them building up a devoted cult following and I'll be interested to see how they follow up an album like this.
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN MAY 2008.