Beast Records, France (label)
30 October 2011 (released)
09 January 2012
Melbourne outfit Burn In Hell were born kicking and screaming and, judging from the musical offerings on this bizarrely titled album, nothing much has changed since then.
Looking like a hybrid of landlubber pirates or simply a bunch that counts Australian outlaw Ned Kelly amongst the family tree, the band’s repertoire perfectly matches their visual appearance.
Welcome to gloriously warped tunes performed on piano and organ – both instruments sounding like they haven’t been re-tuned in decades. Guitar, bass and banjolele riffs resemble the speedy shovelling sound of body snatchers, demented percussion beats compliment the pandemonium but above all, it’s the voices… Voices that suggest several sheets of sandpapers were dipped in hardcore liquor first, and then devoured. By the way, that’s Glenn Burns, Gary Hallenan and Evan Richards for you folks.
There’s also an additional cast (comprised of lads and lasses), offering their talents on ironing board, saw, keg n bottle, harp and didgeridoo… Now we’re talking!
The album offers a raucous collection of the fierce and the nitty-gritty. Think chaotic Weimar cabaret sounds with its decadent players high on absinth and cocaine, then deported to Down Under. Add some old-fashioned fairground muzak, as well as the obligatory bluesy-folk-rock sound and voila – yer swinging happily from the gallows or the yardarm!
While Side-A opener ‘Not If But When’ has even a bit of skiffle ringing through its manic hand-cranked music box sound, second track ‘Oil Man’ steps several paces down and resembles a Tom Waits-style ballad performed in slow motion.
‘Idiot Ship’ sounds like a whole crew gone mad thanks to being lost and adrift in stormy waters. And of course completely drunk as well – naturally! The song is less of a shanty then more of a lament about a whole ship being doomed, yet still gurgles deadpan lyrics like “What shall we do with the drunken sailor? Who’s drunken of the sea water that took away his breath / What shall we do with the drunken sailor? Who’s sunken in the seawater that swallowed him in death… “ This should have been included in the ‘Rogues Gallery - Pirate Ballads & Sea Songs’ compilation-CD. Really, Nick Cave’s ‘Fire Down Below’ doesn’t come remotely near!
Suitably fast and almost punky runs the ‘Kidnap Express’, though it rolls on a ragged and ruff sounding track. Then again, this could be due to my non-state-of-the-art turntable. Or perhaps it’s meant to sound like that. In which case: raw power!
Closing number ‘Shitkicker Blues’ is one of those sing-along affairs belched up by barflies the world over.
Side-B opens with an instrumental ditty, the poetically titled ‘Dance Of The Dead Gypsy’. Well, I can’t hear much Romani-related anything on this one and I should know a thing or two, after all, I’m a collector of authentic gypsy music. But hey, whatever gets you guys into swivelling dance mode…
The hilarious ‘Grave News From Underground’ is not really by ‘Burn In Hell’ but composed by Ole Nick himself. Only kidding. I won’t scribble much info ‘bout this one – just watch the band’s ‘Grave News’ video on YouTube, though preferably not while you’re tucking into your dinner…
‘Big Blue One’ is ever so slightly jazzy, and dominated by frantic piano – descending into orchestral disorder. Wilder still, ‘Under & Outa Control’ is surely the musical equivalent to freebasing… Like a carousel outa control as opposed to under control. Lengthy instrumental intro, cool and wacky lyrics (“I saw you walking with one Ugg boot / using the other as a parachute / I only put you on a pedestal / so I could see up your dress”). Far out!
Ole’ Nick aside, if there’s one track on the album that really hasn’t been written by the band than it’s the John Cooper Clarke classic ‘I Married A Monster From Outer Space’. Inspired!
Last track ‘Burn In Hell in D minor’ is the odd one out, for not only does it resemble more of a rambling of carefully selected blasphemous words, it’s so bleak you just want to slash your wrists upon hearing it. Or you feel encouraged to travel with a psychopathic fire-and-brimstone preacher to spread the word of doom. Would it sound any more uplifting were it played in C major or something? I doubt it.
Whether you intend on burning in hell or not, you really should get this gatefold deluxe 12” vinyl edition from Beast Records, France. Not only for the music but for the awesome artwork too!