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Reign of Terror

February 21, 2012 | Format: MP3

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Format: Audio CD
Ok, I do admit that I have a strangelove for indie music duos (the Kills, Matt & Kim, White Stripes, the Raveonettes, etc.) but this entire weekend I could barely pull myself away from obsessing over the Sleigh Bell's new album `Reign of Terror' - epically heavy guitars, sick drum beats, highlighted with catchy neon tinted 90s vocals. Its crazy to think that Derek Miller (formerly of Poison the Well) and Alexis Krauss (a Rhodes scholar nominee) could forge such a captivatingly FRESH brand of noise-pop, but on this record they've managed to give a big F-U to the sophomore curse that plagues so many artists. While their debut `Treats' had a far more raw unfocused party nihilism quality about it, here they shine with polished tracks that sparkle like the blue eyes of an illegitimate love child of a headbanger who boinked one of the Go-Go's.

From the title of the LP, in addition to the various namesakes along its tracklisting, you can perceive that Miller dove deep into the dark catharsis that always seems to generate incredible work (he has recently dealt with the death of his father - motorcycle crash, and his mother's diagnosis with cancer). In the semi-live opening track `True Shred Guitar' Alexis evokes the semblance of a punk siren princess, whilst Derek wails on his instrument in true guitar god fashion = a mashup that is an epic WIN in my book. What's more, the album fluctuates nicely between almost industrial beat-laden rock anthems (Demons) assorted lighthearted fare dressed up in a dreary and more mature context (Leader of the Pack, Born to Lose) with a few more upbeat distortion tracks thrown in for good measure (Comeback Kid, Crush). It has been awhile since I could listen to an album through and through and be this excited about it, they've done a stellar job here! Playing to sold-out venues in LA and San Fran this week, Sleigh Bell's second album drops this Tuesday, February 21st CHECK.IT.OUT!!!
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Format: Audio CD
I've been looking forward to Reign Of Terror. Seeing them rock SNL last week...made me feel like a teenager again, watching a favorite band. And you know....Alexis.

There's an excitement to their sound, an energy and jolt of fun. I believe it's a case of opposites attracting. He from the punk-metal background, she from pop. They make it work. The aggressive guitar riffs, pounding keyboards, and the girly vocals over top. Just listen to "Comeback Kid" 2-3 times. If that doesn't hook you, move on to something safer.

There's a lot of loud sounds on this album, but it's both noisy and beautiful. That's it....it's a beautiful noise.

The booklet has no pics of Alexis which is a crime. However I love the small print that says "Derek exclusively plays Jackson guitars", then it says "Alexis exclusively eats strawberry Pop Tarts". Good stuff.
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Multi-instrumentalist Derek Miller and vocalist Alexis Krauss kick serious noise-pop ass on their sophomore album "Reign of Terror", starting with my favorite song "True Shred Guitar" which delivers on its title in spades. Amped-up, overdriven guitars carry Alexis' chanted vocals into the sonic stratosphere. The duo slows down with the mournful "Born To Lose" before bouncing back with "Crush" with classic Alexis cheer leading vocals and Derek's exploding-bomb percussion and reverb-heavy guitars. My other favorites include "Leader of the Pack" (an original, not a cover of the old Shangri-Las hit); the fabulous "Comeback Kid" with sweet, pretty vocals accompanied by bone-crushing percussion and some great guitar licks; the thrashy, pummeling, cheerleader-powered "Demons"; the slower, very melodic "You Lost Me" with its swooping lead guitar lines and the addictively repetitive "Never Say Die".
Tons of credit go to Shane Stoneback for a spot-on mix regardless of the fact that some critics found it too clean or too `produced'.

The images in the accompanying booklet perfectly convey Sleigh Bells' essence and sound- wildfires, Derek's beloved Jackson guitars, rifles, warfare paraphernalia and effects boxes (similar to the the ones I use as a songwriter/performer!) are all lovingly depicted here.

Viva Jackson guitars and strawberry Pop Tarts!
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I LOVED Treats. I went to my local record store the day it was supposed to be released, found it was delayed, waited, it finally came out, what an amazing album. Saw them at the tiny sweaty Detroit Bar in Costa Mesa, CA after waiting through three opening bands. Jumped up and down, sang along, had my ear drums blown, loved it.

Then comes Reign Of Terror. First, the vocals, they are fine, Alexis' limited range is as you'd expect. For her, this is Treats part 2. Second, Derek on guitar, he has two settings: Queen (Yes!) and Whitesnake (Oh God, Why?!?). When he's channeling Brian May (over-dubbed guitar lines) it works like a dream, but when he's just crunching through power chords, I'm bored and want it to end ASAP. Where are the carefully crafted riffs from your last album? Third, the "drums" are horrific. You've heard better synth drums from Prince in 1984. How many times will Derek keep returning to the same well of fake hand claps, finger snaps, and insanely fast kick drums? Even with the primitive sounds, could you please be more inventive? After the first track (which is quite good, but merely half a song), I feel like I'm hearing the same drum loop over and over.

I'm not looking for Treats part two, but it seems that that the guitarist/producer has been replaced with a record exec from the 80's, maybe someone who worked with Poison or Warrant. Reign of Terror could have been great. It's not. It's 80's nostalgia at its worst.
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