Review Summary: "A silent cut above the rest."
Massachusetts metalcore maniacs Ice Nine Kills have finally returned with The Silver Scream
, the long awaited follow up to the horrifyingly wonderful spectacle that was 2015's Every Trick in the Book
. This proverbial sequel to that masterpiece is cut from the same cloth as its predecessor. Whereas Every Trick in the Book
was inspired by different works of literature, every song on this album is based off of various horror films. "A Nightmare on Elm Street", "Friday the 13th" and "Jaws" are just a few of the films that inspired the band's latest helping of catchy choruses, punishing breakdowns and instrumental prowess that is, at times, just too God damn fun to not enjoy.
From the opening moments of "The American Nightmare", the listener is pleasantly reminded that the band who recorded Every Trick in the Book
is still behind the microphone. The band is still providing a symphonic take on metalcore, with talented and versatile lead singer Spencer Charnas helping to secure a contemporary identity for the group. "The American Nightmare" features some tantalizing basslines, backed by technically proficient instrumentals. JD DeBlieck still contributes vocals while manning the guitar, synths and other duties, but the band is primarily led by Spencer and the formula works. He's one of the best singers in heavy metal today and he takes every chance to let his pipes shine.
"Thank God It's Friday" and "Stabbing in the Dark" see Spencer try different techniques vocally. Backed by ominous synths and basslines on the latter track, he sounds somewhat reminiscent of Motionless in White's Chris Cerulli and Trivium's Matt Heafy. I'm unsure if this is intentional, but the approach is by no means a failure and suits the more polished composition and production. It's worth noting, moreover, that this album definitely plays like one that was cut in the bowels of Fearless Records, but the band never loses its niche or identity in the process. "A Grave Mistake" is a vivid example of this. Discarding screamed vocals almost entirely, Spencer and company make a case for getting played on the radio with some rugged hard rock overtones creeping their way in. Spencer's vocals are still excellent and the execution can't be argued with.
"Rocking the Boat" is an album highlight for a plethroa of reasons. The band's former singer Jeremy Schwartz makes a guest appearance and the track's lyrics reference each of the band's past albums at least once in what plays like a triumphant celebration of the band's history and legacy up to this point. It's still unabashedly and proudly Ice Nine Kills, playing to their strengths and flair for thematic tension, but it's also a chance for the group to raise their glasses, essentially, to where they've been, how far they've come and where they're going.
"Enjoy Your Slay" is another feature I'm glad made the final cut. Originally released in May 2017 to close out the Every Trick in the Book
era, it's been slighly tweaked and retooled to fit the production of this album. Not only is this song based off "The Shining", but Stanley Kubrick's grandson Sam, of the UK band Shields, contributes guest vocals in what is a terrific tie-in to Stanley Kubrick's legacy. Sam provides great screams to compliment Spencer's range of highs and lows, but he even gets a chance to showcase his singing chops on the final chorus and he shows up in that regard also.
"Freak Flag" follows the more contemporay route that some songs up to this point have followed. Spencer provides another example of why a vocal talent as superb as his doesn't belong in the shadows. He's a strong and convincing frontman for this group and that's just one of many reasons why The Silver Scream
is a must hear. Tony Lovato of Mest makes an appearance on "The World In My Hands." Playing like a song that would have fit right at home on the band's 2014 album The Predator Becomes The Prey
, they further hone in their symphonic genes and the raw, authentic production value plays right into their hands. "Merry Axe-Mas" is a fast-paced spectacle; you'll barely notice there's holiday bells chiming in the background admist the satisfyingly horrific noise. The drums and lead guitar are particularly audible here and carry the pace along with a flourish.
"Love Bites" reminds the listener of "Tess-Timony" from Every Trick in the Book
. Featuring guest vocals from Chelsea Talmadge, the hard rock balladry is appropriately placed and Spencer's versatile vocal talents work and succeed within the spit-polished composition. It gets a little too squeaky clean at times, but that can be easily forgiven. "IT Is The End", meanwhile, closes out the album in a much more signature Ice Nine fashion, using every second to bludgeon the listener with every bit of aggression that's built up over the album's near fifty minute runtime.
The Silver Scream
is every bit the worthy follow up to Every Trick in the Book
fans have patiently pined for. The band expands their horizons, hones in their craft and makes a few cases for getting played on the radio, but they also celebrate their history, double down on their symphonic and technically sound take on metalcore and provide fans with the red meat. There's still plenty of heaviness, a lot
of breakdowns and a range of different screamed vocals. Fan or not, you have to appreciate what Ice Nine Kills have accomplished. They've extended an olive branch to potential new fans without alienating any longtime ones. Here's to Ice Nine Kills, providing one of the most enjoyable nightmares you could possibly find and one of 2018's best releases, just in time for Halloween.