What do we know about An Autumn For Crippled Children? They’re from the Netherlands. They’ve been melding black metal and post-punk/shoegaze across seven full-length albums and five EP’s. They’ve never played live and the band members remain anonymous, only recognized on liner notes as Mchl (guitars, vocals, keys), Td (bass, keys), and Chr (drums, keys).
Putting emphasis on music rather than the band members identities and personalities has allowed the trio to remain unfettered from the expectations that arise over time with a growing fan base and critical acclaim. But, it’s only natural that you will want know more about them when you hear the sounds they produce.
All Fell Silent, Everything Went Quiet was produced entirely by the band – the recording, engineering, mastering, and cover art. Recorded over 2018 and 2019, the albums 10 tracks juxtapose the melodic sounds of shoegaze with harsh black metal vocals. The vocals, resting low in the mix, serve as a caustic sound against the soothing guitars, bass, drums, and keyboards. Before the vocals enter on any track, you can hear echos of Joy Division or My Bloody Valentine. Of course, everything changes when the serrated edges of the vocals cut through.
The vocal approach means that understanding the lyrics is a fool’s errand. What’s more, understanding the songs in a typical verse-chorus-verse song structure is also difficult. To appreciate the songs on this album, you have to let go of those ingrained constructs and just let the music wash over you. And while there are several layers to each song, it’s hardly a difficult listening experience. Rather, it is one that both challenges and rewards your interest.
Tracks like “I Became You” and “Everlasting” have soaring crescendo’s on top of tightly wound instrumentation. Sometimes it’s bright keyboards, like on “Water’s Edge,” or the driving guitars of “None More Pale” that keep things diverse just when you think you’ve wrapped your head around it. Pummeling double bass (“Paths,” “Silver”), glistening guitar tones (“The Failing Senses”), and even delicate pianos (“Distance”) all make appearances throughout the albums 37-minute run time and provide unexpected, but totally natural pairings to the bands aesthetic. Of course, if you’re craving more monolithic sounds (“Craving Silence,” and the title track), you’re covered on that, too.
Throughout the album it becomes clear that trying to break it down into simple terms is a daunting task. It’s best described as a collage of alternative and extreme music. Not really a little bit of everything, but a pastiche of styles that aren’t immediately complimentary, but come together to produce something unique – without sounding forced or contrived. This wouldn’t be possible if the band wasn’t made up of skilled musicians who know exactly how to execute their vision. This is an exciting release that should gain listeners from a variety of preferences and convert them to devotees.
– J. Kevin Lynch