Monday, 17 May 2010

An Autumn For Crippled Children - Lost (2010) 80/100.

An annoying pet peeve of mine that I’ve never been able to shake off is the fact that the aesthetic touches of a band must appeal to me before I check them out, otherwise it may take a long time before I finally give into peer pressure and listen to a band who doesn’t automatically press my buttons, or deal with my cravings for eye catching aspects. A band with poetic song titles, beautiful artwork and other such elements will almost always be a priority in my eyes, as opposed to a band which doesn’t possess those qualities. When I was initially directed towards Holland’s three piece An Autumn For Crippled Children, I must admit that I discredited and pigeon holed them due to my obsession with ideal aesthetics. Whilst the artwork for this full-length debut, entitled ‘Lost’, is intriguing enough, the band name was off-putting and something I’d consider an odd choice as it is taken from a song by an obscure British gothic band called Ebonylake. According to the musicians themselves, the title “fits” their music and atmosphere well. I suppose I can, in the oddly experimental sections, hear purity being drained away and innocence being left behind for anger, depression and hatred.

I find the keyboards, provided by the bands talisman MXM, are one of the primary aspects that make me feel this way. They come in a standardised piano sound which brushes aside the purity and replaces it with an overwhelming sense of melancholy. Although the keyboards don’t play a pivotal role all the way through this 50 minute plus affair, they are affective when they do come into play and shape the atmosphere well alongside the cleaner guitars, also provided by MXM. I found it strange that the band suggest ‘Lost’ is a combination of second wave black metal influences and old school death/doom sounds because this isn’t what I got out of the experience at all. The bands description deals with the depressive side of the sound first and foremost, but An Autumn For Crippled Children are about so much more than just regulation depressive black metal. In fact, when the elements are taken apart like a car, we can evidently see that the different aspects of the sound function in varied ways and this causes ‘Lost’ to be less than typical the longer it goes on.

For instance, the vocals, though more honest about their black metal roots, do not take too typical a sound on. In some of the songs, like ‘Tragedy Bleed All Over The Lost’, the vocals are introduced in a low, almost barely noticeable hissing fashion, though this doesn’t continue for long. To me, the harsher the vocals become, the more they begin to sound like that of Dave Hunt from the British industrial black metal/grindcore band Anaal Nathrakh. They’re probably not quite as at home with An Autumn For Crippled Children as they are Anaal Nathrakh, given the schizophrenic nature of the latter bands sound, but they do a commendable job alongside the harsher aspects and are thankfully omitted when the cleaner parts come into the picture.. To me, this is an unusual ploy for a band who’re supposedly depressive black metal, though the description does suggest they’re experimental and it is in these small, but noticeable alterations from the standard that the band become more and more challenging. The focus is where it should be -- on song writing, as opposed to an overbearing presence of the guitars. The music is varied, but still manages to sound fluid despite the unusual combinations of influences for this brand of music.

Some might even suggest, in terms of the cleaner guitars and audible bass, that An Autumn For Crippled Children have a slightly post-rockish feel to their sound, though this may be where the old school doom metal vibes come into play with languid build-ups and shimmering guitar effects on songs like ‘A Dire Faith’, which points to bands like Anathema and My Dying Bride as the inspiration behind the doomier atmospherics which are fronted primarily by the soaring guitar melodies and soft keyboard textures. The early 90’s feel is apparent on occasions, though I get the impression the band were more focused on writing cohesive songs, as opposed to relying on memorable riffs whilst neglecting the positive influence the bass, in particular, could have on the atmosphere. During songs like ‘A Dire Faith’, aspects like the bass become more standardised than before, taking on repetitious structures alongside the heavy, bludgeoning guitar distortion, which cuts deep into the brain like razor wire. Repetitious songs aren’t beyond An Autumn For Crippled Children, but they do prefer to mix things up by implementing slower, doomier sections, melodic keyboards and floating ambiance. All in all, I appreciate the fact that the band are attempting something slightly different and although it is largely successful, a tighter ship could still be run and more memorable atmospherics conjured.


  1. I think i'll enjoy this one. Thanks!

  2. Review Finnr's Cane!

  3. You'll be glad to hear I will be reviewing that soon. Probably next week in fact!