Sleigh Bells – Reign Of Terror (Columbia)

February 23, 2012 by  

Coming back from their 2010 popular debut ‘Treats’ are Sleigh Bells with their follow up titled ‘Reign Of Terror’. If you’re thinking that title should be named on a future Megadef release, then you are completely right. The title suggests a strong, hard rock influence, and this is what you get; the duo has dropped the hip-hop theme which was all over ‘Treats’. It’s replaced with Derek Miller going back to his rock roots, adding more heavy melodic riffs for Alexis Krauss to chirp her voice over.

Having said that Miller has provided the listener with more crunching guitar riffs, ‘Reign of Terror’ still feels a slightly softer listen compared to ‘Treats’. There seems to be more of a structure to each song; melodies are built up and Krauss uses her vocals to their full potential- gone are the banshee screams which she blasted over the occasional song on ‘Treats’. Instead she smothers songs with her ex-girl group lullabies, which are well placed and well sang. It’s just you want that ferocious angst to come back at times during the album. Unfortunately it never does.

The duo still haven’t lost their image as high schools’ oldest but coolest kids with their leather jackets, ripped jeans and blacked out shades… the type of students that smoke cigarettes under a disused bridge and have never been to one Physical Education lesson. It’s an image which bled over into the music they made, and this still happens in ‘Reign of Terror’. Titles for tracks suggest this: ‘Crush’, ‘Comeback Kid’, ‘Leader of the Pack’, ‘Never Say Die’, all names or statements that you would link with high school or find in scripts of throwback 80′s teen movies.

The aggressive noise-pop element of songs like ‘Infinity Guitars’ and ‘A-B Machines’ disappear in ‘Reign of Terror’ as it now goes along to suit Krauss’ softer vocal style. You get the feeling that she had more input in this album than she did in the last, and now it’s not Miller just doing what he wants then adding her vocals on afterwards. The tracks here feel more like pop songs, even though Sleigh Bells are not a traditional pop group. Miller’s signature sound is still covering the album like a messy blanket, it’s just Krauss has come to straighten it out a bit.

It was obvious that Sleigh Bells weren’t going to re-create another cult classic along the lines of ‘Treats’. However this is an album to show they still have a unique sound and style that no other band or artist has been able to make since their debut came out. The riffs are still stacked in a style that could only be described as a glorious brutish racket; just like their signature live shows. And the beats still make your ear drums rock like the sea crashing into cliffs. Overall they’re thankfully still the Sleigh Bells you knew from two years ago, the only duo that can make hipsters go heavy and teenagers revolt at the same time.

[rating:3.5]


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