Review: An Autumn for Crippled Children – Closure
Sad Boy Fall is just around the corner.
Dutch atmospheric, post-black metal, and shoegaze outfit An Autumn For Crippled Children are gearing up to drop their tenth studio album Closure on August 4th, 2023. Coming via Prosthetic Records, this entry from the veteran post-metalers is not to be missed. For those who are fans of groups like Deafheaven, Alcest, Jesu, and Boris, and anyone that enjoys a combination of the spacey textures of shoegaze or experimentation and deconstructive style of post-metal than definitely give this a spin.
It’s hard to believe there are three members of this group. The scale and execution of the music in this project feels like it was crafted but nothing less than an orchestra. All three members contribute keys to the record. MCHL’s contributions to guitar and vocals add both a sense of dread and a simultaneously peaceful, ethereal quality. The rhythms of the record as well are controlled and held down spectacularly in the drum and bass department. TD’s melodic bass playing and the multifaceted drumming of CHR are integral to the album’s emotional impact. All three members are absolutely essential to this record and act as a sort of shoegazey hivemind, hell bent on mind controlling the listener.
Opening track “Missed” is a beautiful and chilling fusion between black metal, prog and emo. The vocals are pained and full of misery, compounded by the sublime guitarwork. “I See You… but Never Clearly” is a ghoulish and entrancing number, that fully utilizes the elements of post-metal and shoegaze that AAFCC craft this record with. The keys really add a whole other element to this track. A neoclassical flare colors the 4th entry of the album with “Where Pain Begins”. The guitar work creates a dissonant, unholy union with the crunchy, lo-fi feel of the drums. It’s visceral and atmospheric in every sense.
“This Feels Like Dying” is a turning point for the album as a whole. This track kickstarts the second portion of the record and puts the pieces into place for some of its absolute shining moments. From the explosive opening to its otherworldly ending, it sounds like the soundtrack to someone ascending to another plane of being—Completely otherworldly and cathartic, truly agonizing yet blissful. This sonic journey is continued in “As the Void”. It’s a melancholic identity crisis backed by a diminished toned musical accompaniment. It’s equally as beautiful as it is brutal and horrifying. “Closure” continues the themes of the last two tracks and brings the second section of the project to a close in a memorable way. Continuing the duality of the last two cuts, it simultaneously sounds triumphant and defeated. It’s the personification of surviving , accepting and finally growing and moving on. The pained shrieks and wails with the chaotic drumming, soaring guitars and immersive keys create such a powerful statement.
“For Tomorrow” is brutal, dark, hopeless and unforgiving. The third section of the record begins here. With the weight of the last part of the album, these next few tracks feel like a bit of a falling off point. “Unable to Feel You” and “Culpable” are similarly strong cuts but don’t really stand out in the greater scope of the project. However, the sadistic and enigmatic “Here Comes Sorrow” dials up the progressive elements and acts as a fitting finale.
While post-metal is certainly a niche genre in the grander scheme of the metal-sphere, and the shoegaze elements might not be for everyone, it’s absolutely impossible not to acknowledge the musical ingenuity on display in this project. An Autumn for Crippled Children have outdone themselves and deserve a lot of acclaim and attention for their efforts. There are a few lulls and bits that feel unnecessary, but those occurrences are few and far between. The vibes, changes, songwriting, spectacle, performances and sheer presence of this record makeup for its few shortcomings in spades. This is one hundred percent worth a listen.
Standout tracks: “This Feels Like Dying”, “As the Void”, & “Closure”
4/5 Flaming Toilets ov Hell
An Autumn For Crippled Children’s Closure is out on August 4th via Prosthetic Records.