The Burning Hell

It’s rare to find a band that surprises, excites, makes you think, gets you dancing, and causes unstoppable fits of laughter. The Burning Hell does all of these and then some. Lead singer/songwriter Mathias Kom may say that his band is dorky but I would have to disagree. The Burning Hell are the coolest kids around.

To try to describe the nature of The Burning Hell’s sound would be unjust. You will have to trust me and give them a listen. But to describe their intellectual and darkly humoristic lyrics, I hunted down Mathias Kom to ask him about his songwriting.

At the very outset Mathias made it clear to me was that his music has only three themes: death, things, and conferences. The first two of these shouldn’t come as a surprise; they are themes found in just about every artist’s music. But conferences? In truth, until relatively recently, Mathias taught history. As such, he is very interested in conferences (what historian wouldn’t be?); not only in how they produce important historical decisions, but more especially in the social anthropology occurring in the backrooms and behind the official text. Mathias told me that, “it is impossible for a conference to be anything but exciting and dynamic.” And he means it. If you ever have the pleasure of seeing them perform live you will question your life and wonder why you don’t attend more conferences. Here, about the Berlin Conference of 1884-85, from Baby released March 17, is ‘The Berlin Conference’.

The Burning Hell – The Berlin Conference

Mathias’ other major interest is death; talking about death, deconstructing it and proving that death is not necessarily an end. In our conversation he told me that he sees death as being a product of North American culture; that our obsession with health and fitness and living our lives stems more so from our fear of death than our embracing of life. Honestly, I find many of the Burning Hell’s songs on the subject pretty macabre, but to give you a taste here is ‘Dance, Dance, Dance’ from their album Tick Tock.

The Burning Hell – Dance Dance Dance

Finally, we talked about the band as a whole. What struck me most about seeing the Burning Hell play was how cohesive and unified the band was despite being a group of totally unique people. I got the impression that these people had pretty different lives from one another, but for now they were there united by friendship, music, and some intellectual ideal that they all shared. It was pretty cool to see. According to Mathias they are a very close group that despite their difference are really good friends who all love and respect each other. He said with great earnestness that he “could never imagine playing with anyone else.” And with that we have, from Baby, ‘The Things That People Make, Part 2’.

The Burning Hell – The Things That People Make, Part 2

One thing that Mathias said in the context of leaving teaching become a musician is that “there’s other ways to be a dork.” I like that. A lot. And also this track from Tick Tock: ‘It Happens in Florida’.

The Burning Hell – It Happens in Florida

The band has just kicked off their release tour for Baby, probably their best album so far. If they are in your area, I highly suggest you check them out. You won’t be disappointed.


— , April 13, 2009    3 Comments

Really enjoying the first track, the info on the lyrics you got from Mathias really makes me appreciate the songs more. Thanks Megan.

— Daniel, April 13, 2009

The Burning Hell sounds fantastic, they’re really a joy to listen to; now if you don’t mind I’ll be searching for a conference of some sort.

— Jan, April 15, 2009

These guys are fun to listen to, yet I had never heard up them until you pointed them out. Thanks Megan.

Jeff, April 21, 2009