There has been a nice wave of metal lately seemingly designed to make us feel all the feelings. And, of course, a lot of that gets rejected by metal folk because we have frozen hearts and do not experience things such as sadness, frustration, and depression. Right? Yeah. Some people are a little too tough guy for their own good.
Anyway, if you’re not one who gets your bullet belt all twisted at the mere mention of a band such as Deafheaven, Alcest, Lantlos, or Amesoeurs, then you’ll be thrilled to know that mysterious Dutch band An Autumn for Crippled Children have returned with another helping of wholly emotional, feeling-infused black metal that could make anyone vulnerable cry and thrash the head at the same time. “The Long Goodbye” is the band’s first record since 2013’s toppling “Try Not to Destroy Everything You Love” and is their fifth serving overall. It’s as darkly colorful as it is heavy, with the band mixing in elements of indie rock along with their fire-breathing metallic tendencies. If you’ve been on board with the band over the long haul, you’ll know what to expect. That’s not a bad thing, really, because the band has a formula that works, and they don’t try to be anything they aren’t.
As noted, we don’t know much about the figures behind this music. There are three members—MXM on vocals, guitars, and keyboards; TXT on bass and keyboards; and CXC on drums—who all have been on board since the band’s 2010 debut record “Lost,” and any effort to try to cultivate any more facts will leave you in a corner. By who cares who they are, really? Their quest for secrecy should be embraced and it never feels like it’s done to drum up publicity. They’ve done their thing well for a long time, existing in something of a vacuum, and “The Long Goodbye” proves they’re very much still onto a good thing that keeps on giving to its audience.
The title cut opens the record, infusing charged-up melodies, deep, harsh shrieks, and colorful, brutal playing into the formula. Keys later drip into the picture to add depth, while the back end darkens even more, the track blows wide open, and the final moments gush with power. “Converging Towards the Light” feels murky and foggy at the start, with a black metal-style assault eventually running roughshod. There also is a psychedelic sheen to all of this, as the song changes colors before our eyes, from bright hues to pure darkness. “A New Form of Stillness” doesn’t sound very fittingly named the way it speeds with intensity from the gates. The vocals are savage and bristle above the thick wall of sound, created with guitar lines that bleed emotion, airy passages that let atmospherics play a role, and more vocals that sound like they were squeezed from MXM’s heart. “Only Skin” has a cold, science lab feel to it, as the icy melodies chill your blood and the expression of darkness wells to flood level. This song sometimes feels like the Cure and Xasthur doing battle, reveling in hopelessness and finding ways to express that in both beauty and horror. “When Night Leaves Again” has some breezy work that might make it feel like a cool evening, but then things get punchy, as the tempos pick up, the ugliness finds a ravaging new level, and the vocals sound pained and in agony. Every element blazes brightly on this song, which could have you covering your eyes to quell your sensitivity.
“She’s Drawing Mountains” begins in clean waters, with synth rising up like a cloud and obscuring your vision and the track eventually tearing open when you least expect it. The vocals are savage and forceful, with the band following suit, allowing everything to ease up for just a moment before it explodes anew. “Endless Skies” has some programmed beats making things feel chilled out to start, but as you may have guessed, the serenity doesn’t last for long. Guitars begin their rampage, with melodies cascading, layers of glimmering sound floating, and the band finding another level of emotional expression. “Gleam” feels a little poppy when it opens up, something to get you going and moving before the eruption strikes. Everything here is spewed at you, mesmerizing you with sound and cutting you apart with penetrating growls. Closer “The Sleep of Rust” begins a little slower, with the tempo feeling calculating and moody, the track getting heavier all of a sudden, and then things returning to the stratosphere. We eventually rush back to heavier sections, letting the band agitate the fires one more time before it dissolves into a section that gives off a nostalgic, late-night feel, where you coast off into the ether.
An Autumn for Crippled Children keep building their cauldron of sadness and emotion, and this fifth record is as good as anything else in their catalog. Just because it’s not fire-breathing ferocity doesn’t strip it of its impact, and this record can devastate you as much as anything. “The Long Goodbye” is another strong building block on this band’s dark journey.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/aafcc2009
To buy the album, go here: http://wickermanrec.bigcartel.com/
For more on the label, go here: http://www.wickermanrec.com/