Album Review: An Autumn For Crippled Children - All Fell Silent, Everything Went Quiet
Reviewed by Robbie Maguire
Straddling the metal and shoegaze worlds is a niche skill. Some bands whom are tagged with the 'blackgaze' monicker are able to walk that line deftly whilst delicately enticing you in to the ethereal beauty of shimmering guitars and melancholic melodies. Then in an instant drop you into the deepest depths of a depraved and foreboding place with viscous black metal. To be able to mix these and add more is something 'An Autumn for Crippled Children' have nearly achieved on 'All Fell Silent, Everything Went Quiet'. I say nearly as the mysterious Dutch trio never take you fully into the blackened depths where the metal becomes oppressively extreme. Their brand of 'blackgaze' on this album encompasses a whole lot more with a bubbling electro synth pop energy as the main undercurrent. This is apparent on opener 'Became You' which has a drive, energy and rhythm echoing the best 80 new wave and bar a few songs the band doesn't deviate from. Yes there are tempo changes within the album, clever and subtle ones at that which occur many times adding to the dynamic of the songs. Screamed, anguished vocals act as an additional instrument whilst synth chords penetrate through and then envelope a warmth and haziness as demonstrated so well on the opening track. A wonderful rambling bass holds 'Waters Edge' tightly together, the wails of guitar return and again the trippy synth playing out this time breeds an uplifting sense of euphoria.
The atmosphere achieved in this style of music is at times as important as the music itself. The driving, pounding drums in the background of 'Paths' and the contrast of the dreamlike ambience from the electronic instruments creates a lightness and sense of escapism. When there are moments of contrast, there is no fanfare it just works. The haunting and sinister 'None More Pale' has a driving vibrancy to it, and you find yourself hearing individual sounds amongst the textures be it cymbal crashes or keys. All over the album there are moments of surprise and discovery. There is a beauty behind the blackgaze. Moments which benefit from a production that allows the swathes of song textures and multi layers to flourish yet permits the heaviness to shine through. Melodies playout joyously whilst the bass acts like a magnet to the whole album.
The moments when instruments come in, change or compliment a structure is also a note of interest. The immediacy of these changes keeps the attention and interest fully engaged. An Autumn for Crippled Children are able to deliver the darker blackgaze as well, as in 'The Failing Senses'. The blast beats in the latter part of the song, which whilst may never have been described as delicate until now along with the ice cold guitars are as ferocious as they are enveloping to the whole song rather than just a punishing accompaniment.
'All Fell Silent, Everything Went Quiet' is described as a chronology of the human condition. In knowing this before setting out to listen to the album I thought I would be more equipped to break down and see that exact subject matter within the songs. I didn't. That's not to say you wont see that come through in the music. Great music just works whether you know what the focus, intentions and themes within the album are. What's works for someone is interpreted differently by another. Rest assured you will feel many things on listening to this. Quite what though is down to you. You are in for an exciting listen.
An Autumn For Crippled Children release 'All Fell Silent, Everything Went Quiet' on Prosthetic Records on May 1st.