An Autumn For Crippled Children
Try Not To Destroy Everything You Love
01. Autumn Again
02. The Woods Are On Fire
03. Never Complete
04. Try Not To Destroy Everything You Love
05. Hearts of Light
06. Sepia Mountains For Her Lament
08. Avoiding Winter
09. Starlit Spirits
Black metal, post-rock, and new wave have been intimate with each other for some time. There’s something about fuzzy guitars, dreamy atmospheric melodies, and a certain frostbitten tenacity that just works well together, and with every year, the genres get even more incestuous and daring in their experimentation. Just take a look around; post-black progenitors Alcest are metamorphosing into dream pop, Deafheaven are getting more romantic in their longing soundscapes, and Altar of Plagues went out in a swan-song of vicious tremolo-picked melodies and industrial grooves. It could be argued that the fringes of black metal influenced music is one of the most interesting developments we’ve seen in extreme underground music lately, and few bands encompass the possibilities of this movement quite like An Autumn For Crippled Children.
The group’s fourth album Try Not To Destroy Everything You Love is almost strange in the way it approaches black metal. In lieu of the run-of-the-mill Wolves in the Throne Room worship with over-utilized tremolo picking and earthy textures that helped define the genre, An Autumn For Crippled Children instead align themselves with the Altar of Plagues school of thought, albeit with much less subtlety and much more optimism. Guitar has been downplayed to a mere auxiliary instrument, sometimes only heard ringing out in the background during the album’s more heated moments. Instead, Try Not To Destroy Everything You Love is mainly rooted in electronics, with layered synth pads, keyboard leads, and programmed drums being the primary means of instrumentation. This isn’t necessarily anything new in and of itself, but the extent in which synths are used gives the record an avant-garde vibe alongside some interesting melodic choices.
Try Not To Destroy Everything You Love is by no means bleak, even when accounting for the tortured throaty screams from frontman “mchl.” This is a record filled with massively uplifting and ethereal synth pop compositions that are dynamic in flow and devastating in their delivery. For instance, ‘Autumn Again’ sets the stage with a boisterous post-punk bassline and droning symphonic keys, where ‘Closer‘ and ‘Starlit Spirits’ approach progressive territory further with adept piano solos twinkling over bright chord progressions. These might as well be black metal love songs, but aren’t nearly as hokey as the prospect sounds. In fact, Try Not To Destroy Everything You Love resonates with the listener on several levels through masterful songwriting and progressive musicianship. Your heart may just skip a beat.
Where this style of musicianship would otherwise be too glossy to pass off as any sort of blackened metal, Try Not To Destroy Everything You Love gets a helping hand from some muddled and gritty production. Details are often obscured under heavy amounts of fuzz, and while that’s generally an undesirable aesthetic choice, it works wonderfully in context. This allows for the lush synths to ring out over the guitars in a conjugated mass of sound. The textbook black metal shrieks sell this as a black metal record as well, and even when the music gets too poppy, there’s still an overall sense of anguish buried underneath.
There’s just a sense of odd yet beautiful wonder about Try Not To Destroy Everything You Love that makes it stand out as one of the best releases from 2013. Deafheaven’s Sunbather seemed to be the hit to beat when it comes to romanticized and dreamy black metal this year, and while An Autumn For Crippled Children will likely never be able to achieve that amount of hype, they certainly deserve just as much praise, if not more for their work on Try Not To Destroy Everything You Love. It’s hard to be surprised this late in the year, when many already have their best-of lists set in stone. Perhaps it’s time to rethink yours.
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An Autumn For Crippled Children – Try Not To Destroy Everything You Love gets…