Ice Nine Kills- The Silver Scream
Released: 5th October 2018
Ice Nine Kills are:
Spencer Charnas: vocals
Justin DeBlieck: vocals, guitar, keyboards
Justin Morrow: guitar, bass
Following the success of 2015’s Every Trick In The Book, a concept album which tackled pieces of literature such as gothic and horror classics Dracula, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, The Exorcist, and Carrie, Ice Nine Kills have decided to embrace their newfound mantle as metalcore’s concept kings by creating The Silver Scream, an album in which each song is based on a horror film. The idea is simultaneously both a bigger challenge and seemingly an easier approach to what has previously worked for them. Movies, unlike novels, have a distinct and clearly identifiable tone, created through the medium of visuals, including music itself. In that regard, it seems as if Ice Nine Kills have picked a less challenging approach than their previous album. However, as film is a medium in which more people are familiar with, and fanatical about, it is easier for audiences to be critical regarding whether the Massachusetts natives have created an effective tribute to their favourite films. It is a delicate balance that requires a deft hand and some skill. So, has Ice Nine Kills achieved this?
‘The American Nightmare’, the first single, opens the album. A homage to A Nightmare on Elm Street, the song starts with a reminder of the importance of sleep, before launching into an insistent drum beat along with Charnas’ smooth vocals seguing into a loud, fast guitar riff. The song’s up tempo beat, hook and various vocals courtesy of both Charnas and DeBlieck, creates that otherworldly feeling of not being sure whether one is asleep or awake. It is a strong, solid start to the album, which nicely prepares the listener for what is about to come. ‘Thank God It’s Friday’, the second single, follows. Similar to ‘The American Nightmare’ in tempo and execution, the song intersperses quotes from its source material, Friday the 13th to add to the atmosphere and create the sinister persona of the antagonist within the song. ‘Stabbing In The Dark’, starts with a clock ticking and subtle bells under Charnas’ lyrics telling the story of how the villain’s violence began fifteen years ago (Halloween/Michael Myers). The music starts soft and beautiful, lulling the listener into submission before the onslaught of gruff vocals, intricate guitar riffs and heavy drum beats. Following the slasher theme with ‘Savages’, the song’s source material is a little less obvious compared to the previous songs, as it avoids using quotes from the film but horror fans would recognise the camera shutter sound effect at the start from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. With the repetition of the hook “we are the savages, eating you alive, the original, villains in the night” the song is intense, loud and voracious.
The next song, ‘The Jig Is Up’, is the album’s weakest point, it is a jigsaw of sorts, with many different elements coming together. However, while creating a song with a variety of sounds and elements are par for the course for Ice Nine Kills, it falls a little short here. The song replicates the tone and atmosphere of the source material (Saw) successfully, but it’s lack of immediate hook make it a little difficult to truly embrace during the first few listens. This is one of those songs that require several listens before you can really get excited about it. One of the slower and sadder moments on the album, ‘A Grave Mistake’, is a tender, distressing and heartbreaking song, whose lyrics transport the listener to a place in which justice is hard to come by. Once again, the song effectively creates the longing and grief within Eric Draven’s (from The Crow) character. ‘Rocking The Boat’, (Jaws) featuring original Ice Nine Kills member, Jeremy Schwartz, picks up the tempo incorporating a timeless metalcore breakdown, before the album transitions to ‘Enjoy Your Slay’, a song that was released in 2017, and added to their previous release Every Trick In The Book as an additional song. Well known by any Ice Nine Kills fan, the song includes Sam Kubrick, grandson of Stanley Kubrick, as a nice nod to the film in which the song is based on, The Shining.
Lyrically and musically the simplest song on the album, ‘Freak Flag’ is a rally cry for all who have been classed as weirdoes, freaks and outcasts. It is an anthem for anyone who has felt different. Although simple, its catchy chorus is powerful in empowering its audience, allowing fans to scream and sing along at the top of their lungs. As a result, it is a song that on first listen, will immediately grab you. Tackling a gothic film rather than a horror film, is a big risk for a band who have been promoting this album as a horror homage. However, the poignancy of a love story gone wrong, the desire to be loved and wanted, is a nice break from all the death and destruction of the other songs. Although Edward Scissorhands is not a classic horror, it certainly has horror type elements (Frankenstein anyone?) and ‘The World In My Hands’ is a beautiful representation of the film’s themes. As Spencer Charnas, himself said, it has a “Danny Elfman vibe”, which adds to the bittersweet emotion of both the song and film. Moving from the sublime to the ridiculous, in terms of movies (Silent Night, Deadly Night), ‘Merry Axe-Mas’, is just fun. With the jingles of Christmas bells scattered throughout the song, the music is hard and fast with its rasping, deep vocals and heavy metal guitar riffs, contrasted with the melodic chorus that is strangely upbeat and innocent.
‘Love Bites’ is the ballad of the album, a duet with Chelsea Talmadge. The song cleverly tells the story of the protagonist in An American Werewolf In London and positions the character of David as very much the victim. It is a nice note to an otherwise frenetic album, with its catchy and dramatic chorus. The final song is the crowning glory of The Silver Scream, it is creepy, childish, disturbing and chaotic. ‘IT is the End’, IS the song version of the recent film version of IT. Similar to ‘The Jig Is Up’, it is composed of many elements. However, here, it works extremely well as it is tied together nicely by the horn section underpinning the entire song, courtesy of ska legends Less Than Jake. The song is simultaneously violent and powerful with its music and lyrics whilst also being exuberant and joyful, straddling the personas of Pennywise the Clown and that of the young children, Georgie, in particular. The song is off the wall and bonkers, but somehow it works. Plus, it’s a metal song you can skank too! (Please note I mean skank as in the dance you do to ska music.)
Spencer Charnas described this album as “the definitive Ice Nine Kills album” during my interview with him (read that here), and the horror aficionado and frontman is absolutely right. It takes all the elements of Every Trick In The Book and builds upon it, creating a feast for the ears. The Silver Scream is more than just music, it is an event. If you love Ice Nine Kills, get on it. If you love horror movies, get on it. If you just love heavy music, get on it.
Ice Nine Kills- The Silver Scream tracklisting
- The American Nightmare
- Thank God It’s Friday
- Stabbing In The Dark
- The Jig Is Up (featuring Randy Strohmeyer)
- A Grave Mistake
- Rocking The Boat (featuring Jeremy Schwartz)
- Enjoy Your Slay (featuring Sam Kubrick)
- Freak Flag
- The World In My Hands (featuring Tony Lovato)
- Merry Axe-Mas
- Love Bites (featuring Chelsea Talmadge)
- IT Is The End (featuring Less Than Jake and Fenix *TX)
Get to know Ice Nine Kills a little better with our Sounds You Need In Your Ears feature article