Hell ain't a bad place to be
A Comedy of Horrors - Burn in Hell (Beast Becords)
“It’s rock and roll, Jim, but not as we know it.”
That might make sense if you’re a Trekkie, but of course you’re not.
(ED: Sorry. Robert Brokenmouth has hacked this review. Normal transmission will be resumed, momentarily.)
Burn in Hell is from Melbourne and is as rock and roll as AC/DC. Makes sense. The band comes from the home of AC/DC Lane, for fucksakes. They just play their songs as readily in waltz time as in 4/4. “A Comedy of Horrors” is their fourth album in close to 10 years and it’s off-the-wall, curious, warped, challenging and thoroughly enjoyable. It's an album for people who hate the mundane.
Burn in Hell is a core trio of Gary Hallenan (vocals, piano, organ - and an ace photographer), Evan Richards (vocals, drums - also of Tim Rogers' Draught Dodgers) and Glenn Burns (vocals, guitar, kazoo) - plus friends. On “A Comedy…” they are: Stacey Pommer (mandolin, , bass, guitar and didge - Vice Grip Pussies), Dimi Dero (violin, drill, electric saw, percussion and something called a metal phone - Dimi Dero Inc), Hamish Marr (bass, guitar and keys) and Billy Pommer Jr (backing vocals - The Johnnys.)
If you think that such a range of instrumentation reeks of almost anything goes, musically speaking, you’d be correct. Burn in Hell sound like they were raised in a Central European village nestled in a dark mountain valley with a very shallow gene pool, where intensive inbreeding, home-schooling and excessive exposure to polka songs has done something strange to their collective musical DNA.
No wonder the French love them. They also think cheese should smell like an armpit.
If you’re looking for a comparator, think of Swiss folk-gypsy-blues exponents The Dead Brothers. That’ll inevitably beg the question about why Burn In Hell aren’t on Voodoo Rhythm (and the answer will be: “Because they’re on Beast Records.”)
Cmon. Take a dive into the album. Three songs should be enough to convince you. At the risk of this being a spoiler, there's even a Bandcamp link at the bottom of the review where you can listen for yourself. “Spanish Banana” cranks up like the Cramps’ “Drug Train”, leaks a burst of sustain guitar and heads on up the highway to Destination Weird. Slinky piano competes for space with Glenn Burns’ knowing vocal. These guys have swigged long and hard on the kalimotxo.
Piano again waves through the the Gary Hallenan-penned “The Tale of The Broken Bones”, a wordy trip through parts unknown. “Axe Weilders Waltz” is exactly what the label says. Dimo Dero and Stacey Pommer add off-beat instrumentation. If you haven’t twigged in the space of just three songs that Burn in Hell are unique among their peers, you’re not listening.
Want more? There’s enough menace in the swing and organ surge of the skulking “Soft Machine” to give the early Bad Seeds a run for their money. “The Creeping Machine That Ate Itself” is a psychological case study in itself. The guitars shout: “unhealthy” as much as Hallenan’s disturbed vocal.
“False Memories” is a song responsible for the memorable lyric:
The Wizard of Oz is the wizard because
He’s got all our drugs shoved up his snoz
Some people are into clowns. Others become giddy at the sight of a nurse outfit. These lads have a pirate fetish and the sparse “Salty Sea Spirits” attests to what lies beneath. When Johnny Depp makes yet another half-baked re-make of that movie where he rips off Keef Richards, this is the song they'll synch to the soundtrack. Burn in Hell hope so. The will then relocate to the Bahamas.
“Insatiable” is the closest thing to a recognisable rocker and that’s a term used with reservation, lest you're misled into thinking Burn in Hell are AC/DC. Scuzz guitar and rolling piano clings to a churning rhythm with didgeridoo resonating in the background. It’s as good a place as any to end the record - and this review - and give the album another spin. Except you’d miss “Wasn’t Me”, the longest (at seven minutes) and oddest tune yet.
You may burn in hell yourself if you don't click the link below and investigate.