An Autumn for Crippled Children: Everything

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An Autumn for Crippled Children: Everything
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An Autumn for Crippled Children: Everything
Depressive Black Metal, Doom Metal
ATMF Records
September 6th, 2011
Release length: 43:41
Myspace
Following the heels of their debut offering, Lost, An Autumn for Crippled Children returned to the studio to bring us their second full-length release, Everything. With a good mixture of people praising or bashing the previous outing, it was clear the band really had to sit down and work on their more experimental depressive sound to win over a good amount of possible fans. Sticking with their label of ATMF Records, this Netherlands act is receiving pretty much the exact same kind of reception from critics and fans of Metal alike. but, is Everything really another album of the same expectations, or has the group taken what little time existed between the album to fine-tune their sound and weave a stronger release this time around?

Sticking with the common audio sounds of today’s Depressive Black Metal style, Everything boasts a rawer production quality, but not too much that it sounds analog. The audio actually seems to meet between a modern sound and a rawer analog approach, and that’s just fine as it stands out a little more and gives the music a nice edge while accentuating the depressive traits of the sound. The keyboards stand strong and definitely make use of the somewhat muddier production quality to set the atmosphere, as do the heavy bass that comes through loud and booming to accompany the sharper guitars that benefit in that aspect from the overall sound as well. The drums sound great with a heavy thud on the bass kicks, clear and loud snares, and cymbols that feel a little further back in the mix which helps to further establish the mood. The vocals, however, are basically drowned out completely, coming through in a whisper level despite being screamed with heavy distortion. It’s not a bad idea, but as you go through the release and finally realize they are there and what they sound like, they actually become annoying as all hell since they just sound like random spells of white noise that really is not necessary and in no way seems to match the environment of the album’s music at all. “Formlessness” is the perfect example, and is really when you’ll notice this release has vocals. The music here is fantastic and enthralling until you realize the background vocals and you can’t ignore them anymore, ving no benefit whatsoever to the song other then perhaps the sense of it being wind screaming, and despite the colder, melancholic sound of the track, they just feel like they’re not needed here.

But, luckily this isn’t every track. “Absence of Contrast” brings the volume of the vocals up to a louder level which really does help the song and atmosphere out, allowing it to sound more like a screaming ghostly wail instead of more distant wind that serves no purpose and is too low to really enhance the cold, icey musical concept of the tracks. But the more absent the vocals are, the better the music seems to be. The first track, “Forever Never Fails” does have vocals, but they are hard to pick up on in the first listen due to how far back in the mix they are. The music itself is a monster, having cold and grim slower passages mixed with relentless Black Metal fury that is unquestionable, mixing perfectly with the melancholic keyboards to give the track a colder feel. It doesn’t end up like a Depressive Black Metal song, so it doesn’t quite set the mood for the rest of the release, but the song is just a fantastic showcase of the intensity the band brings with them for Everything, simply being a well composed and performed cold and brutal Black Metal track with the exception of the vocals that do feel more at home here and are far more limited, but still don’t do much given their volume. Had they been set to around the same level as “Absence of Contrast”, this song would be an absolute Black Metal masterpiece, and it’s sad that it comes out this way.

As you continue through Everything, the album starts to show that there isn’t too much to offer the listener. It’s not that every song sounds similar to another, but you will start to feel like you’ve heard the layout of the songs before. Each song seemsa to having some heavy atmospheric Black Metal, and some softer depressive passages with more acoustic sounding guitars and keyboards, maybe the bass, which happens on every song. This part does get a bit repetitive. The vocals also somewhat vary, and it depends on the performance. There’s a spoken word passage on “We All Fall” that comes through a little louder then the screaming, more due to the slower nature of the music and it’s focus on the more depressing atmosphere. But some of the screaming can vary as well. “Nothing/Everything” for example seems a little louder, though not quite like “Absence of Contrast”, and that’s more because it feels like a bit more energetic of a performance in comparison to “Forever Never Fails” and “We All Fall”.

One thing that does stand out on many songs, though not on all outside of the slower passages, is the bass. “Her Dress as a Poem, Her Death as the Night” has such a great bass performance to it that really dominates the song and cascades it into deeper Doom Metal-like mourning to go with depressive atmosphere of the really trudging, crushing song. There are other bass performances here that stand out, like with “Formlessness”, but it in no way comes off like this track. “I Am the Veil” also stands out a bit with the vocals, more because of the clean singing that happens, which is also at the same lower volume as the screams, put up against a stronger Black Metal song that doesn’t really seem too focused on atmosphere as it does just being a traditional Black Metal song with a heavy bass presence. These two make up the last tracks that really will give any interest to the listener, and even that isn’t saying much considering the constant similar foundations, the exact same vocal approach outside of varying levels of energy that do change the volume up a bit, and later songs that aren’t filler but really are just not that interesting beyond the point of “Her Dress as a Poem, Her Death as a Night”, as well as “We All Fall”.

So, while the band has done a better job time around, this time the more solid material becomes a little more formulaic. There are some really phenomenal songs on here like “Forever Never Fails,” “Absence of Contrast,” and even “her Dress as a Poem, Her Death as the Night,” but eventually the music just starts to show signs of other tracks and, while not filler and they typically do have a little bit of a unique trait to them to keep them from feeling more rehashed then their foundations are, the songs just start to lose their impact due to these faults, as well as the volume level and how little an effect they have on some of the songs. While it’s clear An Autumn for Crippled Children put their best foot forward, and with the song “Her Dress as a Poem, Her Death as the Night”, that becomes pretty clear, and even makes you wish the band would dabble more in the Doom Metal side of things. But, for now, Everything stands as an album for a band who took one step forward, and one step back.

01. Forever Never Fails – 5:13
02. Formlessness – 5:13
03. Absence of Contrast – 4:06
04. We All Fall – 5:56
05. Nothing/Everything – 5:31
06. Her Dress as a Poem, Her Death as the Night – 4:36
07. I Am the Veil – 4:20
08. Cold Spring – 4:15
09. Rain – 4:41
Overall Score: 7/10


Digital review copy of this release provided by ATMF Records.