Album Review: Reign of Terror

★★★★★

After exploding onto the music scene with 2010’s Treats, noise-pop duo Sleigh Bells finally released their highly anticipated sophomore full-length album Reign of Terror on Feb. 21.

True to their genre, Sleigh Bells tracks are always incredibly noisy to the extent that the music can be overwhelming. While considered a form of pop, the distinct beat created by Alexis Krauss and Derek Miller can be compared more to a hip-hop sound than to other pop and rock sounds.

The album kicks off with “True Shred Guitar,” which stays true to its name. The rough strumming on the guitar creates the dominant sound of the track. Not to be denied, Krauss comes forth with strong vocals as rough, if not more so, than the sound of Miller’s guitar.

Though a little quieter, the best track on the album is easily “End of the Line,” which uses a synthesizer to augment the distinctive Sleigh Bells beat that permeates the entirety of the album. Krauss’ lyrics are more discernible than usual but still difficult to catch. They also take on a more haunting beautiful sound that really shows the listener that this is the pinnacle of what the duo has accomplished so far.

“Demons” achieves the album’s most violent sound, yet all of the instruments are coordinated to make it sound like a high-budget action movie. Krauss should be applauded for her ability to match the octave of the instrumental sounds in every track and this song is no different – she sounds as violent as the angry strumming of any guitar.

“Road to Hell” appears as a steady, slower successor to “Demons” than expected but nonetheless does the job of linking the two together. Throughout the album an instrument is used to emulate the sound of something getting riddled with gunshots. While it’s not as outwardly violent as its preceding track, Krauss and Miller on “Road to Hell” do a fantastic job of portraying the subject falling to his or her inner demons.

“Never Say Die” is very heavy on the electric guitar which clearly trumps the vocals, as they are mostly indiscernible, as well as absent for long periods of time throughout the song.

A very dynamic album with different sounds throughout, Reign of Terror still represents a distinct sound that only Sleigh Bells possesses. This is likely their strongest work yet.