Boston’s Ice Nine Kills take their name from the fictitious substance in Kurt Vonegut’s Cat’s Cradle, which solidifies any living creature it touches. A potent killer of man and beast, crystallizing all water that it comes into contact with. Ice Nine Kills, the listener would assume from the above, are well read ; which they exhibit to middling effect on latest semi-concept album Every Trick In The Book.
The band’s fourth record kicks off with Nature of the Beast, based around Orwellian classic Animal Farm, it opens with a theatrical introduction worthy of Eurovision, before kicking into keyboard laced metalcore of an equally theatrical nature. It’s inoffensive stuff, but packs enough punch to lock in fans of bands like Asking Alexandria or Motionless in White. Communion of the Damned awakens with eerie samples and a gothic breakdown, before going full speed ahead into chaos with vocalist’s Spencer Charnas and Justin DeBlieck battling for supremacy. The production here is punchy yet unspectacular, wrapping palm-muted guitars around blasting drums. On top of this, a layer of synth which adds a sheen to a record that could really benefit from a rawer studio finish to give it the bite it needs.
Although Every Trick In The Book is not truly a concept album by definition, its main outline is that each song’s lyrics are based on famous literary works, with the two vocalists assuming the characters in the songs. On paper, this is a novel concept (get it?) but in practice has a hit and miss outcome, with ballad Tess-Timony (Tess of the d’Urbervilles) coming across as bland arena-rock fare and Alive-themed bruiser The Plot Sickens, sounding tame in comparison to its truly terrifying subject matter. There are lights in the dark though, the Fall Out Boy-esque chorus of Star-Crossed Enemies breaking up the more generic numbers and the tightrope-walker guitar lead in previously mentioned Communion of the Damned keeping things relatively interesting amidst the showy pomp of the other tracks.
All in all, this is a solid but unremarkable album with an overly-ambitious premise. It combines elements of metalcore that have seemingly been exhausted, if not done bigger and better by other bands. That being said, this is not a bad album by any stretch of the imagination. It has robust structures, poppy as hell choruses and for fans of that kind of thing, a theatrical nature which encapsulates the majority of the album. If romanticized versions of classic literature sung over catchy pop-metal is for you, give Every Trick In The Book a spin.
Every Trick In The Book is out now on Spotify & iTunes. It is available as a physical release October 28th on Fearless Records.