Brimstone Howl – Big Deal…What’s He Done Lately? (Alive Records)

Omaha’s greatest rock’n’roll band are back with their fourth album, and this time the boys have even written liner notes that have more or less done my job for me:

“Some may think that We Came In Peace  (their 2008 album) was the sound of us maturing and really finding our thing. If that’s the case, this album is a major episode of regression. Ha ha!”

They’re not wrong. We Came In Peace really was a major leap forward in terms of songwriting and recording (thanks in no small part to Jim Diamond’s production), and instead of building off it, Brimstone Howl seem to have retreated from it. Big Deal. What’s He Done Lately? (taken from a great Johnny Ramone quote about Phil Spector) is good, but the treble-heavy production turns what used to be sharp, well-crafted attacks into a thrashy blur. Bad production or not, the band still smokes with razor-like intensity throughout, marrying demon-preacher vocals a la Eddie Cochran, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Iggy Pop with ’76/’77-era white-hot punk aggression. Even if this is a rare case where a good album is a disappointment, I’ll still get plenty of spins from “Easter At The Lewises,” the wild rocker “Last Time,” and “Suicide Blues,” an explosive track which cops a few moves from “I’m Waiting For The Man.” We Come In Peace is still Brimstone Howl’s best point of entry, but if you if you’ve already liked what you heard there, seek this album out for another reminder that rock music is still alive and well.