An Autumn for Crippled Children - The Long Goodbye 01Three consecutive releases reviewed by three different writers on AMG? This must be unheard of. Carving a little niche as one of the better and more evocative offshoots from the much-maligned ‘blackga(y)ze’ genre, An Autumn for Crippled Children have produced their fifth full-length in the beautifully desolate The Long Goodbye. Still as mournful as their titular season and child welfare status and yet uplifting as though hope is breaking through the oppressive clouds, everything that you liked before is here. I really can’t review this badly since I feel they absolutely nail the style that they strive for – this is the best work AAfCC has produced – but there is a distinct feeling that the Angry Metal Guy’s Law of Diminishing Recordings™ will soon hit. This is their plateau and they must develop in order to remain relevant.

As before, AAfCC are at their melancholic best when crafting expressive soundscapes and atmospheres. The judicious deployment of synths across their oeuvre is stronger than ever here, as principle conveyors of melody. Sweeping strings and deft keys adorn all tracks and serve to afford some hope and uplift the mood, while the fuzzy guitar leads and tortured vox tussle to drag you through myriad upsetting emotions. While I feel similar bands such as Alcest have clearer highlights, their music is too emotionally safe and can feel superficial. AAfCC expertly navigates between the euphoric and the funereal, drawing on this range in crafting their ambience which is an instrument all on its own. It’s an impressive trait and one I hope they carry forward while developing their sound: “Only Skin,” “She’s Drawing Mountains” and “Endless Skies” are exemplar highlights.

Of course, more traditional metal instrumentation plays its role in crafting such atmospheres. The album opens with “The Long Goodbye,” seemingly a statement made against their critics who accuse them of flowery frivolousness and absence of heavy-hitting content. It’s comparatively synth-light and begins with a compelling if shimmering guitar lead, before breaking straight into MCHL’s agonized vocals. This is another of their key strengths and I’ve been a big fan since I first heard him in 2012. Lower in the mix than typically the case for metal, his vocals really contribute to their holistic approach, layering each individual melodic stream into their quite unique sound. The compressed rhythms and leads underpin the hazy top layer of synths and pianos, and are intrinsic to the overall effect.

An Autumn for Crippled Children - The Long Goodbye 02

It becomes apparent in structure that the current AAfCC‘s time is running short. Their musical zenith they may have hit, but structurally this is identical to their prior two releases. There has been no attempt at progression or diversity, with easily digestible songs of four to six minutes and unbending stylistic consistency. By the end of The Long Goodbye I was desiring more, a sense that the band was building to a finale. Though their songs do undergo transition, there are no real climaxes. They have produced three near-identical albums and I’ve now had my fill – if ever I’m in the mood for this style of music, I already have three reference points. Though I love what’s been achieved here through subtle improvements, I don’t need more of the same, and I won’t be so kind to future releases if unchanged.

The production is executed well. The mixing and mastering balances proceedings wonderfully, lending a pleasing fuzziness and contributing to the uplifting side of the music. Audiophiles may complain at the limited dynamic range and lack of instrumental accentuation, but the balanced amalgamation of sounds is part of their atmospheric success.

There is no doubt in my mind that The Long Goodbye is AAfCC‘s best work, achieved through minor improvements across their last three releases. They generate a encapsulating effect where you don’t just hear their music, but become situated in it. However, they now need to innovate or they will stagnate. There is an opportunity to progressively develop here and I hope it is taken.


Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Wickerman Recordings
WebsitesAnAutumnforCrippledChildrenOfficial | Facebook.com/AAfCC
Release Dates: Worldwide: 02.23.2015

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  • Why did we not unicom shame these guys??

    • El_Cuervo

      There are three vaguely outlined men… The thought crossed my mind but they do atleast have something. Plus we have their totally revealing names – MCHL, TD and CHR.

      • Grymm

        So they are Muchool, Tid, and Cher, respectively?

        • El_Cuervo

          I was thinking Merchel, Terd and Chrer

          • Grymm

            ERMERGERRRRRD!!!

    • Monsterth Goatom

      The band is stealing your Thunder. The middle person actually looks like a woman. If you you look above her left shoulder there’s a unicorn with its head upraised.

  • Monsterth Goatom

    I was thinking of Angry Metal Guy’s Law of Diminishing Recordings™ when I saw that Witherscape released a new album, but one that’s mainly covers. Apparently it’s a stop-gap measure while they work on new material, but still. It will be something to see if they can top The Inheritance. Ditto for Riot V and Unleash the Fire and Darkest Era’s Severance. Crossing my fingers that the respective bands can at least equal those home runs.

    • The Witherscape was just a short EP with a few covers so we didn’t review it, but it’s actually a fun listen.
      I give Riot all the credit in the world just for bouncing back with such a great album. I can’t hope for much more than they already gave us, but I’m always going to support them.

      • Monsterth Goatom

        For sure. Didn’t want to imply that I’d turn my back on Riot if they release another album that doesn’t move me. They’ve been at it a long time.

      • De2013

        I agree on the Witherscape EP. I’ve just listened to it a few times yet; I ordered it together with other cd’s which got more air time. So much music, so little time :-0

        I really like the reinterpretation of the song that was on the first record (dead for another day).

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    Good review, but in principle I disagree with your comments about the band being on borrowed time unless they re-invent or progress. If this is as you say their strongest work it would be potentially disastrous for them to mess with their song writing style or sounds for the sake appearing to do something new.
    I admire bands that are confident enough too ignore fashion and stick to the business of nailing their style. Imagine if after Iron Fist someone had got in Lemmy’s ear and convinced him that Motorhead should ‘progress’ or diversify, introduce some slap bass or go glam…

    • Jean-Luc Ricard

      OMG I would love to hear Motörhead with funky slap bass

      • Carlos Marrickvillian

        whilst hopping up and down with a baseball cap…it’s sacrilege!

        • Jean-Luc Ricard

          I was thinking more along the lines of going Bootsy style…

          • Carlos Marrickvillian

            A chill just ran down my spine

          • Grymm

            “BOOTSY! He’s from Mars!”

            -Beavis

    • El_Cuervo

      They can continue as they’re doing but it won’t interest me. They’ve made subtle changes but this is largely the same as 3 releases ago. If they release a similar record again then I wouldn’t bother to give it any more than 1 listen to see what it was, since this release has nullified their prior releases by being the same but just a little bit better. What’s the point of having an entire discography if I will only be referring to this from now on?

      I get your point, but this band isn’t quite good or innovative enough to ride this style forever in my opinion.

  • perogrullo

    Couldn’t agree more with El Cuervo. I have been a fan of these guys since the amazing Everything album, a peak in post-whatever-metal. But they seem to be running out of those edgy, eyebrow-raising moments which worked so well on the first three albums… TLG sounds like a mere TNTDEYL part II to me when I was expecting an U-turn in the vein of what they did on the OTOK album. AAFCC is a pretty formidable act, anyway.

  • xengineofdeathx

    This has been on repeat for me over the last few hours, only skin might be one of my favorite songs of this year even though the intro throws me way off. HOWEVER, I definitely feel like this band should take a break for a few years, even though I’ve enjoyed everything they’ve done. Lost will always be their pinnacle to me, that album captured their essence perfectly. Very underrated, and awesome band, but I agree; they have to evolve.