Burning Heads, from Orleans in France, are perhaps one of the least recognised bands on the punk rock circuit. Having formed in 1988, they have made a name for themselves in their native country but, despite singing in English, have never managed to break foreign markets. Their ability to produce both reggae ska and punk rock tracks is incredible, with their songs finding their way onto compilations of all sorts. Having released a number of exceptional albums, seven to be precise, including 'Escape', in 1999, the band recently returned with 'Taranto', their best yet.

Back in the fall of 2000, as part of the Epitaph Euro Attack Tour, with Dutch geniuses Heideroosjes and German punkers Terrorgruppe, the group met what was perhaps the most disappointing episode of their lives to date. With barely 100 fans at the London gig and a paltry gathering in Nottingham, the general consensus was to never set foot in the UK again. With 'Taranto', we can only now see what a great shame that has been. One can however, see the true character of a band when met with such a situation as this. Their continued joy at performing and their off-stage antics of setting fire to giant paper aeroplanes whilst Heideroosjes concluded the night, may seem to some to be childish, yet ,for those present within this mayhem, the full beauty of Burning Heads came alight.

Perhaps named after Taranto harbour in Italy, this album is of eternal magnificence; it is of a wholly different nature to the trash punk rock that largely tops the charts nowadays. 'Taranto' is of typically French fluidity, concise and masterful, making statements against the world's capitalist tendencies and highlighting the underlying motives which oiled American machinery in its quest to rid Iraq of its dictatorial government.

Once part of the Epitaph punk empire, Burning Heads appear to have moved on somewhat, finding solace in the arms of Yelen Musiques, part of the Sony Columbia group. This new start was well founded with 'Opposite (2001), an album consisting entirely of reggae tracks, and continues here in 'Taranto', albeit within their normal genre of music. It is this variety in genres that makes Burning Heads extraordinary. Not content with what they have already covered, the band are now working on what is being labelled as a 'project album', one which will combine electro with punk rock: this we must see!

'Taranto' is melodic; it has a hardcore, New York style; but also has that European cultural difference acting as its kernel. From this nucleus a wonderful sound is born. Album and eye opener, 'An 01 (Year One)', illustrates just that with heavy drumming and a more complex guitar structure than the band have previously managed. Leading into 17 tracks of pure punk pleasure, of which one is a cover (The Ruts' 'Babylon's Burning'), 'An 01' provides the focus from which the rest of 'Taranto' follows and will silence those who thought 'Opposite' had signalled a permanent change in direction.

The incisive guitaring and buoyant vocals of 'Globalize' are indicative of hard-edged music and lend themselves perfectly to a band whose gigs follow a similar pattern. Fitting neatly within the lyrical concepts put forward by the Burning Heads, 'Globalize' doesn't tend intellectually but covers people's typical views of Westernisation and its consequent Globalisation.

With its compelling lyrics-" the market's just collapsed/in a wave of freedom/watch the city shine/ brighter than ever/politicians can no longer deceive/so decisions come from the street"- 'it indicates that civilisation is not infallible. This theme of Western destruction and capitalism is continued further still in 'Globalize', which details many of the dangers the environment regularly faces due to our governments' self-interest protection policies. 'Globalize' is poignant and dark with that, and this is beautifully encapsulated as well in words such as " you've dug your grave/ now lie in it/millions dying with you/you know we're never gonna stop/smash our heads against the wall."

'Bush a Bush' makes the most obvious point of the album and heavily supports France's stand towards the Iraq war: trading flesh for oil/you don't give a damn/we don't need your war and we'll say it loud."

The Burning Heads are an exceptional band. They fit neatly into the category of bands that will never quite make it but deserve to. 'Taranto' is a very good record , and is intelligent both musically and from a lyrical viewpoint. The European cultural inclusion, which is evident in the Burning Heads' style, despite taking influence from American punk groups, adds to the enchantment of an album of great spirit and endeavour; certainly one for the Europeans amongst us.













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