The fact that Ice Nine Kills’ most successful work to date is 2015’s Every Trick In The Book says a lot about what they did on that album, and how they were able to twist the overworked, overcooked metalcore tropes of the time into something more interesting and captivating. There’s nothing particularly deep about basing each song on a classic work of literature, but for a band aiming to be more outwardly theatrical and flamboyant, as well as take an already-polished brand of metalcore to its extremities, it was a good way to circumvent any derivativeness. But that sort of technique could quickly shift from a fun novelty to an outright gimmick, and the fact that The Silver Scream is essentially the same thing but replacing books for horror films is slightly disconcerting; it’s the sort of thing that works for one album, sure, but to build on it even further with more releases, you need to make sure everything goes exactly as planned.
And yet, The Silver Scream teeters on the edge of being outright farcical that it’s not even funny most of the time. It’s too reliant of references and samples to make considerable headway on its own; modulation of any kind is basically nonexistent in a mix that’s almost constantly bursting at the seams; and an almost sickly-sweet level of polish pushes it even further from being taken at all seriously. That’s all probably the point though, with Ice Nine Kills knowing that this whole thing is a ridiculous idea and running with it. And while the final product is nothing mind-blowing with some seriously questionable decisions made, it can be strangely enjoyable, and quite often as well.
Granted, that all depends on individual viewpoints of a metalcore album based entirely on classic horror films, especially seeing as Ice Nine Kills aren’t downplaying that side of it whatsoever. Even as the impressions and samples from Friday The 13th on Thank God It’s Friday or The Shining on Enjoy Your Slay only serve as one more thick layer to weigh down this already lumbering wall of sound even further, they at least fit, and it’s impressive to see how much Ice Nine Kills are throwing themselves into this concept. It doesn’t even feel like it needs to be said that it’s taken too far at points either, like the horn squeaks and Pennywise the Clown impressions on IT Is The End, or trying to make An American Werewolf In London a ballad on Love Bites, but the collage of homages to Jaws on Rocking The Boat is done genuinely well, and the amount of ludicrously catchy moments that Ice Nine Kills are able to pack in is something of an incentive to persevere when things get a bit too silly.
It’s really the same for the instrumentation too, though for creating the sort of manic, theatrical backing that songs like these need, it’s easier to give a pass to than just another bargain bin metalcore song. And while the production could be eased back by a sizable amount so everything isn’t completely crushed together, it’s clear that Ice Nine Kills have spared now expense in making this album sound as flashy and expensive as possible. Synths, horns and strings are all present almost all the way through, and that naturally does mean that different elements are fighting for space when there’s really only a finite amount, and when that also comes alongside the choral backing vocals on The Jig Is Up or the Christmas carol interlude on Merry Axe-Mas, it makes for one seriously stuffed album that’s hard to breathe amongst for the majority of the time. But again, that feels like the point, as Ice Nine Kills have cranked the bombast to stupidly high levels if only to highlight how ludicrous this whole thing actually is. The fact that it actually works for what they’re trying to do is borderline miraculous.
That might as well be the tag line for this album as a whole, too. Everything here could’ve gone so wrong in so many ways, and yet Ice Nine Kills have managed to pull it all back and make something that’s actually halfway decent. And by no means does that infer that The Silver Scream is some genre-defining masterpiece, but it’s arguably better than it has any right to be, and that’s worth giving Ice Nine Kills at least some credit. Even if it’s not the most mentally stimulating listen, there’s fun to be had with this one regardless.
For fans of: Motionless In White, Issues, Set It Off
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘The Silver Scream’ by Ice Nine Kills is released on 5th October on Fearless Records.