LIVE REVIEW: Ice Nine Kills @ Club Academy, Manchester (25/09/2019)

Credit: Lindsey Byrnes

Date: September 25th, 2019
Venue: Club Academy, Manchester
Support: Values


It’s been almost two years since Ice Nine Kills were last over in the UK, and a lot has happened for the Boston troupe since then thanks to their latest full-length effort, ‘The Silver Scream’.

Dedicating a record of tracks in tribute to horror classics and favourites has allowed the metalcore outfit to really push through the ranks of their peers over the past 12 months, and now on their second ever headline UK tour they’re not only selling out shows, they’re seeing venue upgrades, and tonight is one of those.

Coming in as the sole support act for the evening are Leeds based up-and-comers Values [7], who have enough riffs and grooves in the bank to give bands even thrice their stature a run for their money. It’s pits aplenty from the get go, and it’s impressive how frontman Nathan Baker manages to control the crowd with ease. If you’re not banging your head to the likes of ‘Conscience Cleared’, then there’s probably something wrong with you.

Ever the horror fanatics, a sole red balloon a la the clown killer franchise IT floats alone at the front of the stage whilst we wait for Ice Nine Kills [9] to show, who eventually come clad in the clothes and masks of some of the most iconic figures in the world of horror cinema.

Indeed, incorporating the most blood curdling side of film into their work was a massive step in the right direction for Ice Nine Kills to really incorporate visuals and theatrics into their performances, bolstering their shows from just another gig to a memorable experience.

Set opener ‘The American Nightmare’ sets the tone for the rest of the evening. Frontman Spencer Charnas is dressed in Freddy Krueger’s striped jumper and jeans combo and Jason Voorhees’ body suit split right down the middle, bringing out props relevant to each track. A machete is wielded for ‘Thank God It’s Friday’, he shoves on a Christmas hat and swings an axe during ‘Merry Axe-Mas’, and he shoves on John Kramer’s dissected face for ‘The Jig Is Up’.

If that wasn’t quite enough to bring the drama into their set, they also have accompanying additional cast coming out for relevant tracks; a woman plays and sings the parts of Pamela Voorhees for ‘Thank God It’s Friday’, and, in an unexpected turn of events, someone in a giant inflatable shark costume comes out to the forefront to try and devour the band during ‘Rocking The Boat’.

Thankfully, however, it’s not all style over substance. The mid-section in ‘The Jig Is Up’ sounds monumental in a live setting, the breakdown riff over the “Ki-ki-ki ma-ma-ma” refrain in ‘Thank God It’s Friday’ is monolithic, the one-two of ‘A Grave Mistake’ and ‘Love Bites’ offers a well-placed breather of ballads mid-set, and even some of the slightly older numbers like ‘Hell In The Hallways’ and ‘Communion Of The Curse’ can hold their own against the more fleshed out cuts of their latest LP.

Unsurprisingly, the best is saved until last with the delivery of their grandiose recognition to Pennywise the Clown in set closer, ‘IT Is The End’. On the album, the track funnels and disperses all of the best qualities they’ve come to master on ‘The Silver Scream’, and it truly comes into its own when performed live. Charnas‘ vocals from start-to-finish are on point, the gritty riffs from Ricky Armellino and Dan Sugarman buzzsaw their way through the mix, and Patrick Galante‘s militant drum work really helps Joe Occhiuti‘s bass to pop.

After the dust settles on that epic set finale, it’s proven in spades how ‘The Silver Scream’ has allowed Ice Nine Kills to marry their fetish for horror and the macabre with the aggressive assault of metalcore into one perfect and streamlined package. For now their sets are already a spectacle, but if a sequel album of horror film tributes materialises, what they could deliver might easily evolve towards the stature of big boys like Marilyn Manson and Rob Zombie.

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