Extreme heavy music can seem like loud, scary noise for the sake of loud, scary noise. But if you’re drawn to intense, cavernously dark sounds, they can also be a portal through which to process emotions and find catharsis. (I don’t think it’s a coincidence that doom and drone metal have become more popular as societal, environmental, and political stressors have multiplied.) Oregon musician M.S.W. (Matthew Scott Williams) launched Hell as a solo project in the early 2000s to help him cope with multiple deaths in his family circle. As he told Kim Kelly for Vice’s Noisey vertical in 2017, “Being able to create music like this has helped me get through those hard times without winding up dead myself.” Hell’s early doom explorations were relatively straightforward, but over the years M.S.W. has incorporated a wide range of influences, including classical and folk. This has deepened and broadened the emotional range of his music, so that every time he announces a new release, I look forward to getting lost in its twists and turns. M.S.W. still writes and records everything on his own, but in a live setting (the best way to experience such music) he brings a band: the current lineup includes guitarist Sheene Coffins, new bassist Andrew Black, and drummer Liam Neighbors (aka Mizmor founder A.L.N.). Hell’s shows aren’t for the faint of heart, in the best possible sense of the term. On this tour, the band will perform Hell’s 2017 self-titled album (a previous performance has been released as Live at Roadburn 2018) in full—if you’re in need of something bleak, brutal, and beautiful in your life, don’t miss it.
Hell Meth. and Lijde open. Thu 4/20, 8 PM, Cobra Lounge, 235 N. Ashland, $18.03, 17+