Live: ICE NINE KILLS // O2 Academy Islington, London
With Halloween creeping round the corner, the Ice Nine Kills show was a fitting way to prepare for the upcoming festivities.
Forget every conception you’ve ever had of a live show, because they will all be blown out of the water when you go see Ice Nine Kills. In fact, it may be more accurate to describe their live sets as a spectacle, especially considering all the theatrics that they entail. Even before the band has graced the stage, they’ve set the tone for the evening by playing creepy music and sound snippets from horror movies (including from Psycho) that definitely makes the venue feel quite sinister. Fans play up to the band’s obvious love for all things horror by coming in face paint and dressing up, and it almost feels as if the evening is an early celebration for Halloween instead of a live show.
As some cheesy music takes over the previous eerie soundtrack, it’s almost a juxtaposition to the band who are now taking their places on stage. Decked out in face paints, face masks, and costumes, the band have gone all out to keep in line with the horror movie theme of their last album The Silver Scream, and it’s truly a sight to behold as chainsaws and other props grace the stage to add to their presence.
Opener The American Nightmare sees frontman Spencer Charnas conducting the crowd with a Freddy Krueger-inspired hand piece, and the crowd are eager to follow with a particularly loud singalong in the blistering chorus. With a mask covering parts of his face, Spencer is a formidable presence, but the rest of the band is equally imposing; drummer Patrick Galante dons a terrifying pig mask, guitarist and vocalist Ricky Armellino is dressed up as a bloody Georgie from IT, whilst bassist Joe Occhiuti and guitarist Dan Sugarman intimidate with special effects makeup. Taking their song title Merry Axe-Mas very literally, Spencer waves around an axe whilst wearing a Santa hat, and as the plundering riffs sink into you, the electricity and thrill of the show grips on similarly tightly.
Thank God It’s Friday sees the band bringing out actors for the first time, although this is by no means the last time during the show that the band takes the theatrics to a whole new level. People in shark costumes infiltrate the stage during Rocking The Boat, paying homage to the movie JAWS which inspired the track, and it’s hard to tell whether we felt more tension from watching the band delivering a gripping performance or from the menacing riffs that lace the track.
Stabbing In The Dark heightens the suspense even further with Spencer faux-stabbing a woman, but it’s the final few tracks that frames this evening as a night like no other. Playing into his character, Spencer thrashes around almost as if he is possessed during Communion Of The Cursed, and to the crowd’s further delight, he jumps in and crowdsurfs, all without missing a beat. Coming back for an encore of IT Is The End, the band are preceded by a character in a Mickey Mouse costume and it’s time for one final mask change from Spencer, who terrorises with a clown get-up and a mocking taxi horn.
There really are no showmen like Ice Nine Kills, and Friday night has proven them to be completely in a league of their own when it comes to the live circuit. With every small detailed considered, the band has truly outshone with their performance and hooking melodies. They are not to be slept on, but if the night’s antics are anything to go by, you would be too scared at the end of their show to sleep anyways.
Photos: Athena Kam