What’s with that bird on the cover? Is this a picture of some kind of ritual I’m not aware of, or is it just a picture of a dead bird? Also, why is the bird placed on someone’s bound-together feet? I sincerely hope it wasn’t killed in order to take that picture. In any case, this kind of imagery and rituals that include killing animals would go well together with old school black metal, but not so much with post hardcore and noise.
See, I’m a bit confused here, and the press info wasn’t of much help in my search for clarity. The genre I could have figured out myself. That’s my job. But how about some info regarding motivation? Context? Where you are from, or who you are, or how long you’ve been around. Something like that. Music doesn’t come into existence in a vacuum. Context is important. Your music has got to be saying something, at least in the genres we cover. What this album is saying, I really don’t know. It’s not that I didn’t try to find out. Since the blurb didn’t provide much information and the lyrics are mostly unintelligible, I checked the band’s Bandcamp page and their Facebook account, but couldn’t find much info there either. The band site they have listed on their Bandcamp page is no longer active and the domain is up for sale… Well, on to the bits I did find out:
Membrane are from Vesoul, France, and have been active at least since 2001. This, anyway, is the date of their first demo. It has been followed by quite a few other releases over the years. Their new long player Burn Your Bridges features seven tracks, adding up to roughly 40 minutes of playtime. The music, in general, is raw, noisy and bass-heavy. The production is fine. At its best the music sounds like early Helmet (Meantime) and Unsane.
Stand in the rain, the first track, starts out with a single guitar, playing a fine, somewhat contemplative tune, and clean, rather hushed vocals. After a minute and a half, bass and drums join the guitar, heavily, and the vocals change to screaming. The atmosphere shifts from sore, sad, and a little bit eerie, to angry, but inert. And that’s the way things stay for the most part of the album.
The album’s highlight and the only track I would single out is Battlefield. It’s got a great drive, and although it sounds a lot like Helmet’s In the meantime, it’s the only song that makes me forgive, at least a little bit, the bold claim from the press info that “Membrane are unmatched in playing rhythms (…).” If you fancy a listen, you can do so here. Battlefield features female vocals reminding me of Blonde Redhead. It turns out that joining Helmet and Blonde Redhead is a combination that works really well. If the whole album was like this it would have a more innovative character and would sound less recycled.
All in all, Burn Your Bridges appears to be a half product and not completely thought through. That’s the difference, between a hobby band, and a band that takes their music making more seriously. It’s great to have a hobby band, don’t get me wrong. All bands start out like that, and a lot of the bands we review here fall into that category, but if you want to reach a greater audience and not just play locally or for your friends, if you want people buying your releases and listening to them, you’ve got to gear up a bit. For now, it looks like Membrane are concentrating on a sound that’s long past its prime, and they are not giving it a new twist. That doesn’t make much sense to me, because if somebody wants to listen to Helmet and Unsane, they can do just that.