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Crystal Castles’ roots lie in bleepy goth-dance, and the lo-fi, video-game style of their early songs sounded very much of the bedroom in which they were recorded.
It’d be wrong to say that the Canadian duo have completely left those origins behind with this, their third self-titled album – in fact, there’s much continuity across Crystal Castles’ output. But rather than peddle the same trick, they display steady progression.
Riding a ferocious tide of hype towards 2008’s debut, their graduation from toilet venues to top billing at festivals was swift, and it’s taken a little while for the music to catch up. With their third consecutive eponymous LP, the band’s sonic escalation finally matches the size of their popularity.
Epic more or less throughout, apocalyptically triumphant synths rage in surround-sound, while Alice Glass’ voice rings through the tumult like that of a demi-god trapped in a vast, complex machine. The cyborg singer’s anthropological side is indulged more here than before, as she struggles harder than ever against her robotic restraints.
Glass has always had the strange power to elicit emotion in spite of the dehumanising manipulation of her vocals. On (III) she goes further, frequently surfacing above the cogs and wires to affirm that her soul yet lives.
This dichotomy at the very heart of Crystal Castles is becoming more compelling by the album. On Affection, her performance is truly heartbreaking, words drifting delicately over stumbling programmed drums.
The ironic thing about (III) sounding so immense is that the tracks are typically less cluttered than the last two records. But the core elements are so big, like blasts of pure plasmic energy, that it sounds planet-sized.
It’s not meant for the riot-bating boltholes or ravey discos of yore; (III)’s rightful home is a colossal stadium in space, starships trading laser-blows overhead, as rogue stars collide in the far distance. Meanwhile, a clock above the stage countdowns from 39 minutes to zero, at which point one of two things will happen: Glass will finally break free of the machines that enslave her; or this, the ultimate cosmic venue, will self-destruct.
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Top Customer Reviews
In fact the whole album doesn't stray too far from Crystal Castles signature sound of their first two albums. "Pale Flesh" features a Beastie Boys style beat throughout the track as Alice Glass alternates between shrieking and singing. "Sad Eyes" has a big disco beat that is meant to be played loud. The track "Insulin" which at less than two minutes long is the shortest track on the album and sounds like it has been mixed in a blender and then played backwards; if it were anybody but Crystal castles it would sound strange. There's even the beauty of Alice's vocals on album closer "Child I will Hurt You".
If you are familiar with Crystal castles first two albums then you will know what to expect from their third album which is a lot of big pounding beats, lots of noise and some shrieking vocals. So it's business as usual from one of the most exciting electronic bands out there at the moment. At band that really have to be seen live to truly appreciate.
Plague - The first release from (III), dark and progressive with a grinding bass. 9/10
Kerosene - With a strong bassline and a combination of high pitched vocals and high pressure,dry, jagged synths, plus one my favourite synth riffs of 2012, this is my pick of the album. Perfect song. 10/10
Wrath Of God - Opening with warm but sombre layered synths, the track explodes into an apocalyptic chorus, featuring icy chords and distorted vocals. Bleak,sinister and excellent. 10/10
Affection - Drenched in reverb, Alice's vocals drift across the sprightly instrumental on this chilled out track. 7/10
Pale Flesh - A minimal, jittery synth line is hit with vocals dripping with pain. Dark & emotive. 9/10
Sad Eyes - Pulsing, sorrow tinged dance track. Most commercial song on the album. Melancholic. 8/10
Insulin - Opens with 80s horror synths, before breaking into crackling menacing distorted basslines and shouty vocals. 7/10
Transgender - Eerie and haunting dance-tinged track with echoing vocals. Pleasant. 8/10
Violent Youth - An upbeat electro song featuring chunky bass synth lines and simple but memorable melodies. 8/10
Telepath - Uplifiting electro-dance track, one of the best on the album. Happiest track on the album. Every chord & note is perfectly chosen. 10/10
Mercenary - One of the more experimental tracks on here, has a spiritual vibe to it. Interesting string-like synth riffs. 8/10
Child I Will Hurt You - Mystical, beautiful closing track. Twinkling instrumental complimented by angelic vocals. Sounds festive. 9/10
This is the perfect dark electro album.Read more ›
'Child I will hurt you' is a change of pace, but one of the most sublime songs for a winter evening...
I had no interest in buying the physical CD but it worked out cheaper to do that and get the free instant digital download than buying just the digital album - how can that make any sense?!
Plague and Kerosene are a solid start to the album and the latter has the haunting lyric "I'll protect you from all the things I've seen." Wrath of God is my personally favourite and a synthplosion happens in the chorus. This is followed up with Affection which is amazing, there a ghostly oos that you would expect to hear in the middle of the woods at midnight on a lonely walk home.
Pale Flesh has the glitchy feel to it that the first one had with cold synths accompaning it, commonplace in this albums sound. Next we have Sad Eyes which is brilliant. The song feels like a really depressed rave where everybody in attendance knows that they're going to die the next day. Insulin is like a tamed "Doe Deer" that has been refined. And then, we have Transgender. I think of Nina from Black Swan slowly practising her pirouette eventually turning into the Black Swan. It's beautiful and haunting. Alice's vocals are what makes it so chilling. This band are becoming masterful in what they do.
Violent Youth carried a feel of the sound from the first two albums, as does Telepath. These two songs probably incorporate all of the sounds of all three albums in one.
Mercenary slows the atmosphere down a bit before Child I Will Hurt You. This song is similar to all of their last tracks on I and II.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
some fantastic songs especially tracks no 1 and 2 some average songs tho' - well recommended 4/5Published 21 months ago by ANDY M
Slightly different to their other two albums but just as greatPublished 21 months ago by Amy Saunders
Sounds a bit like angry fairies and we like it! If electronic music is your taste - go for it.Published on 17 Jan. 2014 by rudkinali
I bought this CD as a Christmas Present so not really able to comment but had no complaints so rated 5 stars.Published on 8 Jan. 2014 by History Lover
On their third album CC takes more organic approach to their music. Synths are still present, but rugged 8-bit soundscape has subsided and more softer and emotional sounds takes... Read morePublished on 26 Aug. 2013 by aleksi koikkalainen