Last year, Alice Glass released a statement on her website detailing the extensive abuse she suffered her from Crystal Castles band mate Ethan Kath over the course of the band’s history, starting when she was 15.
I was a devoted Crystal Castles fan as a teenager, and reading her statement made me feel guiltily complicit in a a horribly detached way. It’s with this background that CEASE AND DESIST, Glass’s first single since going public about Kath, was released.
The performance of Praying by Kesha at the Emmys was used as the night’s unofficial anthem for #metoo. Kesha’s song is similar to Glass’s – imagine saying that in any context in 2009 – in that it’s a musical ode to surviving abuse directed squarely at the abuser (in Kesha’s case, ‘Dr’ Luke Gottwald) from as public a stage as possible. With just the track’s title, Glass rips into Kath’s response to her blog post, turning the name of the legal letter his lawyers sent her into both a challenge to abusers, and a rallying cry to other victims. The main refrain of the song, ‘promise me, you’re never the victim’ tearing it’s way out of the pounding industrial beat resolutely rejects Kath’s threats.
In her revelations about Kath, Glass highlighted how he used the creative process as a form of abuse and control. She highlights one of their breakout singles Alice Practice, where Kath branded her performances as low quality or imperfect, “intentionally diminishing my role in its creation. It was another way of putting me down and preying on my insecurities.” While CEASE AND DESIST isn’t Glass’s most novel piece of work, it’s the sound of a freed artist wresting back control of her art and her narrative with a terrifying barrage of drums combined with her piercing signature vocals, and succeeding.