Sunday, February 26, 2012

Album Review: Sleigh Bells - Reign Of Terror

I can't make a hipster claim to Sleigh Bells and say "I saw them before they became famous" or "their first album was the best" or "I remember when Alexis Krauss was in RubyBlue" or even "I have the first three albums by Poison the Well when Derek Miller was still in the band". All I can say is that I gave "Reign of Terror" a chance listen and became an instant fan of their rocking guitars mixed with explosive beats and Alexis Krauss's brand of riot grrl vocal delivery. 

After many repeat listens of the album, I imagine that I'm in an alternate universe where sporting events such as Girl's Roller Derby and Skateboarding are the most popular activities to rally behind in high schools across America. All the cheerleaders have tattoos and piercings and skulls emblazoned on their hoodies and baby doll tees. All the guys wear jean jacket vests fitted over motorcycle jackets with buttons and patches of punk and hardcore bands covering every open space. In a way, the music of Alexis Krauss and Derek Miller could very well crossover a lot of metal heads and pop fans seeking the next female diva to follow and obsess over. 

The guitar crunches of Miller's Jackson guitar echo the best of teen angst while Krauss's vocals inspire raised fists and punk rock couple slow dancing respectively. The first track "True Shred Guitar", opens up to a roaring audience that can easily fool the listener that they've mistakenly bought a live album. "Born To Lose" and "Crush" continue the arena anthem rock vibe, while "End Of The Line" could inspire many audiences to pull their lighters out for a power ballad moment.

"Leader Of The Pack" is not a Shangri-La's cover and sounds like it was influenced by Nirvana's catchier songs. "Comeback Kid" is an infectious, catchy, rocking anthem and is a clear cut single that should be blasting on radio stations everywhere if they had any balls. "Demons" comes off as Black Sabbath meets Bikini Kill, while "Road To Hell" and "You Lost Me" harken back to early 60s girl group melodies mixed with muted power chord guitar crunches. 

The closing songs "Never Say Die" and "D.O.A." chug along with a sense of unresolved anxiety and urgency that inevitably cause the listener to hit repeat on the album to remind them that the same album was rocking their eardrums 36 minutes before. I look forward to experiencing the tour that accompanies this album release. Sleigh Bells Rock!

- Mike C.

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