Over the last twelve years, the Netherlands-based blackgaze trio An Autumn For Crippled Children have written and released nine full-length albums, and despite their prolific span of releases, they have managed to maintain a great degree of secrecy. Their mystique and musical prowess has garnered them great admiration in the underground, and despite their reverence, they are still yet to perform live. Their ninth album, As The Morning Dawns We Close Our Eyes, sees them continue to hone their ability to craft an atmosphere that manages to float between joyous and melancholy, with musical flairs that can make you feel claustrophobic or calm in equal measure. Bandleader Mchl brings forth a barrage of frozen cries to juxtapose the warmth of his guitar lines, and with him are bassist Td and drummer Chr. All three together juggle keyboards alongside their respective instruments.
The melody brought forward by the keyboards is placed expertly across the record, accenting moments of extremity with a touch of beauty and some vintage synthetics. The primary example of this, to me, is the second track on the album, ‘Of Your Light’ which see the keys front and centre with a stunning piano line atop a churning riff and mechanically unrelenting programmed drums. The punch of each note echoes through you and carries the flow of the song fantastically.
Td and Chr are fantastic across the record; incredibly malleable and consistently serving the song. Be it mid-tempo rock beats or galloping black metal, the turns of pace are flavourful and remain exciting upon repeat listens as a result. As touched upon earlier, the programmed drums add a mechanical precision that is unrelenting. In some instances, the lack of humanity can be off-putting, but in the case of AAFCC I find this only further enhances the sense of frosty isolation they covey with their music.
Mchl’s vocal delivery throughout this record is incredibly powerful, the cold and distant production adding to the raw intensity of it all. He manages to convey massive emotion with his savage screams, shredding his throat with every syllable. His musical compositions compliment his voice greatly, counteracting the harshness of the vocal with layered clean dual guitars. The best example is the title track. A simple instrumental that vomits into an array of unhuman gurgles and triumphant arpeggios that erupt into a sea of bile. Simply delightful.
This is a great album. AAFCC are firing on all cylinders, and if you are a fan of blackgaze or extreme music generally then this is definitely worth your time. Whilst not as sonically refined as bands like Deafheaven or Alcest, the musicianship and songwriting ability is undeniable. My only qualm is that I feel it ends too soon. Clocking out in just over half an hour, the album doesn’t overstay its welcome. This may come as a respite to some potential listeners, but I am repeatedly surprised by its end. This minor gripe aside, I cannot recommend it enough.
As The Morning Dawns We Close Our Eyes is out now via Prosthetic Records and available for purchase via Bandcamp.