In 2010, the duo of Derek E. Miller (ex-Poison the Well) and Alexis Krauss – also known as Sleigh Bells – became critical darlings when their debut album Treats. It was unique, ruckus, loud, and a downright awesome album, making multiple Best Of lists. Their live shows reflected and reinforced their demeanor, making loud and incredibly enjoyable performances
So where does a band like Sleigh Bells go from here? Create an album that sounds like it could fit in with their successful first outing, or start to stray away from it and branch out. What we get with their sophomore album, Reign of Terror, is a version of the latter. While it has tracks reminiscent to the rawness of their freshman outing, they mostly slow themselves down to give us listeners a new perspective of what they can do. However, it just doesn’t feel the same as it did two years ago.
Reign of Terror starts with “True Shred Guitar,” a track that goes nowhere for about a minute, then finally breaks into some awesome riffs which harks back to last album’s “Infinity Guitars.” “Born to Lose” is more of a techno waltz – bouncing around to a rather slow but menacing beat. The first single “Comeback Kid” is a rather uplifting romp full of the rock and flair that made their last album awesome, which makes it easy to put on repeat.
Besides those highlights, the album hits and stays on a pretty low note. “End of the Line” sounds a lot like “Rill Rill;” a softer type ballad that doesn’t hold its weight among its predecessors. “Leader of the Pack” starts as a cheering finger-snapping ditty that resembles more butterflies and rainbows instead of their normal rebellious rage. “Road to Hell” is a nice little showcase for Alexis Krauss, but she is backed by a lackadaisical beat.
That is the biggest problem with Reign of Terror; the two of them have some good ideas, but the beats and textures they’re putting them behind. Their first album was original and fun, something that the alternative scene was truly lacking. Instead, their unique sound they once owned, slowed to an underwhelming crawl through the 11 song album.
I don’t want to say it, but I have to; Reign of Terror is really disappointing. Though they have tracks that do go back to the winning formula they made on Treats, I felt like they could have used more of it. The down-tempo nature of Terror is what dragged it down for me. I’m all for changing up styles when you go from album-to-album, but in the case going from Treats to Terror, In this case, I would’ve preferred getting more of the former. It’s a nice listen, but it’s not something I’m going to reach to multiple times – I’d probably reach for Treats instead.
Final Grade: C
Go Download: “Comeback Kid”
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