Sleigh Bells- Reign of Terror (A Review)

Posted: February 21, 2012 in Review
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This is a little new for me. I’ve never done a music review before, but I’m going to go through with it regardless.

My formal education started out in the form of a music education major before I transitioned to Advertising and Public Relations before eventually settling in with my degree in Film Studies. While I am a few years out of practice as a musician, I still believe I can communicate my ideas thoroughly and concisely through written word.

That being said, here is my review of the new Sleigh Bells album titled Reign of Terror (RoT), released by Mom + Pop Records.

I bought this album on Vinyl, because I’ve always enjoyed listening to the sound of the needle as it slides into the virginal groove of a new record. There’s something about that initial pop that sets the mood off right. (Not intentionally meant to be so perversely graphic)

The big factor to buying new albums on vinyl is the fact that, if you are actually paying for your music, it only costs a couple of dollars more, if at all, plus you get a digital download code to get the mp3 version as well. So for nominal extra cost you get your music, digital copy of said music, and in the case of Reign of Terror, an awesome collection of LP sized artwork to frame or do with as you please.

The other reason I bought RoT on vinyl is because I’d already picked up their freshman album Treats as a collector’s edition vinyl, meaning it’s a thicker gauge record plus it’s psychedelically colored which helped guarantee it’s place on the turntable as my friend(s) and I would lay about in the “Lounge” listening to it and other albums for hours on end on countless occasions.

On to the review. This being the Sophomore release after a successful first time run by the noise pop duo based out of Brooklyn, NY, you’d expect some growth out of them musically and stylistically. If you were expecting major change, you’ll be disappointed. If you enjoyed Treats and want more similar music that is just different enough that you can enjoy it as its own album, you’ll be pleasantly surprised…

for the first side of the album at least.

The album kicks off with a live version of “True Shred Guitar” a powerhouse song that continues a strong pulse through the remainder of the first side of the LP. That’s 6 songs that in my humble opinion kind of rock the house. Each of the six show enough growth that tell me that Sleigh Bells are trying to expand their fan base from the Buddy Holly glasses wearing ‘sters that swayed along with “Rill Rill” two years ago when Treats was released. Not to say they’ve abandoned that group. Quite on the contrary, they’ve embraced the fact that they’re first fans are going to be those ‘sters who are going to drive the sales of this new album.

The sloppy guitar riffs of Derek Miller still remain as well as the sometimes indecipherable lyrics sung by Alexis Krauss. But that’s what Sleigh Bells is. The song Crush, third on the release, starts off with almost the same beat as “Crown on the Ground” from Treats, but quickly turns into its own song leaving it’s roots behind as it progresses.

The biggest joy from this album came when I flipped over to side two which concluded the album with five final songs. The first being “Demons”. The tones that rang through my vintage Sansui speakers were incendiary. I was beginning to think that the Sleigh Bells had surpassed Treats and come out with an amazing new album that I would listen all the way through countless times.

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

The final four songs pale in comparison to the rest of the album. Even as the final notes of “Demons” faded from my ringing ears, I was bombarded with the rhythmically repeating sounds the band used much more effectively on Treats as well as the first seven songs on RoT.

The final songs felt empty, like they’d given up. It took a lot to finish listening to the rest of the album while fighting the urge to flip the record back over to the front side and just forgetting the second side existed.

On a final note, RoT is an incredible release for a Sophomore album chasing the coat-tails of an impossible freshman run that was Treats. I still have hopes that Sleigh Bells will continue to grow and hopefully the next album will be a complete success and not have the drop off at the end like this one does.

I will be listening to the first side of this album for a while though. And over all, if you can get an album and enjoy 7 out of the 11 produced tracks on it, you’ve made a good buy.

TRACKS TO LISTEN TO NOW: True Shred Guitar, Comeback Kid, Demons, End of the Line.

Here’s a couple of their songs and where you may have recognized them before knowing who they are;

Honda Commcercial featuring “Riot Rhythm” off Treats

Video for “Rill Rill” off Treats

Video for “Comeback Kid” from Reign of Terror

And a bonus track. The original song by Funkadelic that Sleigh Bells sampled for “Riot Rhythm”

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