It feels like a really long time since ‘Crystal Castles (II)’, but the explosive noise-pop duo finally unleashed new material on the world today, with ‘Plague’.
It’s almost a modern day interpretation of the ‘O Fortuna’ movement of Carl Orff’s ‘Carmina Burana’ as the drama builds thanks to an ominous-sounding beginning to a frighteningly huge catharsis. The song’s main synth line goes from unsettlingly hollow and echo-laden to apocalyptically Gregorian in the chorus, Alice Glass screaming the refrain ‘I am a plague!’ and sounding like a threat of suicide thanks to her petulant psycho-brat charm.
And although there was no shortage of dark moments on their previous album, ‘Plague’ takes this darkness to a whole new level. Unlike ‘Vietnam’ which starts off with an industrial buzz before transforming to a supernova of crystalline strings, ‘Plague”s quieter build-up to its gothic chorus drenched in black keys is both immediately oppressive and haunting. It actually sounds quite sad too; there’s absolutely no reprieve or glimmer of hope. It’s a show of defiance in a completely futile situation.
‘Plague’ feels different to their previous efforts, as by their own standards, it’s much more of a slow burner. This isn’t to suggest they’ve deviated from their practise of lambasting you with razor-sharp electronica, but this really paces itself to frightening effect. And like all their work, it’s a sensory overload that’s absolutely mesmerising.
With ‘Plague’, Crystal Castles have both kept their signature sound and evolved in to a much darker beast. Who’d have thought it possible?