Big Deal. What’s He Done Lately?
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Guts Of Steel CD
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We Came In Peace CD
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Brimstone Howl PRESS

Brimstone Howl – photo by Patrick Boissel

There is a pungent smell of sulphur blasting out of Lincoln, Nebraska. Thankfully, it’s not the end for all us sinners as predicted in the King James version of the Bible, but a barely controlled unleashing of some of the finest reverb-drenched rock ‘n’ roll to be heard in quite a while. With We Came in Peace, their fourth album in three years, Brimstone Howl have surpassed all expectation by turning in a record that galvanizes their seat-of-the-pants garage-punk stomp with razor-sharp lyrics, while production by Detroit’s Jim Diamond (think the White Stripes’ first two albums and the Gore Gore Girls’ latest) keeps it crisp without the loss of the band’s cavernous, gritty sound. The four-piece outfit’s description of their most recent effort as “weird fictional adventure stories, and beginner blues guitar lessons for mongoloids” barely scratches the surface of the strangeness beneath.

Recorded in just four days at Diamond’s studio, Ghetto Recorders, the 15 tracks here keep up a relentless pace throughout. Spine-tingling lyrics rub shoulders with fuzzed-out rockabilly. Lead singer/guitarist John Ziegler howls, croons, and screams about being a mere “ass scratch away from the truth” on the country-swamp ‘n’ roll of “Obliterator”, recalling a vibrant Screamin’ Jay Hawkins. He tells the excellent spoken-word tale of a young sociopath’s love on the run ("The World Will Never Know") and describes a boy’s delight at signing up for the US Marines ("USMC") so he can trade “in the cunny for a little bit of physical pain”. All the while, the boys from the backbeat keep it tight with Calvin Retzlaff’s pile-driver drumming and latest bass player Matt Shaughnessy (the band haemorrhage bassists – - eight or possibly nine, but who’s counting) fuelling the frenzied delights offered up by numbers like opener “They Call Me Hopeless Destroyer” and the feral rampage that’s “Catamite Blues”, where “eunuchs weep” as Nick Waggoner’s phosphorescent guitar solos light up the “valley of pain”. – Alan Brown / PopMatters
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Omaha band Brinstone Howl took upon themselves a seemingly impossible task to fuse The Cramps with Flannery O’Connor. With help of Jim Diamond behind the knobs, We Came In Peace is a stellar proof of their successful result. Now, how in the world Rod Sterling fits into the whole picture (a third name that the band cites as an influence on their myspace page), I guess you will have to find out by listening to their music. Omaha is a twilight zone where all those crazy influences converged into one. – The Little Light House
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Apart from the music itself, the lyrics really caught my attention and are indeed in the spirit of great rock and roll. I mean, how can you go wrong with lines like, "Said the big red rooster to the mother hen- I’m back the shit again." Probably my favorite passage comes in "The World Will Never Know", a psychedelic narrative that sounds similar to the early work of the Electric Prunes, and states, "Her mother gave me a red glare of millennial loathing, so I gave her one arrogant finger. And I covered her porch in gravel. That made the correct impression." Come on now, how much more rock and roll can we get? For me, it is not the fast paced, make-you-sweat songs that stick out, though they are mighty fine indeed. Personally, I feel that the songs that stretch the influential boundaries take the cake and make the record much stronger indeed. These include the aforementioned "The World Will Never Know" and the psychedelic blues in "Easy to Dream" and "Obliterator." What comes to mind first with "Easy to Dream" is the Velvet Underground in the heroin years, complete with a hypnotic eighth-note feel among the sleigh bells, piano, and tom-toms and guitar lines that fall in and out of tune and tempo. "Obliterator" seems to channel a big Canned Heat influence with mainly spoken, sometimes howled lyrics that could easily be a personal take on Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. No shit, this track is like John Lee Hooker speaking of his own "blood rituals of the Congo land" and is just the kind of color and spice that gives this album its cherry on top.

