Produced entirely by Ethan Kath,III was recorded in Berlin and Warsaw, and mixed in London. The album addresses the theme of oppression, with the musicians using different pedals and keyboards to create a diverse "palette of sound". "A lot of bad things have happened to people close to me since II and it's profoundly influenced my writing as I've realized there will never be justice for them. I didn't think I could lose faith in humanity any more than I already had, but after witnessing some things, it feels like the world is a dystopia where victims don't get justice and corruption prevails", Alice Glass explained in a statement. On October 9, 2012, the track listing for the album was revealed via the duo's official Facebook page.
III was initially planned to be released on November 5, 2012, before being delayed to November 12. The album cover features a picture by Spanish-born Catalan photojournalist and photographer Samuel Aranda. The image depicts a woman named Fatima al-Qaws holding her son, Zayed, who was exposed to tear gas during a street demonstration in Sana'a, Yemen, on October 15, 2011.
The album's first two singles, "Plague" and "Wrath of God", were made available for free download on the duo's SoundCloud page on July 25 and September 26, 2012, respectively. The accompanying music video for "Plague" debuted on September 24, 2012 and uses footage from Andrzej Żuławski's 1981 film Possession. "Affection" was released as the album's third single on October 31, 2012. The music video for "Affection" premiered on April 26, 2013 and was filmed on the duo's South American tour. "Violent Youth" premiered on Zane Lowe's BBC Radio 1 show on November 1, 2012. A music video for "Sad Eyes", shot in Berlin and Toronto, was released on January 20, 2013.
On July 26, 2012, Crystal Castles announced a North American tour with Health and Kontravoid in support of the album, as well as festivals appearances in Europe and Australia, starting on August 9, 2012 and ending on January 28, 2013. In November 2012, the band performed six dates in the United Kingdom. Additional dates across Europe, Oceania, North America, and South America were announced on October 17, 2012 and January 9, 2013.
III received generally positive reviews from music critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a weighted mean rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album received an average score of 76, based on 33 reviews, which indicates "generally favorable reviews". Louis Pattison of the NME commented that, "in toning down the shock and awe, [Crystal Castles have] revealed the beating heart at the centre of their work. The message, still, is that the world is a cruel and fucked-up place. But being doomed seldom sounded so beautiful."AllMusic's Heather Phares viewed III as the duo's "most serious set of songs yet" and stated, "Artistic progress is as much about subtraction as it is about addition, and on III, Crystal Castles have made room to be sad, angry, pretty, and danceable at the same time."Pitchfork Media's Ian Cohen dubbed III "the duo's most focused record", adding, "While not as immediately striking as either Crystal Castles (I or II), the streamlined sound allows more maneuverability and subtle variety in the actual songwriting." Matt James of PopMatters wrote, "Perennial outsiders to the death, Crystal Castles' third act is inspiring, warped, feverishly uncomfortable, bold, bloody and brilliant."
Dan Pfleegor of Consequence of Sound opined that "III is less playful than the duo's previous couple of offerings, but its thematic mood is much tighter and more fully realized."The Guardian's Tim Jonze noted that "Witch House is an obvious influence [on the album], and you could question whether the former chip-tune terrorists are still as ahead of the curve as they once were. It hardly matters when they can come up with stuff like 'Child I Will Hurt You', a dream-state lullaby that is both beautiful and unbearably sorrowful."Simon Price of The Independent stated that the album "shudders and shimmers like some massive, monstrous machine. But, when heard loud, the more accurate metaphors come from nature: flashes of lightning at the top end, earthquakes and landslides at the bottom." In a mixed review, Jesse Cataldo of Slant Magazine described III as "earnest, expansive electronica from a duo few are expecting such sincerity from, and it edges them directly into the middle of the road", concluding, "In striving for something new, the duo has only found a more recognizable sort of tedium." Annie Zaleski of The A.V. Club expressed that, "instead of anarchist dance jams full of crunchy 8-bit noise, (III) is more like a static-filled radio station fading in and out of range." Zaleski continued, "While (III) can use this disorientation effectively [...] too often the music is irritating, not disruptive." Hermione Hoby of The Observer felt that "there's very little on this third LP that could qualify as 'experimental'. Track after track leans heavily on the relentless four-to-the-floor of trance, with Alice Glass's yelped vocals muffled under a weight of sound that's simultaneously boring and abrasive."