“The thirteen tracks which you are about to hear were long ago hidden away, deemed too grotesque for public consumption by the American recording industry. Recently, however, they were unearthed by the homicide unit of the L.A.P.D. These tracks would soon gain infamy as key evidence; allegedly linking Ice Nine Kills frontman, Spencer Charnas, to the brutal slaying of his 28-year old fiancé. Though the original title of this disturbing collection of songs remains unknown, these cuts would forever be remembered as…Welcome to Horrorwood.”
After a series of singles, horror-themed heavy metal band Ice Nine Kills has released a brand-new album (and their first sequel!), Welcome to Horrorwood. I reviewed their first single from the album when it was released earlier this year, and while the singles that followed were in a similar vein, I was delighted to find that the complete album included some fantastic songs I hadn’t previously heard.
Continuing the tradition began by Horrorwood’s predecessor The Silver Scream, each track off of Horrorwood was inspired in some way, either lyrically, musically or both, by a classic horror film. Some of them are more obvious — “The Shower Scene” takes cues from Psycho, for example — and some references are more deep-cut.
Even now, twenty-one years after their founding, Ice Nine Kills is venturing into new territory and I am loving it. The pre-album singles were all accompanied by sleek, big-budget music videos, all featuring lead vocalist Spencer Charnas in a gradually building narrative that relates to the spoken lyrics of the opening track (reprinted at the top of this page). Eventually, more through lines began to emerge in the videos, including recurring appearances by horror icon Bill Moseley and Dead Meat founders James A. Janisse and Chelsea Rebecca. I can appreciate a band exercising their evident ingenuity, and Ice Nine Kills certainly succeeds with these ideas.
Additionally, as any band should, Ice Nine Kills (or INK) continues to evolve, especially in their sound. Various articles on Horrorwood describe it as one that “retains its predecessor’s metalcore sound,” but also as “abandoning the post-hardcore, heavy metal, and symphonic metal sound of [The Silver Scream].” I’m not nearly well-versed enough in the world of heavy metal to make confident statements on the matter, but INK remains as one of the few metal bands I can tolerate. Perhaps this is just because I enjoy their lyrics and connections to the horror films I love, but I also think it’s because it’s not just metal. As I mentioned in my review for the debut single, “Hip to Be Scared,” a fair amount of their songs dabble in acoustic guitar, piano and softer melodies, which is when I get the most enjoyment out of their songs.
My favorite tracks from Welcome to Horrorwood include those elements, including “Ex-Mørtis” (inspired by The Evil Dead) and the closing song, the Candyman-inspired “Farewell II Flesh.” The opening track, “Welcome to Horrorwood,” is also a very strong entry, and a great start, to the album.
The Silver Scream is a good sign. I’m glad that Ice Nine Kills is continuing their trend of releasing good music that can be enjoyed by a wide range of people, and they’re only getting more and more creative with their marketing and execution. They still haven’t made a metalcore fan of our me, but who knows what the future holds? [Grade: A]