Bravo to Brimstone Howl for doing something different and giving us more of the rock that we all once loved. Do yourself a favor, if you love old rock and roll, garage, punk, and the blues, lend this band your ear and definitely check out anything that Alive Records has to offer. They do things right in the way it used to sound back when rock and roll was much stronger. One can only hope that bands like Brimstone Howl and entities like the good folks at Alive will keep it going to hopefully see things come full circle. It is about damned time. – AB / Disc Exchange
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A gradually blooming flower that takes this reckless western-twang tinged garage with rudimentary rock undercurrents from blunt and one-dimensional to a beautiful, multi-faceted, and most notably, mature chapter in one of the best non-shit-fi pigfuck garage bands around. I like this band a lot right now, ‘cause they seem to look past all the immobilizing truisms of garage derivation and just go for it. Like they don’t feel it in their dicks or their cerebellums but in their hearts. And as emphatic emotion is known to do, they transgress many emotive turfs. If “Guts of Steel” was the midday excursion to the watering hole in search of a one-off summer fling with a smooth young gal, “We Came In Peace” is the first day of Fall – frigid while beams of sun poke through deadened branches and teases of past carelessness. And that tends to be the theme: heartbreak and acceptance, with the interjection of a very Christian optimism that promises themselves a Spring to every of their Winters. – Terminal Boredom
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Part fuzz, part grunge and a machine gun back beat. – Austin Scaggs / Smoking Section of Rolling Stone
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Brimstone Howl are four young men from Nebraska who sound like they’ve just returned in their time machine after a jolly afternoon of thumping Mods in Brighton Beach. Their latest album We Came In Peace (recorded by one-time White Stripes collaborator Jim Diamond) is a sneering and surprisingly three-dimensional rock & roll record. No-nonsense opening tracks They Call Me Hopeless Destroyer and A Million Years sound like a brylcreamed, black-clad alternate universe version of Radio Birdman, while they come across as fearsome blues lurchers in Obliterator. There’s even a catchy pop song in Easy To Dream which slows down Them’s Here Comes The Night riff and adds echoey Spector piano and twanging Link Wray guitars to make a deliciously dark concoction. And a few grey sky soundscapes aside, We Came In Peace moves along at a rattling pace, with lots of tumble-along rockabilly rhythms, stinging guitar and Lux Interior-via-Jon Spencer howl-croon vocals. Quite fabulous. – Matt Thrower / Rave Magazine
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A pretty well crafted and surprisingly enjoyable slab of retro rock that manages to avoid sticking too close to its influences, while still taking the best bits and incorporating them into their own sound. If you want to get back to what made rock and roll so appealing in the first place, you could do a lot worse than "We Came In Peace". – Cianan Delahunty / Halo-17
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The full-length the world has been waiting for Brimstone Howl to make. – The Sailor Jerry
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Brimstone Howl embrace that random line where punk and the blues intersect. – Mike Manning / Hypertrack
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I’ve spent a few nights wrapping my head around the beast that is We CameIin Peace. Having always been too explosive for their mortal skin, Brimstone Howl are less of a band, and more an offensive attack. Unashamedly passionate about garage rock and gloriously dispassionate toward those who fail to recognise it as the feral noise of a caveman pounding wild boars with jagged granite. Produced by Jim Diamond (see The Dirtbombs, The Gories et al) amidst the chaos, songs like ‘Easy To Dream’ teeters on the brink of sentiment for all of three minutes, approaching slumber until shaken awake by the creep of Iggy Pop on tracks like ‘Obliterator.’ With Nick Cave vocals and dark closet production keeping front man John Ziegler firmly in check. Not that this should deter listeners from what is essentially another monumentally loud album from Alive. In its field, on par with The Heads Under Sided or anything by The Cramps. – Richard S Jones / Shindig
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Mid-West American Sonics flavoured psych-head rock and roll from three bends down the river.
Some cranked garage blues and Cramps style below the waist swamp rock. Dirty, gritty and sounding just right. – Organ
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If success can be gauged by the company you keep then Nebraska’s Dirty-Punk/ Aggro-Blues Rockers Brimstone Howl are already legends. Their 7″ for Blood on the Rocks, Bones in the River was recorded back in 2006 by wunderkind Texas garage rocker Jay Reatard. You’ll have to hook a lie detector to most hipsters who would claim they even knew who Reatard was back then. Since then they have recorded 2007’s Guts Of Steel with producer Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys and this year’s We Came In Peace produced by Jim Diamond who co-produced the first two White Stripes records. – Avant-Trash
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We’ve got dirty blues rock as purveyed by the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion and Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster, we’ve also got something that is dirty – filthy even – and full of the blood, sweat, sweat, sweat and sweat that any self respecting rocker thrives on. In places, We Came in Peace is a fantastic listen, in fact one would say that “this is the best gritty, dirty, blues rock record of all time”. – Jeremy Style / Bearded Magazine
