Electronic heavy metal, digital hardcore, noise pop: the list goes on and on for the combination of words that describes Brooklyn-bred duo Sleigh Bells. They just dropped their second studio album, “Reign of Terror,” which is decidedly less spontaneous than their first album and a lot darker, but with the ability to get people up and dancing.
The album kicks off with a faux-live rock concert, “True Shred Guitar,” promising more of the loud, brash, noisy beats that the band is known for. What’s best about this song, and the album as a whole, is that it’s still fun and Derek Miller and Alexis Krauss never take themselves too seriously. Krauss’s breathy voice might not translate well live on top of the crashing production (the recent “Saturday Night Live” performance, for example) but that is something that can be improved upon. On the album, there’s always a backtrack of voices, but that isn’t easily recreated on a live stage.
There’s a lot more heartfelt and sincere tracks like “End of the Line” and “Road to Hell.” There’s a story these two are trying to tell, but noise they produce sometimes drowns it out. That’s good news, because it means there’s something more to tell. Is it coincidence that the title of their album and some of the track names are actually names of underground hardcore bands? It’s in line with the darker tone of the album.
The best track is probably the teeth-chattering anthem “Demons,” which is playful and intoxicating. This is the kind of song that would probably be the opening number in an ‘80s teen movie about coming-of-age outcasts. If this song doesn’t get your blood moving, then this album’s purpose is lost on you.
This is a true sophomore album. As a pair, Krauss and Miller grew up a little bit and figured out what they wanted their sound to be and they’ll continue to shift and alter their sound as they grow. While their first album, “Treats,” has a certain “holy crap” factor, “Reign of Terror” is trying to get a little deeper than that. One thing still remains constant: these kids love their drum machines.