Today on Angry Metal Guy we’re pleased to present you with some depressive, experimental doom black… wait, are those pink orchids? How adorable! It’s times like this that question whether I was destined to be a flower-arranger rather than a metal reviewer [A Morbid Florist?? — Steel Druhm], but thanks to the adventurous forays of An Autumn for Crippled Children (AAfCC herein), I can finally embrace the idea of being both.
Disingenuity aside, I have quite a weakness for the recent influx of shoegaze-influenced black metal bands, and AAfCC has been one of the few projects that keeps delivering great material. For those with a hankering for a perfectly balanced mix of prettiness and melancholy, it really fills that void. Not only does it hold some catchy and accessible tunes, but all of the band’s music is instantly recognizable and unique. In terms of mood, you can hear bands like Alcest and Woods of Desolation‘s later material, but it’s apparent that this is a beast of its own. It’s a wonderful mix of familiar and refreshing, and the unique take on the relatively young genre has made this project one of the few that I’d implore anyone to watch closely, and this record re-enforces that sentiment.
On “Try Not to Destroy Everything you Love,” AAfCC are prettier and more sentimental than they’ve ever been before. The synths and electronics are bigger than ever, with much more emphasis on layering rather than letting simplistic melodies domineer the tracks. It has broad electronic strings, delicate piano and everything in-between. The obvious drum machine is expertly fused with the mix and isn’t at all a distraction. The bass steals the show with lines that become the melodic emphasis of almost every piece; an asset the band flaunts oh-so-pleasingly.
The stronger songs are the ones that let the bass shine through the thick bright haze of over-distorted guitar and layered synth. Even with the guitars being more of a reverbed rhythm backdrop, they still know when to pull out of the fog and play an infectious lead. The vocals are pushed further back than ever before, the rasps being so far in the background that they’re almost easy to ignore, but with the wealth of layers occuring at any given time it doesn’t feel like its a deficiency.
However, it’s structurally where I feel this all falls down. Many songs seem like a copy of their older records and the way several songs end abruptly with the reverb ringing out is something AAFCC has done on every album. While there’s nothing explicitly wrong with the way many these tunes are structured, it would have been great to see more of an effort to distinguish the new material from previous works.
At least in terms of production the album showcases its layers pleasingly, with everything being easy to distinguish, though more in the way of dynamics would have been welcome. Regardless, individual tracks still shine through as some of the best this project has given us so far. The beautifully delicate tones of “Sepia Mountains for Her Lament” is uncompromisingly gorgeous, and the beautiful, droney atmosphere of “Never Complete” is just so warm and pleasurable. The few songs that take a different approach, such as the title track that sounds as little like black metal as it possibly can, still succeed.
Try Not to Destroy Everything You Love is a fairly adventurous affair littered with small things you don’t think would work in the context it creates for itself – but do. There’s a distinct departure from the oppressive tones of Lost and there are many things this album does well, even though it’s essentially a carbon copy of the last record with minor improvements. It proves its worth and it’s a very pleasing listen. If nothing else, we have to thank AAfCC for proving that you can make shoegazy black metal with a bittersweet, nostalgic feel while avoiding the “sad person lamenting beneath a lonely streetlight” vibe. Bringing some colour to our grey longing – long live the orchids.
Label: ATMF Records
Websites: anautumnforcrippledchildren.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/pages/An-Autumn-For-Crippled-Children
Release Dates: Out Worldwide on 12.02.2013