Reign Of Terror
From the opening ear-shattering moments of “Tell ‘Em” to the last menacing moments of the title track, listening Sleigh Bells’ debut front to back was like being blind-sided by a Rock shovel and loving every moment of it. On Treats, the New York duo pioneered a bit of a new sound, with their music being what it would sound like if a cheerleading squad discovered heavy metal or Black Sabbath crashed a crazy train into M.I.A. So because of the astonishment found with their debut, I expected their follow up, Reign of Terror, to fall way short of the debut since it would lack the novelty of hearing their sound for the first time. And while Reign of Terror is indeed more of the same, it is no doubt another really good record, full of plenty of excellent moments, but also its handful of redundant ones.
Reign of Terror opens with “True Shed Guitar”, which sounds like the opening to an AC/DC or Joan Jett concert and is sort of a hard rock guitar exhibit, but for Sleigh Bells, the track comes off as a bit hokey and an odd way to open the album, nowhere near the plain awesomeness of “Tell ‘Em” from Treats. Single “Born To Lose” follows and hits you with a disorienting amount of kick drum and pounding guitar, but also feels heavy on tricks but low on content. Not the case, however, for other single “Comeback Kid”, which is a good thrasher mixed with bubble-gum melodies and relentless energy.
Reign of Terror has Sleigh bells wearing their rock references on their sleeves more than before with girl-group titles like “Leader of the Pack” and “Crush” to the hard rock nodding of “True Shed Guitar” and “Born to Lose”. “Crush” has a nice stomp-clap cheerleader bounce combined with Alexis Krauss’s syrupy vocals and Derek Miller’s wringing guitar. “Leader of the Pack” has a girl-group sparkle to it before getting menacing as if Ronnie Spector was kidnapped by Alice Cooper. “End of the Line” is a delight and is to Reign of Terror what “Rill Rill” was to Treats, an unbelievably catchy change-of-pace track that shows the band can do more than face plant rock.
Other highlights include the chugging “Road To Hell” and the blinding “You Lost Me”, both which highlight the irresistibly hypnotic quality of Sleigh Bells. Genre-bending artists like Sleigh Bells, M.I.A., and Santigold will likely multiply in the upcoming years as their mix of electronic pop with all different styles of music will and should become more of the norm.
Like the start, the end of Reign of Terror is pretty mediocre, with the last two songs (“Never Say Die”, “D.O.A.”) coming off as pretty forgettable. But while the bookends may be nothing to call home about, the album as a whole is stuffed full of enough grade A music that it makes Reign of Terror very worth your while, even if it isn’t as tasty as Treats.
Can’t Miss: “End of the Line”, “Road to Hell”, “Comeback Kid”, “Crush”
Can’t Hit: “True Shed Guitar”, “Never Say Die”, “Born to Lose”