They are named after the lyrics "The fate of the world is safe in Crystal Castles" and "Crystal Castles, the source of all power" both from the theme song for She-Ra's fortress. They are known for their melancholic lo-fi sound and their explosive live shows. Their debut album was included in NME's "Top 50 Albums of the Decade".
Initially the band was a solo project started by Ethan Kath in December 2003. Ethan later discovered Alice Glass singing in a noise-punk band, and thought he had found the "missing ingredient" to his music. In 2004 Ethan gave Alice 60 instrumental tracks and in April 2005 she recorded vocals over five instrumentals. The band's first single Alice Practice was actually a microphone test by Glass. She was not aware that the recording existed until London UK's Merok Records asked to release the track on vinyl. The limited release sold out in 3 days.
In 18 March 2008 they released their debut album entitled Crystal Castles. This album reached #47 on UK Albums Chart, #6 on US Top Electronic Albums, #13 on US Top Heatseekers, and #32 on US Independent Albums. Crystal Castles received great reviews and ranked #39 on NME Magazine "Top 50 Albums of the Decade". They issued four singles: Alice Practice (1 June 2006), Crimewave (Crystal Castles vs HEALTH) (13 August 2007), Air War (17 December 2007), and Courtship Dating (31 March 2008).
Crystal Castles are known not only for their own efforts as a band, but also for commissioned remixes for number of groups, including Hunting For Witches by Bloc Party, and Atlantis to Interzone by friends and label mates, Klaxons.
In mid-2008, Crystal Castles were involved in two controversies related to artwork permissions and samples in their earliest unreleased songs. Crystal Castles used Trevor Brown's artwork (depicting a black-eyed Madonna) without permission. - In one of Kath's earliest, unreleased demos, he incorporated a sample without permission. The track, "Insectica (CC vs Lo-Bat Version)", uses clips chopped out of a song by Lo-bat called "My Little Droid Needs a Hand", released under a Creative Commons license. Another track called "Love and Caring", samples the kick and snare from Covox's "Sunday".
In 23 April 2010 the duo released their second album Crystal Castles (II). This album reached #48 on UK Singles Chart, #8 on UK Dance Albums Chart, #24 on US Digital Albums, #6 on US Top Electronic Albums, and #3 on US Top Heatseekers. Crystal Castles (II) has been met with mostly positive reviews from critics. To date, three singles were issued: Doe Deer, Celestica and Baptism. In late 2010, the band issued the non-album single Not In Love which featured Robert Smith of The Cure on vocals.
The band toured throughout 2010 in the US and abroad and played the Reading and Leeds Festivals and Glastonbury Festival in the UK and Big Day Out in Australia. In February 2011, the band will perform on the NME Awards Tour
The band's third album, (III) was released on November 21, 2012. The album contains the singles "Plague", "Wrath of God", and "Sad Eyes".
On October 8th 2014 it was announced on Alice Glass' Twitter that she was leaving the band. However, Crystal Castles' manager immediately reported that the band would continue, and on the 16th April 2015, Ethan Kath released a new Crystal Castles track, "Frail", featuring a new vocalist named Edith. On 2 July 2015, another new song, "Deicide", was released.