Hailing from Lincoln, Nebraska, BRIMSTONE HOWL is formed by John Ziegler (guitar and vocals), Nick Waggoner (guitar and vocals) and Calvin Retvlaff (drums), with a number of other musicians drifting in and out of the band. They made three records of their Sixties-influenced blend of blues, beat and garage punk for Alive : Guts Of Steel (produced by Dan Auerbach in 2007), We Came in Peace (2008), and Big Deal: What Have You Done For Me Lately? (2009).
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
A band with thrilling magic in their dark hearts. – NME
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. – Disc Exchange
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
Part fuzz, part grunge and a machine gun back beat. – Austin Scaggs / ROLLING STONE
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
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!
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
“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