Membrane“Membrane make a living from working with noise”. And some noise it is. The French band’s fifth album is not the sort of ambient soundscape where figures emerge unexpectedly out of gloomy shadows, but a crashing world of reverberating sounds, loud and distantly screaming vocals and all round heaviness. “Weighty” would be a good description of “Reflect Your Pain”, I’d say.

So “A Dead Weight” is an appropriate track title and this is what starts this album off. Urgent cries are superimposed on a mechanical heavy mass of overwhelming gloom with a deep bass chasm. Ambience isn’t really the order of the day because it and the following tracks progress in a bulldozing way which has more hardcore than sludge about it. “The Face” similarly has a grey cutting and industrial edge to it. If it’s not violent, it’s suggestive of it. Post metal and post industrial guitar sounds supply the crushing waves and then it dies. The sludge of “Leaving a Trail” is what it needed, as noise = noise, however overwhelming it is. The vocalist adds a vulnerable edge. As a supplement to these vocals, “Breath” has a strange, mantra style to go with it. I don’t know what the intent was but it’s just weird. The track itself has more to offer than most. It’s more expansive and atmospheric. I could sense an unstoppable and powerful trudge to oblivion. ”Never Ending” is more frenzied and cacophonous. The screaming frenzy heightens the heavy and merciless scene. Then a doom-like mantra emerges on “Lonesome” before the band crank up the now customary murky violent dirge.

I find it’s always a hard one with noise. This has identity and if noise has sub genres, this is loud post hardcore. There’s nothing wrong and it faithfully follows its pattern, but other than the hints of sludgier moments in it, “Reflect Your Pain” didn’t appeal to my senses and left me numb.

(6/10 Andrew Doherty)