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Atlanta’s Mary My Hope: ‘Optimistic Nihilism’

Band: Mary My Hope Personnel: Clinton Steele, guitar; James Hall, vocals, guitar; Sven Pipien, bass; Steven Lindenbaum, drums.

History: Steele hooked up with German-born Pipien in Atlanta two years ago. After dropping out of college to concentrate on music, the duo recruited Hall and found Lindenbaum through an ad begging release from heavy-metal monotony. Taking its name from a religious tract, Mary My Hope made a distinctive mark in the Atlanta scene, eventually drawing the attention of Andrew Lauder, the former head of England’s Demon Records (who originally signed Elvis Costello). Lauder signed the group to his new, RCA-distributed Silvertone label. M.M.H. recorded its debut album, “Museum,” in Wales with producer Hugh Jones (Echo & the Bunnymen). The band recently toured America with Jane’s Addiction.

Sound: Taking the stairway to arena rock heaven, Mary My Hope is a true acolyte of rock mythology; its more thundering moments reveal the fall-out of devotional hours spent listening to the Doors, Led Zeppelin, the Beatles, AC/DC, David Bowie, Pink Floyd and even INXS. These might be diverse-style icons, but Mary My Hope has no problem with stylistic purity. Though capable of blistering , straight - ahead rockers (“Hourglass”), the group has a predilection toward epic drama-songs such as the band’s signature, “Suicide King,” which rises from a plaintive acoustic opening to a sonic meltdown , complete with crashing walls of chords and Hall’s Robert Plant-like wailing. Thematically the group runs the gamut of what Steele describes as “optimistic nihilism,” with lots of crypto-mystical musings about spiritual salvation and death. Still young and naive enough (the oldest band member is 23) to trim the fat off dinosaur art-rock leftovers, Mary My Hope stands poised between metallic rapture and an unholy mess.

Shows: Monday, the Palace (with the Godfathers).

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