Album Review: Ice Nine Kills - The Silver Scream 2: Welcome To Horrorwood
Reviewed by Dan Barnes
‘Tis the season, dear readers, when the nights draw in and Halloween is within touching distance, bringing with it all manner of spooks and scares. It is, to quote Conal Cochran, the time when the barriers are down, between the real and the unreal, and maybe the dead might be looking in. Just a matter of weeks ago the (living) dead surely were looking in, in the shape of Yorkshire’s finest Zombie Crew, Send More Paramedics’ latest: The Final Feast
Not to be outdone, Boston’s Horrorcore exponents, Ice Nine Kills, follow up 2018’s The Silver Scream with the inevitable sequel: The Silver Scream 2: Welcome to Horrorwood. Most of the cast return for this continuation, with Ricky Armellino adding keyboard and programming duties to his rhythm guitar role from the first part; and Joseph Occhiuit brings his own unique take on the character of bass player #1.
Opening Night gives a voice over prologue of the story so far and leads into Welcome to Horrorwood, with its piano-led refrain and haunting vocal performance, laying down a foundation of theatricality upon which Ice Nine Kills are able to masterfully weave tales of terror, culled from classic horror movies.
Like its predecessor, The Silver Scream 2 gathers together a dozen stories of dread, from Psycho and Child’s Play to Cabin Fever and Pet Semetery and presents them on a musical canvass so broad as to be a dress-rehearsal of The Cabin in the Woods: The Musical.
Although probably best know as a Metalcore band, Ice Nine Kills demonstrate the breadth of their song-writing abilities across the whole of Welcome to Horrorwood. Being generally based in that genre, I9K are not at all shy of bringing in many disparate elements to supplement the sound of the album. The title track begins with the haunting refrain and melancholic piano, but explodes into signature Metalcore, with added Power Metal and a chunky breakdown, oh and a twiddly solo for good measure.
Ice Nine Kills have been fastidious in their pairing of musical styles with the influencing elements for each track. The Child’s Play inspired Assault/ Batteries is loaded with nods to childhood in the shape of circus music that would not be too alien if you heard it on a Macabre or Mr Bungle record. Rainy Day is a Resident Evil-themed industrial dance track of sorts with massive hooks; and the Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead-based Ex Mortis maintains the original movie’s grotesque tongue-in-cheek sense of humour and packages up in something Rob Zombie would be proud of.
The finest example of the combination of style and substance is shown in the American Psycho-centred Hip to be Scared, which begins like a torch song, incorporates dialogue from Mary Harron’s 2000 cult classic and even repeats a couple of bars of the source material before paraphrasing Patrick Bateman’s comments about Huey Lewis’ track and career trajectory, but using Ice Nine Kills as the subject.
Musically, Welcome to Horrorwood is rooted in Metalcore, but that does not stop it from expanding its reach into other areas such as choral and orchestral passages to adding weight to A Rash Decision or Emo moments in The Shower Scene and The Box. They even get super-heavy and crack out the Death Metal motifs on Funeral Derangements and Take Your Pick and may well have invented a new crossover genre in mixing Metalcore with Power Metal to create Power Metalcore. Remember, folks, you heard it here first.
No sequel would be complete without a few guest stars along for the white-knuckle ride. Welcome to Horrorwood sees cameo appearances from Jacoby Shaddix of Papa Roach, Corpsegrinder of Cannibal Corpse, Brandon Saller of Atreyu, Ryan Kirby of Fit for a King and Buddy Nielsen of Senses Fail, all popping up to lend their vocals to the show.
With the spooky season just around the corner and Send More Paramedics already on the undead march, Ice Nine Kills have presented a sequel to pique the interest as much as the forthcoming Halloween Kills. Ever inventive and never cliched, The Silver Scream 2: Welcome to Horrorwood could well find itself among the contenders come awards season.