Review: Crystal Castles – (III)

Much of the greatness of Crystal Castles has always been their originality, and many were afraid that their particular brand of music wouldn’t be able to sustain a third album, particularly one which so unashamedly continues a Crystal Castles tradition with the simple title (III).
But, though the aural abuse of their incredibly distinctive sound has remained unchanged, another successful reboot has been achieved.
As soon as ‘Plague’, an album opener of staggering genius, hits its dizzying heights, it becomes obvious what Glass meant when she said that a theme of this album is ‘oppression’.
A crucial part of Crystal Castles’ appeal is of course their eclectic live show, and ‘Plague’ provides an assault on the senses entirely appropriate to the band’s reputation.
Interviews with Glass reveal that she seems to have lost all faith in human nature: she has said that “it feels like the world is a dystopia where victims don’t get justice and corruption prevails,” and this feeling is prevalent throughout, particularly during ‘Sad Eyes’.
(III) closes with the tragic ‘Child I Will Hurt You’, a subtle and heart-rending plea which perfectly displays Glass’s astounding ability to evoke intense emotion with barely an intelligible word. The subtlety of this song perfectly illustrates the dichotomy between Crystal Castles’ angry, aggressive death-trance and their more sentimental, thoughtful side.
All in all, Crystal Castles appear to have achieved one again what most bands struggle to do even once. They have retained what always made them compelling but have also progressed musically. Whatever’s going on inside the heads of Alice Glass and Ethan Kath, it’s still working.