Published on November 24th, 2012 | by greg0
Crystal Castles: III:: Review
The bleak synthetic sounds of Crystal Castles dive a few meters deeper on their new record III and the grim tone nearly becomes oppressive. Everything about III resonates with darkness beginning with the album cover which features a Yemeni woman cradling her naked son to Alice Glass’ lyrics which sound almost resigned to accepting her fate. While I wasn’t expecting any major chords on a Crystal Castles’ album any time soon, I also didn’t expect III to be so dire. However, III is simply reflective of the times that we live in, that is, if you’ve been paying attention.
III is an album that also marks a return to the chaotic style of Crystal Castles’ debut which is perhaps a reaction to the fairly straightforward sound of their sophomore set II. III doesn’t contain the 8-bit chiptunes that dominated their debut but feels more like a steady wash of synths that can wash the stain of humanity away. While that’s a novel concept by the band, the same synths nearly obliterate the vocals of Alice Glass with their oppressive nature. III opens with “Plague” and you get the suspicion that Glass will succumb at any moment to multi-instrumentalist Ethan Kath’s woozy keyboards. “Kerosene” further disorients with its chipmunk-like backing vocals and off kilter dance rhythm.
The pulsing and static-filled “Wrath of God” ratchets the tension up a notch before the pessimistic strains of “Affection” feign a wrist slashed by razors. Despair sets in on “Insulin” where the vocals are distorted to speaker ravaging effect. III offers a brief reprieve in “Transgender” and “Violent Youth” before a bipolar tonal shift occurs on the syncopated “Telepath.” “Mercenary,” like its name implies offers a false sense of security prior to the anti-lullaby sentiment of “Child I Will Hurt You.”
III is an insular album that isn’t particularly welcoming. On the other hand, if you’re already in the fold then you’ll find comfort in it.