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Hair metal plus hip-hop equals success for Sleigh Bells

March 1st, 2012

Sleigh Bells ring again with their new album “Reign of Terror.” Are you listening?

But seriously. Listen. And excuse the cheesy allusion to the Christmas carol.

The Brooklyn duo back up their ultra-loud first release, 2009’s “Treats,” with a strong sophomore effort.

Producer/guitarist Derek Miller’s intricate, guitar-based melodies and beats keep the hip-hop feel from “Treats” alive to some extent.

Tracks such as “Comeback Kid,” “Born to Lose” and “Crush” all have elements that remind us of “Treats,” with singer Alexis Krauss layering heavy cheerleader-esque chants over Miller’s airy guitar layering.

As the album progresses, a taste of hair and death metal that we are teased with in the opening track, “True Shred Guitar,” is sprinkled onto the  happy-sounding album.

Echoes of Judas Priest and Def Leppard come to mind when listening to the second half of the album with tracks like “Demons” and the “Road to Hell.”

The album closes with the somewhat haunting “D.O.A.,” which sounds like a misplaced prayer chanted by Krauss over Miller’s repetitive entrancing guitar.

As dark as Miller’s guitar sounds are, you’re constantly picked up by Krauss’ light voice that we have come to associate with the group’s pop-rock anthem, “Rill, Rill.”

Her voice stands in direct contrast to the metal-influenced melodies.

What Sleigh Bells accomplishes with “Reign of Terror” is not a continuation of the beat fueled fun that is to be had on “Treats,” but the beauty and the beast dynamic they create on the new album.

The beautiful floating voice of Krauss and the dark and sometimes scary guitar effects of Miller combine to form a beautiful monster.

Miller’s music becomes so rhythmic at times that perhaps it seems it doesn’t matter what Krauss is saying. Her voice becomes another instrument rather than singing poetic lyrics with meaning designed to connect to the listener.

On “Treats,” Sleigh Bells never took the foot off the gas. On “Reign of Terror,” though, songs like  “Leader of the Pack” and “End of the Line” move at a slower pace foreign to the noise-pop that made the duo famous.

While some fans of the first album may feel a little disconnected from the original, anthem pop feel of “Treats,” others will be happy with the new direction.

Both will agree on the fact that at times, “Reign of Terror,” embodies the pure cathartic fun of “Treats” but with a hint of genuine pathos.

Not to say that Sleigh Bells have grown up, or become more serious, but rather they have a more profound sound and meaning in their applause-deserving second effort.