Crystal Castles – (III)

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Having initially burst onto that (now hilarious) ‘nu-rave’ scene way back in 2008, we all found ourselves highly relieved to see that this Canadian electronic duo were the ones to progress from that somewhat forgettable bracket. By the end of that year, we’d all had our fill of Klaxons and Hadouken! for one lifetime and were, quite frankly, desperate to forget them – but not Crystal Castles. Providing a fantastic development from their terrorizing and abrasive 8-bit sound that we all fell in love with through the release of I, we were graced with a second eponymous LP. Standing as a terrifyingly cold, icy representation of a hauntingly accepting sense of nihilism, II made an astounding break onto the electro scene in the Summer of 2010, providing the duo with several remarkable years of delightfully volatile and stunning live performances, as well as being rewarded with the John Peel Award for Innovation the following year, thanks to NME.

And with all of that comes the age of III – Crystal Castles’ darkest, most ominous set of tracks yet. While Alice’s raw, merciless vocals make less of an appearance here (only truly surfacing within ‘Plague’ and ‘Insulin’), the replacement of instrumental tracks and softer, soul-crushing vocals make for a refreshing substitute. Take ‘Kerosene’ – an ethereal collection of whispers accompanied by that crushing beat to create an impending sense of fear – something which makes for a truly formidable third album.

The latter part of the album is no exception to this. With a somewhat heavier focus on the electronics of the Crystal Castles sound (rather than the vocals), tracks such as ‘Violent Youth’ and ‘Telepath’ give us something which we can only imagine will become the perfect dance anthem within the live sphere – the one many of you will inevitably be experiencing in the coming months.

Accompanying this, with a ferociously industrial hook to pierce you, ‘Pale Flesh’ packs vocals that will function only to tear you apart from within – standing tall as one of the true highlights of the album. As this moves into upcoming single ‘Sad Eyes’, we are given even more of that heavy-trance, seemingly floral sound seen in ‘Plague’creating a thirst within us that we just know will never truly be satisfied.

And when it really comes down to it, what makes this album so formidable is the way in which we know nothing has really changed with Crystal Castles – but the mystery and obscurity we have come to know and love, means that this is a sound that doesn’t really need to change. And for that we can enjoy a completely new era of Crystal Castles. That is, while we wait for the next one with bated breath of course.

8/10

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