Trauma is experienced and expressed in varying degrees and there are many ways that people who experience abuse cope with their trauma.
Alice Glass, formerly known as the brutal, thrashing front woman of Toronto electro punk band Crystal Castles, released her debut EP in 2018. The project was self-titled, illustrating Glass’s determination to reclaim her identity and re-assert her autonomy after leaving an abusive partnership with her former bandmate in Crystal Castles. It is a sheer departure from Crystal Castles, this time with Alice at the wheel, her guttural vocals this time buoyed by the digital hardcore mix and trap beats, no longer obscured by the production.
In a conversation with Interview Magazine, Glass expressed her love of post-punk and riot grrrl bands including Kleenex (formerly known as LiLiPut), Bratmobile, and Bikini Kill. The sonic brutality on songs like “Natural Selection” off her EP perfectly matches the vengeful fury of the riot grrrl sound and aesthetic, and the pulsating synth bass lines on “Forgiveness” feel like a throwback to the industrial electropunk of the Normal and Cabaret Voltaire.
The center focus of the EP is Glass finding catharsis in her attempts to heal. Many of the songs focus on her determination to permanently gouge her abuser out of her life. “Tell me where to spit/Don’t tell me what to swallow,” she asserts in the opening track “Without Love.”
Near the end of the third track, “Natural Selection,” there is a monstrous roar coupled with the explosive, clashing sound that I would liken to tinsel being tossed in a microwave. This is followed by Glass screaming “GET THE FUCK OFF OF ME!” four times in a row. This energy carries into the following track, “White Lies.” “This is not the voice in my head/You’re depraved, soaking to the bone/Wash away what’s left of my blood,” she chants defiantly. On “Blood Oath,” this roaring sound is looped throughout the song and embellished with squeaking synths and production glitches that sound like gunshots.
The EP’s closing track “The Altar,” strongly contrasts with the remaining songs on the EP. It is the only slow cut on the project, and also much shorter in length. “Somewhere else, someone else feels worse/Forget that the sun is in the universe,” she repeats, continuing her internal monologue. She’s persevering in the face of adversity, hoping that one day she will find peace. This track shows Alice coming back down to earth after ruminating on her anger and giving the listener a level-headed reflection of what she went through.