Monday, August 29, 2011

An Autumn for Crippled Children - Everything (2011)

Last year's Lost was an intriguing if ultimately vapid debut album from another band exploring the arcs of atmospheric and post-rock flavor within the medium of depressive black metal. I was quite smitten with a number of the tracks, and the band's razor kissing, blissful sense for textured melody, but the album was about half attention worthy and half attention deficit. These Dutchmen fall under a similar curtain of emotional contrast to the Swedish groups Svarti Loghin and Lifelover, or perhaps the overrated French Alcest, but not so much that they could be confused for such peers. Everything, the band's sophomore, follows a different cover aesthetic than its predecessor, promising a whited out sky against which the wings of birds and the eaves of skeletal trees strain, much like the band on its course towards defining misery and light.

This time, the band have asserted a slightly more progressive approach to their writing which is far better at rounding out the various 4-5 minute track lengths. The clean, desolate guitar tones that teeter upon the precipice of warmth return, with the same curving and lovely bass lines, but the melodic insinuations feel superior from the start, and continue to excel throughout the 44 minutes of the experience. "Forever Never Falls" transforms from an airy, elegant substance to a rush of fuzzed, painful black rasping and streamed chords, and then to a proggy streak of synthesizers that erupt into another emotional, wrist cutting climax. It's not one of the best here, but it sets up a framework into which the trio thrives. "Formlessness" possesses a resonant elegance with its bridge melody; "Absence of Contrast" a delicious breakdown with bass and piano; and "Her Dress as a Poem, Her Death as the Night" an amazing sheen of melody below with a turbulent percussion ruptures the listener's sanctity.

It's quite amusing, bewitching and disturbing in equal measures, and unlike Lost, I never felt that the album quite fell off its wheels. That's not to say that there are not a few flaws holding it back from the forerunners of its niche. The vocals, in particular, while appreciably torturous, tend to drone along without much memorable structure, even if not for excess periods of time. The more spacious, droning passages are oft imbued with instant hipster freakouts that are more jarring than interesting, and I was drawn to ill memories of bands like Litury or Krallice (well below these Dutchmen in terms of quality). On the whole, though, I rather enjoyed this trip, for its fusion of unnerving dissonance and glistening, open-vein beauty. Perhaps it's not a massive stride forward in depth or value from their debut, but it's more consistently haunting.

Verdict: Win [7.25/10]

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