Having followed this band since 2010 and listened to their earlier releases of Lost and Everything, I heard very little of this release until it came out. An Autumn for Crippled Children to this point had seemed a band in search of their sound, looking for their voice on each recording. Both their previous albums firmly placed them into black metal, Everything pulled them into atmospheric approaches to the sound; yet, they never quite moved past the forlorn cold and bleak of black metal.
Only the Ocean Knows firmly pushes this Dutch band past black metal’s sonic limitations. Comparable to Alcest (though decidedly darker), An Autumn for Crippled Children seem to come into their own artistically on this album. In such a way, this is a mood piece and feels like a veritable flood of emotion that rolls in with the tide, entering in with a New Wave synth sound, a strong bass line, and fuzzy guitars.
The album’s mix places value on all instruments it seems and no one aspect overrides another; e.g.: vocals are lower in the mix than typical, which gives them the feeling of being another instrument. Overall the quality of the album’s mix is good, and each instrument can clearly be felt and heard. The general emotion created by the album is as cold as black metal typically aims; however, it is mitigated by the use of the New Wave and Shoegaze to make it feel longingly so.
No one song stands out in my mind from this recording and while the songs are titled; they could easily be named in a fashion similar to Years Past Matter (though I feel like this album is better than Krallice’s works). It is a composed piece in which the songs feel as if movements over the scheme of the album, and generally everything works well together here. However, the piece is short, lasting just under 40 minutes over eight songs (returning to the ocean).
An Autumn for Crippled Children’s release will be compared to Alcest, Heretoir, and Thranenkind, and is definitely far darker than Alcest and Heretoir in my opinion. It is a wonderfully contemplative and atmospheric album, who’s merits are apparently when the first few bars of the first song and do not end until the last second of the last song. Thankfully short, it feels focused and powerful in its melancholy, serving as a nice counterbalance to Alcest’s positivity in the Blackgaze movement, while not nearly as skilled as Alcest at combining the sounds clearly.