Ice Nine Kills – The Silver Scream 2: Welcome to Horrorwood (Album Review)

Hannibal Lecter knows how to throw a great dinner party, Ghostface is a natural at phone foreplay, and Jigsaw? He’s a puzzling one. Ice Nine Kills, you ask? Well, they just want to be in the sequel! Thankfully, they have survived zombie outbreaks, killer kids’ play, and a psychotic shower experience to bring that dream to fruition, and now they are ready to pull back the curtain on the follow-up to 2018’s The Silver Scream. The aptly-titled The Silver Scream 2: Welcome to Horrorwood opens in theaters everywhere on Friday, October 15, 2021 thanks to Fearless Records.

Okay, well, it is definitely available in theaters of the mind. Which is where this entire journey began: in the twisted, Horror-loving brain of Jedi Master Spencer Charnas. A man with a solid plan, often with an intriguing theme, Charnas has been at the helm of Ice Nine Kills for two decades, creating music that is frequently inspired by dark cinema and literature, and sharing his love of all things spine-tingling through movie-themed merchandise designs and blockbuster videos. Despite a multitude of line-up changes, the multi-talented musician has soldiered onward to deliver 2015’s Every Trick In the Book and No. 1 Billboard Hard Rock Album, The Silver Scream.

Some things are the same in Massachusetts as in Hollywood: without the first there can be no sequel. So picking up where he left off, the film buff frontman is now joined by Joe Occhiuti (bass, vocals), Ricky Armellino (guitar, vocals), Dan Sugarman (lead guitar, vocals), and Patrick Galante (drums). And reprising his role as producer, the phenomenal Drew Fulk (Lil Wayne, Bullet For My Valentine) joins the cast to aid in bolstering the enormity of the 13-song The Silver Scream 2: Welcome to Horrorwood.

The overture begins as the curtains separate and reveal “Opening Night,” a just-under one-minute introduction that reiterates the curious mystery surrounding Charnas’ fiancée’s untimely death (poor Nadia!). With thoughts of a serial murderer-slash-musician in our minds, the band takes the stage for the titular opener, “Welcome to Horrorwood.” Here, the vocalist steps into the role of Master of Ceremonies to deliver the only song in the collection that is not based on one specific Horror flick. Instead, it creates an anthem for the fans and genre alike—the misunderstood, music-loving miscreants who are more bad than good. Because “we all go a little mad sometimes,” right?

From here, the album ventures off into a million subplots: experimentation is an obvious driving force, inspiration is drawn from across the spectrum, and, as always, the quintet commits their murder spree all in the name of entertainment. As everything unfolds, listeners meet with Ice Nine Kills’ twisted sense of humor (“Wurst Vacation”), surprising choirs (“A Rash Decision,” “F.L.Y.”), and plenty of ironic juxtapositions. While some of the accompanying films are obvious just by reading song titles (“The Shower Scene,” “F.L.Y.” ), care is taken to make fans listen closely to the lyrics to suss out the corresponding identity to titles such as “Rainy Day,” “Take Your Pick,” and “The Box.”

Musically speaking, Welcome to Horrorwood digs much deeper and delves into heavier terrain than its sibling. While early reactions to the album have gone so far as to mention Deathcore, there is no one genre in which to place the entire package. Much like its predecessor, the LP ventures through a range of categorizations, from the deathly hallows of “Funeral Derangements” toward more radio-friendly territory. So whereas “Freak Flag” and “A Grave Mistake” were two of the most accessible tracks on the first installment, “The Shower Scene” and “Rainy Day” occupy equally infectious territory here. (Please feel free to insert an “A Rash Decision” joke here.)

If it’s molten Metal that gut punches your insides that you want, you have tracks like the aforementioned “A Rash Decision” and the bratty taunts of “Assault & Batteries.” With a feature from Cannibal Corpse’s own Corpsegrinder, “Take Your Pick” is a sonic massacre, while album closer, “Farewell II Flesh,” has moments of brutality that sting. But much like the entirety of the collection, it never adheres to one specific genre, traveling through synth atmospherics and delicate piano to build a tension that culminates in those Metal moments.

In fact, these cross-genre theatrics are a hallmark of Welcome to Horrorwood, which refuses to be caged; it is an album that places hip-shaking Huey Lewis nods (“Hip To Be Scared,” which features Jacoby Shaddix of Papa Roach) alongside slaughtering attacks like “Take Your Pick.” This is balanced with massive melodies that will make a zombie of you on “Rainy Day,” one of the tracks that sits on the lighter side of the spectrum alongside songs like “The Box,” which features Brandon Saller of Atreyu and Ryan Kirby of Fit For A King. The feel of Atreyu’s larger than life melodies permeates its chorus, inviting listeners to chant along, while “F.L.Y.” never echoes Senses Fail but it does feature guest vocals from Buddy Nielsen.

As many have already noted, there’s an irony to having Kirby on “The Box,” and Welcome to Horrorwood is full of these smart dustings of twisted mirth. Take, for example, the sad truth ofa gun is too American in the lyrics of “Wurst Vacation,” a song with a dusting of Rammstein throughout its careful composition. Meanwhile, “Ex-Mørtis” is a twister: beginning with a Classic Rock drive that leads into a devilish toe-tapper with the quirky allure of a smoky saloon. It’s left-field even on an album that stretches its wings, ending with the dramatic experimentation of “Farewell II Flesh.”

Ultimately, Welcome to Horrorwood is exactly as it should be: a cinematic experience that culls together some of the most notable offerings of the genre and exhales inspired material that could have, and should have, been on each film’s soundtrack. From rain-soaked zombies to a shower with death, and beyond, they never stop exploring, juxtaposing seemingly disparate elements and themes to draft their own melodrama. Like a great Horror flick, the LP’s brilliant compositions are jam-packed with moments, and Easter eggs, that will take multiple listens to fully digest.

In short: if you loved The Silver Scream, there’s no reason you won’t find its counterpart to be an instant cult classic, too. It’s a scream, baby! For this, Cryptic Rock gives The Silver Scream 2: Welcome to Horrorwood 5 of 5 stars.


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