Review Summary: Make sure to bring the fire extinguisher
The rock-revival of the early 2000's owed much to two-pieces, such as The White Stripes, The Black Keys and The Kills. Apart from the set-up they had in common, consisting of guitar, drums, vocals and - sometimes - an attractive lady in their ranks, these bands played a rejuvenated version of the blues. Songs like I Just Don't Know What to do With Myself
showed that mixing the slow, longing guitar slides of the traditional blues with some good old-fashioned AC/DC-riffing creates a recipe with some very tasty results. Taking note from this fact, were - among many others - two youthful characters from the small country town of Dilbeek, Belgium: Jan Paternoster and Dries Van Dijck (age 16 and 14 at the time), otherwise known as The Black Box Revelation.
They participated in the Humo's Rock Rally (the most prestigious battle-of-the-bands type contest in Belgium) in 2006 and managed to take home the silver medal. They did so with a - then small - collection of excellent, blues-infused hard rock songs, such as the early single Kill For Peace
. The acquired second place, with corresponding prize money, allowed them to record their debut album, Set Your Head On Fire, and the result is an impressive piece of work.
A pounding drum intro paves the way for the opening riff of I Think I Like You
, and from that point on, the record shifts to second gear. The album opener was chosen as the first single, and deservedly so. The howling voice of Paternoster does a good job hiding the fact that the lyrics aren't poetic masterpieces (the guy was 18 when this was recorded after all), and the drummer nearly beats his drum kit to death, while still managing to keep a steady backbeat going. In a similar vein are the rockers Love is on My Mind
, We Never Wondered Why
and the absolute cluster bomb that is the title track, which easily has one of the strongest riffs of the past decade. "Set your head on fire in the all black night"
The blokes are smart enough to realize that a continuous wall of sound can be very tiring to the ears, so resting points are included at regular intervals. While songs like Gravity Blues
(perfect song title) or the more ballad-like Never Alone/Always Together
are real highlights, the same cannot be said about the failed experiments Beatbox Revelation
(where they tamper too much with the effects pedals) or Misery Box
, that unfortunately lets the album end on a low note.
But these are all beginner mistakes, really. They have talent aplenty, and are trying to achieve an international breakthrough in the near-future. Set Your Head On Fire is thus not without its flaws, but has more than enough sweets to account for the occasional sour flavours.