An appearance on Saturday Night Live is certainly one way to thrust a band into the national spotlight. That’s not entirely the case with Sleigh Bells. Their 2010 album Treats came out of nowhere to enthrall and repel audiences on a very large scale. They created a huge internet buzz and not-quite silently developed a following.
Reign of Terror is much more accessible to the average ear than Treats was. Alexis Krauss had more contributions in the writing process this time around. As a result, the songs are a little more coherent and guitar-heavy, relying less than ever on cobbled together samples. On some level, and depending on your taste, that could be a good thing or it could be a step back from the weirdness you were expecting. This newfound (relative) restraint comes at a price, though. There seems to be a definite lack of energy throughout the album.
Most of the songs don’t take too long at all to launch into the main riff, and while some of those are very good, but most of the songs don’t really go anywhere. They catch a modest wave and ride it out for three minutes. Krauss often comes across as bored with her ethereal, distorted vocals keeping a similar sound for the whole album. Her delivery is very listless.
With this infuriating sameness, it’s a small victory to say that there aren’t any especially bad songs (excluding the ridiculous pseudo-live intro of ‘True Shred Guitar.’) First single ‘Comeback Kid’ is one of the more memorable songs and ‘End of the Line’ is reserved, yet has a vaguely catchy chorus. ‘Demons’ is appreciably aggressive as long as you don’t mind the predominantly cheerleader-style vocals. ‘You Lost Me’ almost has an 80’s vibe going on.
Many Sleigh Bells enthusiasts will buy this without any hesitation. Some of them will be very happy while others will be very disappointed. Casual fans would be advised to stream this before dropping their hard-earned dollars on it.
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When J.J. Ellis isn’t writing as the Allentown DVD Examiner, his Decent Exposure Radio can be heard on the air every Friday night from 10:30 to midnight (EST) on WXLV 90.3 FM or wxlvradio.com!