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There’s something so simple and easy and necessary about Brimstone Howl of course they’re from Nebraska. From the sound of "A Million Years," it seems like these five fellas could play a goddamned sock hop in a school gym and without missing a beat go and set a dark and sweaty club on fire. From the catchy as hell hooks to the cooler than cool vocals Brimstone Howl know their way around a rock song. With records out on Boom Chick and SYA it seems logical that the band has found a new place to rest their hat with Alive, currently putting out some of my favorite straight up, balls to the wall, twisting the night away rock and roll. Brimstone Howl may say they need a million years but in two and a half minutes they make the girls swoon, the fellas dance and the room fall in love. – Christen Thomas / RCRD LBL
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Wow, I didn’t see this one coming at all. I liked Brimstone Howl’s previous album, Guts of Steel, but I’m ready to declare my love for the band with We Came In Peace, the band’s fourth in three years. The album succeeds by tapping directly into the original pulse of rebellious 1950′s rock’n'roll and follows its growth through 1960′s beat bands, Detroit proto-punk and the early stages of punk rock. Most of these 15 songs are drenched in the same pools of sweat that you can find on records by Johnny Burnette, The Cramps and Nuggets bands, but played at fast Ramones/Damned speeds, but don’t mistake this Nebraska four piece for a bunch of knuckle-dragging cavemen incapable of doing anything besides thrashing out three chords. They can also concoct a dark VU/JAMC-styled feedback ballad like "Easy To Dream", kick up a wild voodoo-infused jungle-blues ruckus on "Obliterator" and dip into psychedelic space-rock like "Yr. Gonna Walk", where the band sports perhaps as much reverb as I’ve heard outside of perhaps Outrageous Cherry (another contemporary band that Brimstone Howl can claim sonic kinship with). What’s most amazing is that no matter what the band are doing on a particular song on We Came In Peace, they are doing it in uniformly excellent fashion, with every instrument fully locked in tight and a typically excellent production from Jim Diamond. This is going to easily find it’s way onto my Top Ten of 2008. – David Mansdorf / Losing Today
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If you like your rock music dirty, bluesy and in your face then Brimstone Howl are going to be right up your Street. Imagine John Spencer Blues Explosion without the Elvis fixation and you’ll be part of the way there. The production is raw, the rhythm section pounding and the guitars visceral. From the opener ‘They Call Me The Hopeless Destroyer’ through to closer ‘Awake In The City’ this album barely lets up. It’s like an explosion in a Psychobilly factory. There are moments when band and listener can catch their collective breath, but you have to wait until four tracks in to get the first of them. The opening salvo of ‘Hopeless Destroyer’, ‘A Million Years’ and ‘Child Of Perdition’ is as blistering a start to an album as I’ve heard for quite some time. – Echoes & Dust
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“We Came in Peace” is the best real rock ’n’ roll record of 2008. It just happens to come from Nebraska’s very own Brimstone Howl. A massive assault of garage punk honed to perfection by legendary Detroit producer Jim Diamond, the disc takes the propulsive, big-beat, big-hook, fuzzed-out Brimstone Howl sound to a new dimension, rarely pausing for breath in its taut, slithering attack. Diamond, who has worked with The White Stripes, The Dirtbombs and The Henchmen among others, puts just the right touches on the music — a keyboard here, lots of echo there — and singer John Zeigler has written his best set of tunes yet. – Kent Wolgamott / JournalStar
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Gonzai review (France) | Planet Trash review (Netherlands) | Paper Blog (France) | Lowcut concert review (Denmark) | Rock Around the Blog (Portugal) | Planet Gong (France) | Upcoming (France) | Mélodies Vyniliques (France) | Shaking Street (Spain) | Le Golb review (France)
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A band with thrilling magic in their dark hearts. – NME
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They came in peace But left some pieces.
Brimstone Howl, one of the greatest rock ‘n’ roll bands inhabiting earth, came through Provo in August to promote their new album, We Came in Peace. You probably didn’t hear about the show because it was played at an undisclosed location (wink wink), but it shook the building to its foundations. Everybody got rocked. The boys in the band played most of the new songs and some of the old ones. I’m a big fan of these dudes, if you can’t tell. We Came in Peace is their third full-length effort, and I was skeptical, because, well, I’m a skeptic. I have a tough time letting go of a band’s old record when a new one comes out, and there is usually a probationary period for new records. The new ones have to stand up in some part to what I dig most about the previous record. We Came in Peace has passed my arbitrary snotty new record test. I dig this record — all the way around. They tweaked their sound just enough to be interesting, but not so much that they’ve lost what made me love them in the first place: ground-shaking primal beats, the catchy take on crappy bar rock, haunting vocals, tons of reverb, and nothing short of phenomenal guitar work from a bunch of drunken Nebraskans. These are the kids that set fire to the devil’s tail, y’all. Now, lastly, if Brimstone Howl ever plays in your town, here’s a few things you might want to remember: They dig burritos, they dig beer, and Calvin Retzlaff will pass out on your couch with his pants half way down and leave parts of his drum-kit at your house and take your cymbals back to Nebraska. – Joe Mayes / UVU
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Having already recorded with the Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach and White Stripes producer Jim Diamond, Nebraska’s Brimstone Howl is making a name among analog purists and rock ‘n roll revivalists. (…) Most of the album resonates with the garage-rock, British Invasion and early punk influences that, over the course of four albums, have become Brimstone Howl’s stock-in-trade. John Ziegler’s vocals remain somewhere between early Mick Jagger and a less affected Lux Interior, while Waggoner’s guitar work on "Easy to Dream" is reminiscent of post-Velvets Lou Reed. – Bill Forman / Colorado Springs Independent
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