Once upon a time, Ice Nine Kills self-released an album entitled ‘The Pop-Punk Ska Years’. That’s right. Thirteen years on, ‘Every Trick In The Book’ devotes each track to a different piece of classical literature. The first question to ask here must be, why? Is this a preposterous attempt to claim a “classic” of their own? Has the same old horror-laced experimental theatricore became old hat? Does their infatuation with fiction know no end? (Ice-nine is the apocalyptic substance from Kurt Vonnegut’s ‘Cat’s Cradle’). But who cares?
Taken as they are, the songs here for the most part are tight, polished, deliciously over-the-top metalcore gems. Imagined as screams of an anguished Dr Jekyll or the alternate final words of Romeo, this becomes a curiously compelling listen.
An acute awareness of melodic sensibility and metal formalities older than Shakespeare himself abounds throughout, giving tracks such as ‘The Plot Sickens’ and ‘Star-Crossed Enemies’ immediacy entirely independent of the concept. Likewise, ‘Me, Myself & Hyde’ eases between soft and savage much like the infamous characters it portrays. Of course, there’s a generous helping of “Come one, come all!” storytelling shtick but the grandiosity is tasteful, orchestration appropriate and piano balladry done right, especially on the gorgeous ’Tess-Timony’.
Predictably, it’s a lyrical far cry from the source material – it’s hard to imagine George Orwell coming up with “What did you expect? We’re fucking animals.” ‘The People In The Attic’ descends into boring guitar solos and unwittingly amusing Nazi impressions, while ’Alice’ is a chapter to skip.
Regardless, it’s smoothly executed and all-round good fun. Theatricality and rock music go hand in hand, but Ice Nine Kills have achieved a genuine degree of originality with ‘Every Trick In The Book’, and that in itself is a story worth telling.
’Every Trick In The Book’ by Ice Nine Kills is released on October 28th on Fearless Records.
Words by Peter Stewart (@AtavanHalen_)