Reign of Terror – a Review

Another month, another Brooklyn-based electronic duo with a new album! But unlike Chairlift, whose forebears might include Eurythmics and the Human League, Sleigh Bells seek their inspiration from the likes of Joan Jett.

Their first album contained its fair share of frivolity amid the endless metal riffing, and at least one perfect pop song in Rill Rill, but the follow up – Reign of Terror – finds them in a far darker place, and the album suffers for it.

Their ‘agenda’, as the album title might suggest, is one of confrontation and violence. This is further alluded to in the lyrics of first track True Shred Guitars.

On your knees, on your knees, suffer please.
On your knees, carry me, M16.
If you’ve seen what I’ve seen, bury me.
Burn the streets, baby please, finish me.

But the details of their ‘agenda’ are never revealed. Who or what are they against, if anything? Why the repeated references to self-destruction?

Of course, this metal and death fixation could be part of the fun, it just doesn’t sound like fun!

One of the most appealing aspects of Treats was the interplay between Miller’s guitar work and the voice of Alexis Krauss – sometimes sweet, sometimes sassy. Reign of Terror turns the guitars up to 11 at the expense of the vocals, which makes the already ambiguous lyrics even harder to hear.

Many of the tracks suggest a conflict, with the protagonist both attracted and repelled (often violently) by the subject. Track 3, Crush, is a good example.

I gotta crush on
I gotta crush you
Baby please
I gotta crush on
I gotta crush you now.

And in Road to Hell.

Don’t run away from me baby
Just go away from me baby
Don’t run away from me baby
Just go away from me baby.

There are some good tunes here – End of the Line, Comeback Kid and You Lost Me are all winners – but the lyrics of even these slightly sweeter sounding tracks are just as tortured. For example, End of the Line opens with this grim image.

The nightmare lies in the mourning
When the birds are bleeding.

Not a great way to start the day, I’d suggest.

So – what to make of Reign of Terror? I’m a little disappointed and feel they’ve made a few mistakes. I’d like to see them drop some of the metal clichés and posturing, and stick to great tunes. I wouldn’t class this album a failure by any means; I just think they’re capable of so much more.

Review by Tidy Boy

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