Review Summary: Ice Nine Kills is back and they're at the top of their game. Where will they go from here?
It's been a long two and a half years since quintet, Ice Nine Kills have released any new music. Hailing from Boston Massachusetts and consisting of founding member and lead vocalist, Spencer Charnas, lead guitarist Justin deBlieck, rhythm guitarist Justin Morrow, bassist Steven Koch and drummer Conor Sullivan, Ice Nine Kills has finally released their much awaited EP release,"The Predator".
"The Predator EP" is 5 tracks long, including a cover of Adele's "Someone Like You". The EP kicks off strongly with lead single (released when their kick starter was announced) "The Coffin is Moving". Lyrically, the track is strong, describing how our current generation has made "***ing up into lifelong careers".
It also contains an infectiously catchy chorus that will get get you singing along passionately in no time. By the end of the track it leaves the audience begging for more and that's exactly what the listener receive when the low, aggravated scream of Charnas burst into your ears with the crushing line "Go, walk away, as the sad drunk that you are now." your ears, accompanied by a heavy guitar riff and hard hitting drums. Introducing next track, "Father's Day". This song is arguably the best to come out of the EP and out of these musicians since their induction into the music scene. Charnas' vocal delivery in this track, let alone the whole release, is near flawless and he definitely deserves a great amount of recognition for his improvement. His screams are full of hate, anger and have a sheer aggression as he yells out the lines, "to be pushed and pulled/I swear never again never defend/what you are". Charnas' vocal performance in this song is definitely not short of passion as he sings and screams about exactly what the title suggests. The outstanding vocal delivery is accompanied by an impressive, hard hitting performance behind the kit from Sullivan, as to go with frantic and well composed guitar sections from both deBlieck and Morrow. By the time the chorus comes along you're almost out of breath. The chorus of this song is definitely a treat as it allows the course of the momentum and the tempo of the song to take a slower turn. The guitars go from heavy to melodic, the drum lines from hard hitting and quick paced to slow and complimenting and the harsh screams take a turn to soaring cleans, Charnas showing off his talent as his voice takes a beautifully hurt tone, Charnas' voice changing levels and tones to project his emotions even more effectively. Overall, "Father's Day" is a highlight in the EP and will definitely be one of the songs that will come to mind when the release is thought back on.
Next up, is the track, "What I Never Learned in Study Hall". It features guest vocals from Tyler Carter and it's the most melodic song off the EP. The track is the only song off "Predator" that doesn't contain any screams, although it does contain some heavy instrumentation throughout. As soon as you see that Carter features on this track you immediately realise that you're in for a vocal treat, and that's exactly what is delivered. However, surprisingly, Charnas outshines Carter. Soon after Carter is introduced, Charnas follows with a passionate, extremely enjoyable vocal performance. Overall, "What I Learned in Study Hall" isn't the best track off the "Predator", however it is certainly an enjoyable listen.
The next track up is "A Reptiles Dysfunction" and can be described as the heaviest Ice Nine Kills song ever released. Everything about this song is heavy, from the guitars, the vocals, the drums and it only really let's up during the pre-chorus. You really do get a good look at Charnas' screaming range during the track and also the potential Ice Nine Kills has to be a heavier band, which, in hindsight they would be able to do fairly impressively.
The final track off the EP, is a cover of Adele's Someone Like You". The band releases the cover a while ago through YouTube, and despite some people's opinion I feel like it does deserve a place on the EP and is a fitting end to what is a really promising and exciting EP. This song is definitely of higher standards than something you'd find in a 'Punk Goes Pop' and it is definitely something an listener would be able to enjoy.
"Predator" is definitely something both old fans and curious listeners should get their hands on because it definitely holds something for most listeners of the genre. It has something for those fans looking for something heavy, something softer, something catchy and it could even appeal to Adele fans.
Despite this, there are some flaws in the EP, such as it does contain slight hints of generic material, such as chugging and breakdowns, however this is usually countered with melody, rather than another breakdown five seconds later. Another thing that suffers is the production, however, it's not unbearable and it is to expected through a self release. My last peeve is that the bass throughout the release isn't all too noticeable and a more audible bass could definitely add to the things to like about this release.
Despite these flaws, "Predator" has spectacular drum work and unpredictable, impressive leads all the more complimented by near flawless vocals. "Predator" could well be described as the bands best album to date and though it doesn't completely change the scene, it certainly does bring something new to the table.