Album Review: Sleigh Bells

“They’ve been careful not to stray from the classic formula, but make enough of a creative step to keep things interesting…”

Sleigh Bells | Reign of Terror

Brooklyn duo, Alexis Krauss and Derek Miller (aka Sleigh Bells), earned unexpected buzz for their 2010 debut Treats. They now return with their latest album Reign of Terror promising to be equallyas noisy and vivacious as its predecessor, all the while spouting hype-inducing soundbites like ‘’the sonic equivalent of a beautiful shotgun to the head’, making it concrete clear that they would be staying faithful to their trademark decibel level. On that promise, Reign Of Terror doesn’t disappoint.

It erupts into life with the roar of True Shred Guitar, an opening every bit as ridiculous as its name suggests it will be, complete with the sound of a rambunctious audience cheering to the commands of singer Alexis Krauss and a storm of slamming drum machine bursts from Miller. The prelude leads into the exhilarating Born to Lose, the first single to be released off the new album and a track with so much going on- plenty of which is hard to decipher over Krauss’s droning vocals – that it may leave you feeling nauseous. It’s the same eardrum punishing noise associated with Sleigh Bells but mixed with an ominous undercurrent lurking amidst Krauss tender vocals and an eerie childlike chorus.

Crush has the most commercial appeal of anything on the album, with a sweet and glossy chorus that hears Krauss modestly admit ‘Ive got a crush, Ive got a crush on you.’ But this vulnerability is dispelled with a background of crunching snarly guitars that wipe away any coyness Krauss maybe teasing us with.

Recent single Comeback Kid is an infectious and (for Sleigh Bells) relatively easy on the ear effort. The truculent side to Sleigh Bells is put to one side as Krauss sings in a sugary-sweet tone amongst hardcore riffs and assaulting drums, ‘you gotta try a little harder, you’re the comeback kid’. The vocal line, displaying similarities with Crush, suggests plenty of time spent listening to sleazy, modern RnB with an incredibly catchy hook that will stick in your mind for hours.

Fittingly, the darkest moment of the album comes in the form of Demons, with Krauss seeming like a being possessed. The fact it comes after the aural candy of Comeback Kid cleverly heightens contrats with Krauss hollering “burn the orphanage!” before a squealing guitar lick enters the fray. Miller is unrestrained as he introduces purely metal guitars that will make your ears bleed, all the while Krauss is consumed by rage, angrily singing ”you’ll be taken down.”

Elsewhere, Never Say Die hints at a more progressive sound. A ghostly melody coupled with a feeling of Klauss’ spirit breaking continues into the final track DOA, grinding guitars and hypnotic vocals, allow the album to end on an unsettling note.

Reign of Terror feels like a natural evolution from Treats. It’s careful not to stray from the classic girly vocals atop gnarly guitars and heavy drums enjoyed in Treats, but makes enough of a creative step to keep the listeners interested. In essence, it’s exactly the right mix of the two creative paths to guarantee them a third effort.

The pair have proved they’ve made a cacophonous comeback. With their volume alone making them hard to ignore it will be interesting to see what direction they take on their next album.

Comeback Kid by Sleigh Bells