96-98 Pentonville Road, N1 9JB
£12 adv. (STBF)
Doors - 7:30pm
Sun 30 June 2019
In 2007, Mathias Kom collected some of his many songs and started a band, named after a religious tract handed to him by a wide-eyed zealot in Toronto. Mathias subsequently invited all of his friends to join him in performing these songs about seagulls, shopping malls, and the similarities between love and hurricanes. Ballooning to touring parties of a dozen musicians, and local gigs where the band spilled onto the dance floor and the dance floor spilled onto the stage, the Burning Hell released three records in quick succession: Tick Tock (2007), Happy Birthday (2008), and Baby (2009).
By 2010 members of this early iteration of the band were hanging up their banjoleles, omnichords, and accordions to pursue solo careers, businesses and parenthood, and Mathias relocated to St. John’s,
the essence of the band is inclusive and celebratory; whether on stage or on record, there’s something for everyone. As Tom Robinson of BBC Introducing said about The Burning Hell, “even Jesus is going to enjoy this, once he finally gets here.”
Newfoundland. There, the band was reborn with brass, sax, and violin for 2011’s Flux Capacitor, a record about nostalgia, potential failures and regrets, and possible futures, including Kom’s autobiographical manifesto, “My Name is Mathias.” The Burning Hell began embarking on exhaustive tours of Europe, where the band name was finally more help than hindrance as they were enthusiastically booked into the metal clubs of Latvia and Lithuania.
A five-piece lineup had emerged by 2012 to record People in Berlin, Germany. A hooky, wordy, joyous indie-rock record, People was released the following year, receiving critical accolades from the mainstream music press, and spinning in frequent rotation on BBC 6 Music. The band followed up in 2016 with Public Library, where Mathias leaned into his preternatural ability with language to craft distorted storytelling epics, with dazzlingly speedy wordplay and wild and rollicking guitars. Tales of killer priests tracking down escaping lovers and misunderstood celebrities jetting into space rub elbows with the story of Kom’s first visit to the record store and a true story of a tour van breakdown in Yorkshire.
Throughout this period, Kom and his partner and collaborator, multi-instrumentalist Ariel Sharratt, began embarking on occasional duo tours, producing an album of duets in 2015 titled Don’t Believe the Hyperreal. This record marked the first appearance of “Fuck the Government, I Love You”, a story of a couple meeting at a New Year’s party featuring a wildly popular and cathartic singalong chorus. In 2017, with a new three-piece lineup, The Burning Hell released the garage-folk Revival Beach, which finds Mathias investigating the coming apocalypse.
Over a varied musical career, The Burning Hell have often remained idiosyncratic and unclassifiable, much to the delight of those who love them. Although musical style and influence differs from record to record, and song to song, the constant has always remained Kom’s singular outlook on the world: wise and naive, cynical and life-affirming, full of brilliant, unexpected narratives and a deeply felt generosity of spirit. The band’s live performances underscore these themes: they exhibit a joy and camaraderie too infrequently seen on stage. Indeed, the essence of the band is inclusive and celebratory; whether on stage or on record, there’s something for everyone. As Tom Robinson of BBC Introducing said about The Burning Hell, “even Jesus is going to enjoy this, once he finally gets here.”