We all have a dark side, and Crystal Castles are back doing what they do best, tearing this out and mixing it into the dark depths of their experimental yet gothic techno sound. No doubt a lot rests on their fourth album Amnesty, after the departure of Alice Glass and the new line up with vocalist Edith Frances, but it’s safe to say not too much has changed from their old sound that hypnotised the masses.
Opening track ‘Femen’ sets the scene of Amnesty perfectly in just over two and a half minutes, an eerie gospel like haze filled with a highly experimental sound and a tainting aura. Tracks like ‘Fleece’ and ‘Char’, the latter which debuted as Annie Mac’s Hottest Record last month, progress this theme, being very much in your face and coming out of the shadows and launching an attack of supernatural synths and possessive vocals. Other highlights include ‘Chloroform’, an intense and rich electronic eruption, and ‘Frail’ which posses an early 2000s sound perpetuated with the high-pitched eerie vocal from Edith.
The one downfall of Amnesty is it’s easy to get lost as you listen. The songs are presented in short bursts which all have that trance synth-pop core to them. There is no doubt that as a live music experience the tracks from Amnesty would charge the atmosphere to borderline insanity, but on record it becomes easily repetitive and tedious. Tracks like ‘Teach Her How To Hunt’ and ‘Ornament’ seem to be quite two-dimensional and the short bursts of tense synths and muffled vocals that characterize Amnesty feel overused after the first few songs.
Crystal Castles have always been un-ignorable and held a mystic lure and that hasn’t changed, but Amnesty is riddled with the feeling that live is where this album will truly shine. The odd track offers something magical and esoteric, but others leave it just falling short of being something incredible. The dark appeal of Amnesty makes it something special for sure, but it’s an acquired taste that may suit some more than others.