An Autumn For Crippled Children are a true Marmite band. Despised by many as the epitome of the hipster assault on the TRVE and KVLT unholiness of Black Metal they are often the anonymous whipping boys on many a social media platform. Others, look beyond the hype (or anti hype) and enjoy the mix of ethereal Cocteau Twins / My Bloody Valentine style show gaze with harsh BM vocals and the odd killer riff The fact that they are often referred to along with Alcest as spearheads of the oddly titled Blackgaze sub sub subgenre probably doesn’t help their cause in many eyes and ears.
If you have continued reading past the band name then I take it you are at least curious as to what the mysterious Dutch trio have come up with for their 8th long player. For a band that has been in existence for 11 years to have recorded 8 full length albums plus a myriad of E.P.s is quite an achievement, but then TxT, MxM and CxC are not waylaid by pesky live shows getting in the way of their studio project.
As on their previous releases the music on “All Fell Silent, Everything went Quiet” is expansive and sumptuous, allowing emotion to wash over the listener alternately like the warm Mediterranean or conversely the brutal North Sea.
Intros are not really a thing for this band and they continue their M.O. of dropping the listener in at the deep end right from the get go as “I Became You” jumps out of the speakers like a pastel , fractal enhanced dream that pounces on your subconscious the moment your head hits the pillow. When the vocals hit for the first time it still shocks, even though I have been listening to these guys for years. The harsh rasps are low enough in the mix to avoid overpowering the synth strings and watercolour guitars. The drums as ever work over time and are more reminiscent of the loose handed jazzy playing of Travis Barker than the blasts of black metal.
Waters Edge is delightfully playful with a lo fi 4AD early 80’s post punk guitar sound. It has a jaunty poppiness to it that gives it a childish air reminding me in parts of the faux J-Pop of Poppy and Grimes. The synths exude joy here and CXC hits the snare like Stephen Morris in Joy Division. In fact I am sensing a lot of the Mancunians influence throughout the album – there is a real post punk, proto goth feel to this album adding some deep greys to the pastel palette. This is evident in “Everlasting” “Silver and Pale” the latter two I even Ian Curtis danced about to.
Classic shoegazing moments are still evident in swathes. “Paths” sweeps the listener along on a euphoric yet sombre ride from the get go with the mournful keys adding delicious textures to the relentless riffs and vocal melancholy. The title track is textbook AAFCC and creates the sonic juxtaposition of joy and deep sadness intricately.
“None More Pale” is jerky, a spiky punky number that if it weren;t for the harsh vocals could be Head on the Door era The Cure or even Birdland. This is music you can dance to – like really unleash your arms to – like in the old days. Just add snakebite and Black or Thunderbird.
Pressing play on this album I thought I knew what to expect. In fact after a distracted listen I still thought it was business as usual. Another great release from AAFCC that showcases their musical talent and their ability to meld together extreme metal and the delicacy of Shoegaze.
Instead I have discovered something new – a sense of reverence and nostalgia for a time when independent music was truly alternative and being catchy and danceable were not swear words. I truly love this band’s music, it continues to inspire me and massage my soul in just the right spots.
(9/10 Matt Mason)