The Rickety Old Shack

An Autumn For Crippled Children — Eternal

Earlier this year, it was revealed that the group's follow-up to The Long Goodbye was already recorded and simply awaiting release. Out of the blue, on August 27th, Eternal arrived on Bandcamp with absolutely no warning — as is the band's custom. An Autumn For Crippled Children are as prolific as they are mysterious, dropping an average of one album and an EP each year, and doing exactly zero promotion. I mention this only to assure you that everything seems to be in order, and this long-standing project offers up another 10 tracks of their distinctive brand of blackened, atmospheric metal.

After giving Eternal its first listening, I was immediately impressed. As noted in my previous reviews of AAFCC, the core components of the group's sound has never changed much, if at all, throughout their existence. Each album is another step in the refinement process of their synth-heavy, amalgam of buzzing black metal guitars, wretched vocals and emotive post-hardcore passages. Each album and EP the group has released has featured better song-writing and focus, though the material all definitely sounds like it came from the same group. Eternal showcases the the band's most mature compositions yet, with the perfect balance of desolation and solid grooves.

The opening track, "Eternal Youth" has a really strong bass line that anchors the song, while "Swallowed by Night's Despair" highlights AAFCC's excellent use of piano, with it's driving opening and catchy opening riff. Each piece stands out a lot more than on the group's previous efforts, which is where I really notice the improvements in the song writing; prior albums did suffer a bit from the interchangeability of each track. Eternal manages to feature more distinctive songs than previous efforts. This is less a criticism of the project's past efforts as it is a compliment towards their current work.

As a big fan of listening to albums from beginning to end, groups like AAFCC get a bit more leeway from me than perhaps the average listener would afford them. I enjoy how their albums are paced, with emotional ebbs and flows to the track listing — never stacking too many songs in a row with too smiliar a cadence and aesthetic. The production on Eternal is excellent and, as with everything else, just a few notches better than their previous efforts. It's been very enjoyable, following this project as they refine their craft and produce better, tighter material with each release.

I very much enjoyed last year's The Long Goodbye (review), and Eternal is an even better follow-up album than I could have expected — the band really seems to be hitting their stride. For fans of the atmospheric side of the black metal offshoot genres, AAFCC have been delivering the goods for a long time now, and this album is a positive sign of things to come. Easily the group's best work yet, I've given Eternal more initial repeat listens than any of their previous efforts.

Summary

If you are at all familiar with An Autumn For Crippled Children then, to a degree, you know what to expect. Eternal features the group doing exactly what they are known for, albeit with more precision and craft this time around. A solid collection of material from an ever-improving group. The atmospheric qualities of the album are strong, with each song setting its own tone and pacing, while switching between catchy grooves and desolate, vast instrumental passages. Well worth a look, especially if you've enjoyed the group's past efforts.

Album Information

Release date: March 1st, 2016
Record label: Independent / self-released

Michl — vocals, guitar, keyboards
TD — bass, keyboards
Chr — drums

Track Listing

  1. Eternal Youth
  2. I Will Never Let You Die
  3. On Fire
  4. Farewell
  5. This Small Space You Occupied Is So Empty Now
  6. You Have Been In The Shadows For So Long
  7. Days Of Sleep
  8. Swallowed by Night's Despair
  9. Cloud Mood
  10. Matters Of Heart

—by Derek

Published: August 28th, 2016