You may never see Russian death metal and American Motown on the same stage, but bands from all genres
from all over the world seem to have one thing in common:
An obsession with crystals.
I can’t explain it. Maybe they’re all secret geologists or 5-year-old girls obsessed with shiny things, or maybe they just love table salt (it’s a crystalline solid!). But two decades after we thought Crystal Method exhausted the word by conjuring drug use, the glistening molecular anomaly is still one of the most popular words for a band name. And that leaves us to figure out what’s what.
How do you tell the Crystal band names apart? Here’s your helpful guide.
1. Crystal Castles
Crystal Castles come from Canada (there’s a mnemonic alliteration for you). This grippingly dark experimental 8-bit girl/boy duo got their name from a line out of the 80s cartoon She-Ra . Together they warp their vocals into robots sounds, they blip, they brood, and they sell tons of LPs for a weird indie band.
And they don’t take sh**. The eyeliner-loving frontwoman Alice Glass (Glass? Crystal?) actually punched a fan last month for supposedly grabbing her breast during a concert. The group also calls out anyone and everyone who samples their work or displays their album art without their permission.
Crystals? More like eggshells!
2. Crystal Fighters
Iggy favorite Crystal Fighters from Spain got their name from the title of a Basque opera. The piece was written by singer Laure’s grandfather, who was suffering from dementia at the time (and clearly obsessed with crystals too!).
The quintet incorporates Basque string and percussion instruments, but their overall sound is loud, thrashy, psychedelic electropop. Check out their latest releases off their upcoming album Star of Love: “Follow” and “Swallow.”
3. Crystal Stilts
Crystal-themed bands can play rock ‘n’ roll too! Brooklyn’s Crystal Stilts, who are working on a new LP, play throwback punk pop that’s heavily weighed down by reverb into a delightful incoherence.
Frontman Brad Hargett actually had a dream about crystal stilts one evening and thought the name was perfect for the band. Why? Because they’re chaotic! Hargett told Artrocker he didn’t realize at the time that other bands were hopping on the crystal bandwagon (oh man, that would be a great and timely name for a band wouldn’t it!?).
4. Crystal Antlers
Crystal Antlers are a California-based, 1 gal/four dudes organ-heavy garage punk rock group. They opened for the Cold War Kids, and no doubt, Crystal Antlers’ passionate, loud, distorted, depressing vocals about death could certainly rival Cold War Kids’ frontman Nathan Willett.
The Crystal Antlers told Spinner they got their name from an analytical dream theory that says: if you dream about crystal antlers, you’re actually dreaming about the fragility of the male species.
Freud, why you gotta ruin deer?!
The Crystal Antlers didn’t know there were tons of other crystal band names out there, probably because only one of them owns a computer. I bet they also don’t know that The Antlers is a huge band out of New York. Is anyone managing their Googlability?
Check out their track “Little Sister” off their sole LP Tentacles.
5. Crystal Lake
Think of a calm, crystalline lake.
And then think of the exact opposite of that. Then you’ve got the shouty, thrashy, extreme metalcore band Crystal Lake out of Tokyo.
The young fivesome, coming out with their second LP in October, play at festivals with names like The Bloodaxe Festival, Hatebreed Japan Tour 2007, and my favorite, the Blood of Judas Tour.
But what I really like about this band, besides their ironic name (it’s actually the name of the campground in the Friday the 13th flicks) and gruesome festivals, is that they clearly practice. It takes a steady hand and a trained ear to make metalcore not sound like a chaotic sh**show. Yet you can hear all the distinct, loud, terrifying sections, all played pretty virtuosically.
Check out their live track “Daylight,” performed on the Taste of Chaos tour in Japan.
6. Crystal Abyss
Since we’re on the metal topic, let’s head east to Russia, where Crystal Abyss is shocking and tantalizing audiences everywhere.
Crystal Abyss plays stylized black, death and melodic metal. That gorgeous lady in the corset, Sinctriah, plays synth with a heavy organ effect, making Crystal Abyss symphonic, theatrical and old school horror movie-esque.
You probably won’t confuse this group with the other Crystals, unless you just don’t notice Kiss-style makeup and babes. The band, which just came out with a new LP and has been around since the late 90s, predates most of the bands on this list. So they might have been one of the crystal trendsetters (oh man, another great band name!)
7. Crystal Eyes
Helloo lots of blonde hair surrounding a bald guy!
Crystal Eyes uses classic rock ‘n’ roll tactics and deliberate vocal melodies (as opposed to screaming) a la Black Sabbath and Judas Priest.
They called themselves Crystal Eyes because, well, they thought it sounded good.
Here’s a sample of their new LP.
8. Crystal Arcade
The early-20s-aged, shaggy-haired UK band has supported Iggy fave Bombay Bicycle Club, and they’re playing on the live circuit armed with their latest EP All The Things She Said.
The foursome plays sweet, poppy, emo-dripping songs about relationships, sans fancy effects.
9. Crystal Skulls
You’d think this would be the metal band on the list, but nay, the Seattle-based group Crystal Skulls play folky indie pop rock…that is, when they’re not losing members and doing separate projects. The band’s numbers have dwindled from four to two in the last few years, with the drummer citing collabo names like Sufjan Stevens and Pedro the Lion.
They formed in 2004 and shocked the world by releasing two LPs two years in a row (yeah, I feel like an underachiever). They named themselves after a legend that 13 crystal skulls were buried around the world during Mesoamerican times. Some say they’d cure cancer, if we could only find them. Too bad it’s a legend.
Despite their dark and mysterious namesake, their sound is groovy, quirky, easy-breezy indie pop rock.
10. Crystal Method
The legends. The myths. And probably the most commercially successful band with the name Crystal. The California house/breakbeat duo The Crystal Method have been rocking the samplers and getting club-goers on their feet for almost two decades.
They don’t really have to work anymore. They could just ride the success of video games and movies that use their tracks. (I’ll never forget the opening scene in the movie Blade, where the vampires rave and drink blood from shower heads to an appropriately intense Crystal Method track! SOOO WICKED!). But after six albums, including Divided By Night released last year, they show no signs of letting up.
Oh. And obviously their name is a drug reference. If you don’t get it by now, you probably wouldn’t like their music to begin with.
Check out their breakbeat track “Drown in the Now” on an X-Games 3D Movie trailer!
Honorable Mention: The Crystals
Flashback! Remember when “crystal method” could only mean a method of forming crystals? Remember when “heavy metal” could only mean weighty alloys?
That’s when the all-girl Motown pop foursome The Crystals rose to fame. These ladies sang legendary producer Phil Spector’s classics until they disbanded in 1964.
You know who they are, because 80s flicks revived them. “Uptown” was revamped for the musical Little Shop of Horrors, and “Then He Kissed Me” was the opener for Adventures in Babysitting.
Don’t act like you don’t know what I’m talking about!