Seeing the name The Burning Hell on the listing for The Parish, you would be forgiven for expecting to see a death metal band straight out of Finland’s remotest regions take to the stage.

Indeed a choir made up of raving evangelicals may seem more likely than the actual members of the group, who are due to rock up in Huddersfield on July 14.

Mathias Kom and Ariel Sharratt are two-fifths of the indie-folk band, who are rapidly gaining cult status not just in the outer reaches of Canada, where they reside, but across Europe and the UK.

This is thanks to their ability to layer Mathias’ mischievous lyrics, which fuse intelligent and caustically comedic poetry perfectly with sharp, poppy rhythms on ukelele, clarinet and a long list of other instruments that gives the impression they certainly do not travel light when playing as a full band.

Formed in 2006, Mathias, who sounds like the resulting love child of Leonard Cohen and Jonathan Richman (and trust me, that’s a good thing) has been performing and recording with other members around St John’s in remote Newfoundland.

It is a place he moved to, he said, because of the perhaps surprisingly good music scene that has emerged, he thinks, due to the lack of there being anything else to do.

He chose the band’s name after he was given a pamphlet containing the phrase, The Burning Hell, by a man in the street and discovered that the name was used as the title for an evangelical film of the same name.

“It seemed perfect, because it doesn’t sound anything like the name for a folk band,’’ explained Mathias.

“It has led to some strange bookings though, for example I feel we got booked in Latvia, which has a massive metal scene, because of our name and of course every so often I will get emailed from some church group asking if I can give them permission to screen the film – I think they must have navigated our website with their eyes closed.

“But even when the audience doesn’t dress like they’re into folk, they seemed to have a good time.”

Hopefully that will be the case in Huddersfield, where they are playing as part of the continuation of their first ever UK tour.

“We’ve been to Italy, Germany and all over the rest of Europe but we’ve never managed to get to Britain until now.

“I guess that’s kind of laziness on my part because I’d always thought there was a lot of paperwork to fill in, which I’m afraid of, but I’ve realised it’s not actually that bad.

“We’re really excited to come over, especially because we’ve hardly been before and the best thing about going on tour somewhere for the first time is discovering new places and meeting new people.”

It’s also not long since they released their first album in the UK, People, which arrived on our shores last year.

Nine songs in length, it has a more rock-led edge than their previous releases yet has lost none of Mathias’ witty lyrical observations, musical pizzazz and moments of poignancy that gives them their delightfully bittersweet vibe that’s more addictive than a bag of sour candies from the local shop.

“It’s our first straight up rock album. I put away the ukelele and played guitar although there’s some twists.”

Mathias Kom and Ariel Sharratt of The Burning Hell, a cult indie-folk band who will play as a duo in Huddersfield on July 14
Mathias Kom and Ariel Sharratt of The Burning Hell, a cult indie-folk band who will play as a duo in Huddersfield on July 14
 

The songs elude to different character types, with titles such as barbarians, industrialists and amateur rappers.

“I got the idea for the theme when I was on tour and was reading a guy called Gabe Foreman’s A Complete Encyclopedia of Different Types of People, which really inspired me.

“We played it all live and it’s been interesting performing it as a duo but we’re surprised by how well it works.”

Mathias is obsessive about making sure that their audiences do not get bored when coming to see them live.

“Playing smaller shows as a duo allows the lyrics to come through more and we’re more able to be more spontaneous.

“However, whether we play as a duo or as the full band, which we try to tour as once a year, even though some of the members have other projects, we always try to give our crowds something different to our records, because we think that’s what live music should do.

“For this tour we’re going to play a mix of our older material that we’ve reworked and try out some new songs which, if they get a good reception, we might use on records in the future.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YaVe8KeBbp0

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