Review Summary: Blending all of their knowledge, AAFCC create a breathtaking journey through the bleak and the melancholic, reaching the highest point of maturation as a band to this date
Coming from the Netherlands, the three-piece black metal band which members are still unknown kept evolving their sound slowly but inexorably. The hopeless feeling that permeated the debut Lost
grew into a more melancholic sound release after release culminating in 2013's Try Not To Destroy Everything You Love
that showcased the band at its most shoegaze. What brought that release down was the fact that it felt too grand for its own good, a thing apparently known by the band. That is said because The Long Goodbye
totally feels like a release that went through a period of intense thinking. In fact, here we are presented the band's most focused, polished and satisfying release.
What immediately strikes the listener is the stellar production that sustains the album. Everything is perfectly audible, and every layer crashes with the others to create a perfectly controlled chaotic cacophony. The distorted guitar riffs create an intense atmosphere and the tremolo parts never fail to freeze the listener on the spot. The drums are crystal clear and imperious, and the bass lines, while not as incisive as they were in Only The Ocean Knows
, provide great depth to the tracks with their energy contrasting with the sound of the occasional layer of touching keyboards. Notable are also the vocals, still distorted and fiercer than ever. Being hard to imagine them coming from a human being, combined with the wide breath of the cover artwork they are perfectly married to the music.
If each previous release had its distinctive sound, in The Long Goodbye
the band masterfully blends them all together. Atmospheric black metal meets shoegaze, progressive and post rock elements resulting in the biggest sound the band ever pulled off. It contains Lost
's angst, the dreamy sensation of Try Not To Destroy Everything You Love
, the driving, hopeful and yet unsure atmosphere of Only The Ocean Knows
, and it contains the feeling of being alone in an immense open space just like in Everything
. The only thing lacking is the happiness that the band wanted to show for once in the Hearts Of Light | Blossoms
However, The Long Goodbye
doesn't limit itself to inheritance. This is in fact home for some of the band's most moving sequences. The more direct first half sees the band performing at their most energetic and straightforward ("The Long Goodbye," "A New Form of Stillness"), while the more mellow second half houses some of the most melancholic melodies the band has ever recorded ("She's Drawing Mountains"). All of the above while reaching new levels of experimentation towards post rock. Finally, the variety contained makes the album highly replayable and ideal for a complete listen, which is also where it really shines.
It is surprising how fresh this album sounds, especially after the saturated Try Not To Destroy Everything You Love
, and the capacity of staying true to themselves without sounding repetitive is at least commendable. What An Autumn For Crippled Children have crafted is not only their fifth LP, it is their biggest milestone yet . One for which they should be proud, but that will also challenge them as a band. The musical sum of a career worked this time, but will the next album be varied enough to avoid being stale?