Last year, we took a look at Post-Punk and New Wave’s improbable influence on metal, and the piece proves itself relevant every so often as genre lines continue to blur and get weirder. The marriage of black metal and new wave is a fascinating one that on paper should not be, but totally works; the rapid rise to acclaim enjoyed by Deafheaven is proof positive of that. Turns out, people like hearing The Cure‘s nostalgic guitar leads and New Order‘s lo-fi synthesizers over blast beats and trem-picked chord progressions.
Bands have been covering that ground for years in relative obscurity, with one act in particular pushing New Wave’s pastel colors and flamboyant aesthetics deeper into the fabric of black metal’s cold and chaotic canvas, and that’s enigmatic Dutch trio An Autumn For Crippled Children. The act have been quite prolific in their release schedule — we’ve gotten something every year since 2010 — despite just barely cracking into the online metal consciousness. We sang the praises of their latest full length The Long Goodbye, and despite my efforts in placing it as a personal Top Ten of 2015, it didn’t make the cut for our aggregate Top 50 staff list of favorites. It’s a shame, considering how highly Deafheaven’s New Bermuda ranked. In fact, you’d be hard pressed to find The Long Goodbye on any best-of list, and it’s not because the record isn’t great; it’s just that nobody heard it.
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The Long Goodbye, if given the proper time and attention, could potentially do more for the furtherance of the popular blackgaze insurgence that New Bermuda or Ghost Bath‘s Moonlover perpetuate. It’s progressive and avant garde without being overly obtuse. It’s challenging, yet accessible due to its reliance on post-rock, dream pop, and the aforementioned New Wave influences that counterbalance AAFCC’s DSBM roots. The Long Goodbye is more engaging, creative, and haunting, so what’s not to love if you’re a fan of the genre?
Of course, music is subjective and is definitely not a competition, no matter how hard we try to make it as such. However — and it’s been said before here many times — what Deafheaven are doing is interesting, to be sure, but far from groundbreaking. Not to discredit a band that I believe has earned every ounce of acclaim and notoriety that has come their way, but for all the reasons that Deafheaven (and to a lesser extent, Ghost Bath) are held up on a pedestal, An Autumn For Crippled Children have been lurking about and toying with for just as long, and in greater detail.
Looking ahead, in continued reliability, An Autumn For Crippled Children plan to drop another full-length this Summer. With details kept to a minimum, a new single titled “I will never let you die” has been made available, and it continues with the synth-heavy blackened dreamscapes crafted on their previous two full-lengths. Listen below, and consider the year ahead for black metal and whether or not it’s AAFCC’s time to shine from under New Bermuda‘s fading shadow.