21 May 2021
Blackgazee/Atmospheric Black Metal | Prosthetic Records | Release date: 21 May 2021
This album summons you to an emotional venture into the dark undercurrents of modern atmospheric metal music.
Founded in Friesland, the Netherlands, in 2008 this trio has regularly released new material since their debut Lost in 2010. This release marks their ninth full length. An Autumn for Crippled Children has never played live and the identities of the band members are unknown. The band is often compared to Deafheaven and Alcest for their take on black metal music as they are drifting on the same atmospheric soundscapes within the subgenre of blackgaze, which somewhat combine among other styles black metal and shoegaze, a subgenre they helped establish.
While these days blackgaze has almost exploded in popularity, An Autumn for Crippled Children are not hindered by categorizations as their heavy dark guitars flow like a broad river over the bottom of rhythmic drumming, like rocks rolling over the river bed. And in the mix there is always keyboards, mainly synths that shines glittering light on the dark and grey river surface. Like a river, the flow of sound changes with many nuances - it can flow quietly or it can rush by with a strong current, it can be a thunderous waterfall, but it is always dreamy and beautiful in its dark heaviness. It is almost as if An Autumn for Crippled Children´s music is a dark undercurrent of the shoegaze genre, using far darker sonic textures and atmosphere. On this album, the band has developed their emotional music style and has become more varied, each track more distinct from one another than on previous releases.
Without preamble the first track, ”Carefully Breathing”, yanks you in to the deep undercurrent of heavy riffing guitars, tug you towards the snarling vocals. And over this dark flow, the synths rise up, letting in glimmers of light in the darkness of the guitars, bass and drums. The guitars change to beautifully played tremolo mode before it all quiets down a bit. The music swells once more until it stops as abruptly as it started. The mood of the album has been established.
On track two,“Of Your Light”, the keyboards are leading the melody from the start, almost like flashes of sunshine in the darkness. The ever-present snarling voice takes over for the synth and leads the music into a tremolo guitar solo, the drums almost at blast beat mode until the keyboards lets the light in again. But not for long, the heavy guitars dredge the track to the end, along with blast drums and dissonant keyboards.
Even if this album is released when the Summer is almost upon us, the band reminds us that Winter is not far away by the third track ”In Winter”. The track seems to be written with the album cover in mind. It starts with guitars in clean echo mode combined with synths almost like they want us to feel alone in a cold winter landscape on a mountain range. Without warning the guitars burst full speed into the soundscape accompanied by rapid drums. It is almost like you are forced to ski down a steep slope. We are brought dramatically down the slope by the haunting heavy music on this is quite cinematic track.
The listener continues to be haunted by the rapid instruments on track 4, ”Splendour Unnoticed”, but the way the synths are played reveal yet again that there can be brilliant light behind the dark, speedy heavy guitars. They build up the pulse of the music until the snarling voice slows them down for a moment. But just for a moment, as the track picks up pace again. The guitars churn around the musical theme and the drums shift to blast beat mode. But above this the synths lift up the mood with a beautiful melody.
”As The Morning Dawns We Close Our Eyes” is a good example of how the band often create poetry of the abstract with their album and track titles. The beginning of this track is a good place to close your eyes and be immersed in the dreamy ambient soundscapes they create. Until they slap you awake with the guitars and drums and drag you through the dark undercurrent once more. The arpeggios of the guitars are more prominent now until they turn into full tremolo style hurrying along the depths of the river accompanied by blasting drums.
In the sixth track, ”Hearts Closed”, the music is almost emptied of air in the start when the quick blast drums tightens the dark music. After some intense whirls the guitars take over accompanied by the floating synths and the music loosens again before it starts to build a crescendo that lasts until the end of the song. The listener can carefully begin breathing again.
On the next track, ”Melancholia” they glide effortlessly between their own established style, pure heavy metal riffing, black metal and nearly ventures into post rock with reverb and tremolo. This track is a good example of the varied musical styles that has influenced this band. And a good example of how they translate the styles into the band´s own distinct style.
The album finishes its venture into the dark undercurrents with ”Last Night I Believed in You”which begins with a short piano solo. The piano takes the lead and thus lets in glimmers of light between the heavy riffs and the blasting drums. It is beautifully fitted into the flowing dark river of sound they champion so well.
The mysterious persons behind this band have yet again made a masterfully imagined album. They stay true to their origins and to their own crafted musical style. While staying true to their immersive and emotional soundscapes, the band also push the boundaries and explore new ways to develop their music.