Well, I suppose there’s not much that’s more depressing than suffering children. Especially, when the suffering is of a kind that cannot be traced back to anyone’s wrong choices. Children that are born with some kind of genetic defect, that are crippled or, to use the politically correct term that waters the suffering down, handicapped, certainly fall into that category. There is also nothing that would easier disprove the existence of a benevolent, omnipotent being in the sky than suffering children. Surely, such a being, if it existed, would first eradicate the children’s misery. What purpose could their suffering possibly serve?
An Autumn for Crippled Children have been made fun of because of their name in the past. While there certainly are ludicrous bad names, I don’t think that this is one of them. It’s a bit weird, yes, and the mentioning of crippled children probably makes most people feel uncomfortable, but that is very likely intended. It is a good band name in that it already tells you a lot about the band and their music. You know what to expect. It reminds you that there is senseless suffering in the world, and that there is absolutely no one to relieve you of it. If you don’t like to be reminded of that, if you can’t stomach that, do not enter.
The three-piece from the Netherlands has been “painting bleak paintings of the sky” since 2009. While their beginnings have been characterized as depressive black metal, today, they play mostly post black metal, or shoegaze with black metal elements and vocals, somewhat like Deafheaven. Today, it’s not all as bleak as it used to be. Track titles like New Hope, A New Day Has Come or Still Dreaming, point towards at least occasional rays of light, but there are, of course, also more expected track titles like Lovelorn, Fragility or The Silence Inside.
I’ve been to a Deafheaven show recently and didn’t like it much. Talk about a band being hyped. There wasn’t much shoegazing in their blackgaze. The genre the singer was performing in I would rather call “all eyes on me”. It kind of takes the focus of the music and its themes if you make a spectacle of yourself. An Autumn for Crippled Children, on the other hand, are the introverted kind of performer, which, for this genre, I find more fitting and credible. The band members have yet to identify themselves to the public. Who they really are is not publicly known, there are no band photos and no real names anywhere to be found.
Most of the time, the music of guitar, drums, bass and keyboards flows nicely along, harmonious and melodious, with the occasional thrashing drumming and guitar shredding, while there is someone raging in the background. The raging vocals are not prominent and the lyrics are unintelligible. I like that constellation, because it is a fitting representation of society and an, in some way negatively affected, individual. Although you are screaming at the top of your lungs, your voice is hardly being heard, let alone what you are screaming about.
I especially like the band’s aesthetics as they can be seen on the covers of their releases and their social media and bandcamp pages. Usually, they feature black and white photographs. While nature was their focus on earlier releases, now it’s cold, sterile and geometrically accurate interiors, especially staircases. There are never any people in the photographs.
Credible, consequent and carefully considered. Cold and depressing, but beautiful too. Worth your time and your money.