Crystal Castles: Amnesty (I) (Casablanca) Review | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Wednesday, August 12th, 2020  

Crystal Castles

Amnesty (I)

Casablanca

Aug 17, 2016 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


It's hard to figure out how to feel about music when you don't know how you feel about the people making it. When an artist's image is in disrepute and integrity in question, does this preclude true appreciation of the work he or she creates? Sometimes, knowing too much about the person behind the canvass taints the viewing of it. Then there are those whose controversial behavior breeds intrigue, making them, and so too their art, more critically fascinating.

Until recently, the duo that was Crystal Castles toed that line between mysteriously captivating and plain irreverent, with Ethan Kath looming in disturbing presence behind keyboards and Alice Glass' sharpened assault vocals daring you to come closer. The darkly hypnotic sound profile touched that area of morbid curiosity and pent up carnality, probably the same stimulus zone that makes us watch horror flicks, while at once making you want to pounce and sway with delirious abandon. Whatever their reputed deviances or outward affronts, their music's provocative power was undeniable.

Then came the rather bitter split of the two, followed by a period of publicized discord which cast a heavier shadow on Kath, making him a villain to many. It seems that in his case, the status has only heightened the intrigue in the latest Crystal Castles album, Amnesty (I), that reveals Kath picking up where the band had left off on 2012's (III) and moving forward with new frontwoman, Edith Frances.

Like him or hate him, Kath can compose stirring electro-maniacal rhythms like no one's business. And Frances captures and carries the tortured exclamation of the first three Crystal Castles albums with conviction. "Femen" lures you into the drama like a true intro track, setting you up with clenched fists for what's to come. By and large, Amnesty (I) stalks in the familiar Crystal Castles realm of the possessed children of God, lashing out. That place can feel uninviting during "Concrete," which tests the threshold of oppressive and induces the same anxious discomfort of similar past barrages. And yet "Char" and "Ornament" feel like siren calls to the swerve to '80s and '90s electro and neo-soul styles, which introduce groovier tempos that contrast nicely with the more frenetic and menacing attacks. This is where Frances distinguishes her vocal range from Glass', with cold and sexy whispers of warning. In "Kept," Kath strikes the perfect balance once nailed on hits "Untrust Us" and "Vanished" between entrancing and unsettling. It's a track that also lends a little credence to his claim that the most popular Crystal Castles tracks of the past didn't have Glass' imprint. Notwithstanding the stutter stepping, southern hip-hop leaners "Sadist" and "Chloroform"-which add somewhat banal dimension-the Crystal Castles archetype has been protected and advanced. It seems that in this case, quality comes through without much interference from questionable character (www.crystalcastles.com)

Author rating: 7/10

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Average reader rating: 9/10



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me, meli
August 17th 2016
7:29am

vanished is a remix!!!!!!
other than that kept is the only good song out of amnesty