We’re all going to die sometime. My condolences, but it’s something of an inevitability. It’s likely to be some sort of horribly introspective event, or we’ll be otherwise too busy to properly reflect on it in the moment. The Burning Hell have pre-empted just such a possibility by providing us with their newest album, ‘Revival Beach’, or as we like to think of it, ‘Songs of the Coming Apocalypse’. At least they make it sound fun.
The Burning Hell have never been slouchers as storytellers. You could publish their songs as prose and they’d still be fascinating. Best delivered as a bedtime story, if you don’t mind late night tales of the end of the world. With the music, it’s a little odd to find yourself tapping your toes as the world falls apart, but let’s be honest, is that all that different from the rest of your life?
“I was thinking a lot about the apocalypse —or rather, different kinds of apocalypse,” say Mathias Kom, singer and lyricist for The Burning Hell. “And nearly all the songs are about some version of the end of the world, whether it’s nuclear war, climate change or police brutality and fascism—but with some good times thrown in there as well.”
Arguably, they’re just keeping up with current events and the trending disasters that, while horrific, seem commonplace. Our entertainment sources are creating increasingly fantastical and dramatized versions of these events. We’ve all become disaster junkies. It creates the idea of the end of the world becoming an anarchical paradise where you don’t have to worry about your 9 to 5, taxes, or social media. Living becomes your only concern. It’s the same reason fear mongering works for Trump’s voter-base: it’s not just “a return to the good ol’ days,” it’s a matter of escaping the crushing force of modern responsibilities. Admittedly, it’s not without its appeal.
“We’re obsessed with the apocalypse these days. Which is wholly appropriate given what we’ve been up to as a species, but still: kind of weird that we love watching TV shows about a zombie apocalypse (whether Walking dead or GoT) but we can’t seem to do anything to prevent our own current zombification.
In any case, it’s hard to argue that we have a death wish as a species. I felt like I wanted to write at least one record about our self destruction before we actually self destruct.”
Instrumentally, the album is expansive. Inclusive. Worldly. They are not a band who limit themselves, and touring seems to have only expanded The Burning Hell’s auditory arsenal. The album opens with the more traditional ‘Friend Army’, a catchy tune that employs a logical fallacy to convince you that the army is the life you’ve longed for. Then it takes a twist and we explore the bass-clarinet world of the instrumental ‘Revival Beach’ overture, featuring what sounds like that Terpsichorean muse: the bouzouki. In ‘Canadian Wine’ we’re greeted with a hurdy gurdy and the tale of doom at the hands of Canadian wine, or perhaps a ceiling collapse, or very likely a furious bride.
“I think People and Public Library are actually the weird ones in that they sound so similar but I’ve always tried to mix it up from one record to the next. It keeps it fun for us!”
We face down George Zimmermans, melting icecaps, Nazi rallying points or whatever other disaster that article your high school friend is telling you is being caused by the super moon, and the reason for saying to heck with it all: internet trolls. But at the end of the world we’ll have lutes, and tambourines, and laughter.