Crystal Castles didn't take off flying with their 2008 debut Crystal Castles, but they set the precedent for what came next.Read More
The distorted synths of Crystal Castles are something you can't mess with. Amnesty (I) is the band's first album in four years, and the first to not feature ex-vocalist Alice Glass. It's an eclectic album, though distortion can't save everything.
It begins hauntingly with a haunting reversed choir sample (apparently singing a cover of 'Smells Like Teen Spirit') on top of a hip-hop beat and layered synths. This element of creepiness finds different motifs throughout the album. 'Fleece' displays it with distorted tortured vocals screaming above huge synth blasts, while 'Enth' ups the creepy factor in the same way with crunchy synths under urgent distorted vocals. The whole album has a similar vibe that repeats throughout, but there's a lot more to it.
Despite the unsettling sounds that find their way into the record in nearly every track, there's a wider array of emotion being displayed. See 'Char' - a much sweeter track, with bouncier synths and a more gentle vocal line. It's a chiller track than the preceding 'Fleece', which is a bombardment of distortion. This track, on the other hand, is smooth and rounded around the edges in comparison. Similarly smooth is the epic closer, 'Their Kindness Is Charade'. It's like a more epic version of CHVRCHES' 'Afterglow' - it has all the same elements (closing their albums, atmosphere), but this track builds with a lot more meaning. The synths constantly build into one last epic hurrah to end the record on a big note. It's an appropriate send off for an album so diverse, as it displays the best of the record within the span of three minutes.
Instrumentally, this album is a banger. To the pulsating synths of 'Sadist' to the soft buildup of 'Their Kindness Is Charade', there's a lot of ground covered on this record. You can find nearly anything you want on this album - 'Chloroform' even has the weird scratch synths that were iconic in the 2000's. 'Concrete' has bouncy and dark synths on top of a pounding beat (under vocals that sounds like a distorted cheerleading session), and you can find the extremes of distortion in 'Teach Her How To Hunt'.
Crystal Castles took their time crafting this album. It's creepy and often times off-putting, but it stands together well. Amnesty (I) is proof that Alice Glass wasn't the heart of the band - she was an extension of it, but not the whole package. Ethan Kent and Edith Francis can hold it down just fine.
Favorite Tracks: Their Kindness Is Charade, Femen, Enth
Least Favorite Track: Ornament
Rating: 70 / 100