Album Review: AN AUTUMN FOR CRIPPLED CHILDREN All Fell Silent, Everything Went Quiet
An Autumn For Crippled Children isn’t a band, it is an entire mood. That mood is morose, esoteric ennui. A numb feeling of isolation that leaves you drained and exhausted, struggling to link words together to form thoughts. Sound fun yet? Don’t worry, we’re not sure it’s supposed to…
Every decade of the last fifty years has had its own metal aesthetic. From the hedonistic 80s to the angsty 90s, to the musclebound-machismo of the 2000s—it’s when you reach the 2010s that things get muddled. Sure, plenty of great records came out in the last ten years, but there wasn’t a single sound or subgenre that unified them as ‘2010s metal’. That is, of course, unless you travel to heavy metal’s outer fringe, where a scene has been growing unchecked for years. That scene, the one An Autumn For Crippled Children find themselves entrenched in, is blackgaze.
Blackgaze, a meeting of black metal and shoegaze pioneered by Alcest and Ulver, exploded into popularity with Deafheaven’s 2013 masterpiece Sunbather. Since then the scene has diversified, flirting with mainstream ideas while remaining underground due to mammoth song runtimes and unmarketable imagery. Some, like Astronoid, abandoned blackgaze entirely for a post-metal sound. Others have gone all-in and remain extreme outliers.
An Autumn For Crippled Children do not seem like they want Billboard endorsements. But they are on the more mellow side of the blackgaze genre, featuring reasonable song lengths and a vibe that’s more The Cure then Myrkur. In fact, harsh vocals notwithstanding, it’s pretty chill. If An Autumn For Crippled Children wanted, they could make a good case for themselves as an ambient post-rock band similar to God Is An Astronaut or Explosions In The Sky. But seeing as this is album number eight (!) in less than 10 years, An Autumn For Crippled Children are just fine where they are. And that’s okay. Metal is full of bands who stick to their guns and conform to others' demands. It’s a big part of the heavy metal ethos.
Black metal thrives on lo-fi production. Blackgaze is not necessarily the same. Astronoid found great success on Air by embracing modern techniques. An Autumn For Crippled Children seem to love lo-fi though, even as they cram keyboards and ambient synth into their product. The cymbals are reduced to a static buzz. The songs, while all decent, start to blend together. That’s probably the point. But it doesn’t make All Fell Silent, Everything Went Quiet any more engaging. Still, taken individually, tracks like "I Became You" and "None More Pale" are worthy of repeat listens.
There are real issues with All Fell Silent, Everything Went Quiet. But they seem by design, rather than by accident. An Autumn For Crippled Children seem like they’re happy where they are. They’re at the front of a newer subgenre. They’ve perfected their craft over a decade of work. Other bands may change, but not them. It looks like An Autumn For Crippled Children are here to stay. Get ready, old bands. This is the future you are looking at…