Sleigh Bells: Reign of TerrorJul 3, 2012 Write an essay on this topic.
Popular Products in MusicThe Bottom Line It may not be the direction many fans expected after their debut album Treats, but it is a step in the right direction. Another 5 star album by the group.
Since Epinions does not allow the option to review Sleigh Bells’ second album, Reign of Terror, I have taken it upon myself to review this album anyway. Reign of Terror is far different than the duo’s debut album Treats that boasted party anthems and a cocky attitude. Instead they are replaced with darker lyrics, slightly slower tempos, and more serious song themes. For those who loved Treats, this album still has songs that will interest you without a doubt. Alexis still sings with dramatic airy vocals and Derek comes up with some pretty memorable guitar riffs; however Reign of Terror showcases another side of the band’s young and evolving sound. The noise-pop outfit from Brooklyn is back and ready to embark on a brand new reign of audio terrorism.
The opening track on the album, “True Shred Guitar,” is the duo recording themselves playing a song for a faked live audience at an arena in New Orleans. Alexis gets censored in a comical manner by bleeps trying to pump the crowd up before the group goes into a short minute and a half jam. Being half joke and half real song, this song manages to entertain without feeling like a filler track. Sleigh Bells try to give listeners an idea of their live shows (which are incredible) with this track and also let them know just how much they have missed the group. There are also two other songs that fall into this fun category as well titled “Crush” and “Comeback Kid.” “Crush” is a fun song that features Alexis singing about a crush that she wants to control. It features friends of the band clapping and stomping on top of bleachers and having the sounds captured and sampled during the chorus while Derek plays a simple, yet fitting guitar riff in the background. This song was the only song on the album that I didn’t enjoy initially, but I will admit that it has grown on me quite a bit since then. “Comeback Kid” is the lead single off of the album and is hands down the closest song that sounds like it would fit in on the album Treats. It features an up-tempo electronic beat, power chords jacked from a Nirvana song (Derek admitted they sounded similar after the album’s release and wore a Nirvana t-shirt in the music video because of it), and Alexis singing in a high pitched, poppy fashion. Anyone who was a fan of Treats should be dancing wildly to this song within seconds. While this old style is a welcomed addition to the record, the group also showcases a newer and darker style as well.
Reign of Terror is an album that is able to take the fun pop songs on it and completely switch the mood of the record at the snap of a finger. Songs like “Leader of the Pack” and “End of the Line” features a softer and more subdued depression within them and highlights Alexis’s singing voice. “Leader…” is about the death of Derek’s grandfather (a common theme on the album) and the feelings that accompany those who loved him, but this song is surprisingly danceable for such a bleak subject matter. Beginning with an M16 gunshot and a faint keyboard/bell pattern, this song slowly morphs from eerie and dream-like pop melody into an electric guitar strut with finger snapping melodies. This song is one of my favorites to listen to both musically and lyrically as it artistically adds depth to Reign of Terror. “End of the Line” is a song about the death of a relationship that is sung in a playful yet unremorseful tone. Alexis light voice and unapologetic lyrics puncture through the lush wall of sound making this track a contender for the best song on the disc. The guitar part that plays during the chorus in its smooth and vibrating tone is easily the best part of the song for me. This is definitely a song to jam out or lounge around to. “Road to Hell” was my original favorite song off the album and is similar in terms of “End of the Line.” Featuring echoing vocals, it is easy to get lost within the electronic rhythm, minimalistic guitar lines, and a faint yet scratchy rapid fire drum beat. The chorus can get repetitive but it does not ruin this song one bit. Also with great lyrics like, “Don’t run away from me, baby/ Just go away from me, baby,” this song bolsters the middle of the album quite well. “You Lost Me” is the final song in this category. Playful sounding vocals lost within a hazy electric guitar riff make Alexis singing about suicide sound not so dreary. This song is describes the bond two people in a romantic punk mindset right before they commit double suicide.
In case you have not yet picked up this record is not optimistic, but damn it Sleigh Bells mask misery so well that many would never guess the record was so dark without dissecting and really examining the lyrics. There are also other times on this album where the band does not mask their feelings and have a lot to get off of their chests. “Demons” is probably the most aggressive thing on Reign of Terror and is also reminiscent of songs found on their debut album. Loud vocals, violent lyrics, an awesome guitar riff, and a few six six sixes later will have anybody stomping about while raising all Hell. The song is comparable to “Infinity Guitars” in terms of vocal style and overall attitude off of their debut album Treats. “Never Say Die” contains a nicely picked guitar riff that winds and snakes its way about this three and a half minute tune. The vocals again can get somewhat repetitive but the Derek is the main emphasis of this song thankfully and Alexis’s voice sounds too nice for me to complain much about them. “Born to Lose” is another suicide track, but without the love aspect that “You Lost Me” had. Containing a machine gun speed drum sample and rhythmic guitar sections, the electric punk dance noise track known as “Born to Lose” might be the loudest sing on the album. Complete with tempo changes and a chant along chorus, this was an obvious choice for Sleigh Bells to promote their online teaser for Reign of Terror with.
Concluding with the final track of the album, “D.O.A.” is also my personal favorite off of the record. Beginning with an odd sounding guitar riff that chugs along, Alexis sings over this mid tempo song with attitude and confidence as she has time and time again. “How come nobody knows/ How the chorus should go?” she asks in confusion as occasional sporadic drum loops and finger snaps layer this track fusing the best elements of the album onto one song. The slower pace of the song compared to the last couple make it feel like a breath of fresh air to the listener. This breath of fresh air quickly turns into a lungful of smoke though as dark lyrics once again creep through the melodic haze. Imagery of nosebleeds, cutting something into lines (hmm), and rain drops fit together to depict some sort of recovery from a sad or traumatic event. As the music fades out, the groups reminds us to, “Remember who you are,” bringing a satisfying close to the close.
The artwork designed for this album is also interesting to look at. There are pictures of M16s, sugar cane fields on fire (Derek’s dad was apparently a field worker at one point during his life), war medals, and camouflage givIng the record a definitive flavor. Much of this album is dedicated to Derek’s father so the artwork and depressing themes certainly reflect the emotional state Derek was in while creating this disc. Even to the casual fans of the group this album is worth physically buying not only to support the band, but also to experience the companion pieces of art that go along with it.
This event did effect Derek’s playing ability on the album as Reign of Terror has better guitar parts overall than Treats did. Overall, I feel that Reign of Terror has a completely different feel to it than Treats did and can see why some fans were initially upset on their first listen. Reign of Terror is more depressing and does not contain the party anthems that its predecessor did, but shows the band continuing to evolve and further develop their sound. Reign of Terror may not be a step in the same direction as Treats, but it is certainly a step forward for Sleigh Bells.
Track listing: 1. True Shred Guitar, 2. Born To Lose, 3. Crush, 4. End Of The Line, 5. Leader Of The Pack, 6. Comeback Kid, 7. Demons, 8. Road To Hell, 9. You Lost Me, 10. Never Say Die, 11. D.O.A.
Personnel: Alexis Krauss – Vocals, Derek Miller – All Instruments/Art Direction/Production
Favorite songs: D.O.A., Comeback Kid, Demons, End Of The Line, Road To Hell
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