Concert Review: Ice Nine Kills @ Rainbow Cellar, Birmingham

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The main downside I’ve found so far when it comes to getting into American bands in the industry means accepting that you might never get a chance to see them live outside of festivals – Ice Nine Kills was exactly this kind of band. Despite loving everything they released for years, its sadly taken an age to get them this side of the pond. However, amazingly, the Hostel Takeover Tour was announced, bringing everyone’s favourite horror themed band to the UK and Europe to unleash hell upon some of our stages! 

After strong opening sets from Shields and Affiance – particularly Affiance, who’s music blew me away on the night – the lights in the tiny Rainbow Cellar dimmed. As the haunting intro to ‘Communion of the Cursed’ began, I saw the band begin to walk through the crowd and around to the stage, and take their places at their respective sections. At once, everything kicked in as Spencer began roaring at the crowd whilst simultaneously bouncing around like a whirlwind on stage. ‘Bloodbath and Beyond’ came up next, giving Spencer another chance to whip a new crowd up into a frenzy, with the stylised song about Dracula sending the crowd insane. The look upon frontman Spencer’s face suggested he had in fact ‘tasted immortality’ as fans drank up his bands energetic first performance in Birmingham. Completing the opening trio of new songs was ‘Nature of the Beast’, before the band launched into ‘The Fastest Way To A Girl’s Heart Is Through Her Ribcage’, a stunning track from their second album. A firm fan favourite, this song was one to convince any last crazy bystanders that this band meant business and knew how to put on a show. ‘Hell in the Hallways’, my favourite track from the new album, and one that I had been bursting to see performed live since release day, absolutely blew the room away. Styled around the book and film ‘Carrie’, it speaks volumes about bullying and the limits it pushes people too, and INK delivered its message with exceptional quality, with Spencer and Justin both really being able to show off their harsh vocal repertoire. 

After a brief chat with the crowd, INK threw themselves into the heaviest song in the set, ‘Connect the Cuts’, with the brutal opening riffs and thudding drums bringing about the first moshpit of the night, with Spencer stepping away from the mic to allow the entire crowd to roar “BURN MOTHERFUCKER BURN”. ‘Alice’ followed, giving the crowd a great chance to sing along to one of the clean vocal-focused songs on the new album, before the opening cry of “We’ll make it out aliiiiiiiiive” brought ‘The Plot Sickens’ to life. Having only been to a few gigs at the Rainbow Cellar, and none as heavy as INK, I really noticed how brilliant the pounding instruments sounded in the tiny crowded room, with the low ceilings amplifying the bass and drums particularly to create a booming cacophony of metalcore. ‘Star-Crossed Enemies’ and ‘Tess-Timony’ came next, two beautifully written songs that gave everyone a second to get their breath back in the middle of a passionate, charged set. The amount of emotion conveyed through Spencer’s vocals in ‘Tess-Timony’ was brilliant, with dimmed lighting centred upon him making the song a highlighted experience to hold onto. ‘The Greatest Story Ever Told’, a bouncy, slightly crazy song that tells a brilliant story about a broken-hearted lover who lost his girlfriend to a murderer who killed her in her sleep. Keeping the energy going for their supposedly final song, ‘Me, Myself and Hyde’ plays as cleverly live as it does in the recorded version, easing between savage and slightly more reserved just as the two characters the song represents. After a small break to allow everyone to gear up for the inevitable finale, the band returned to the stage, to rip through the crowd one more time with ‘The Coffin Is Moving’. The opening growl “We are the walking dead!” sends bodies flying across the room in a whirlwind of a pit, as voices roar in unison with Spencer and Justin. A brutal closing song to finish off a stunning set, for a brilliant inaugural UK run. A tour that has taken too long to finally happen for us desperate fans, but a show that has blown away audiences across the country and shown why Ice Nine Kills are a shining light in a world of generic metalcore, bringing their high energy shows and ingenious lyricism together to create a breath of musical fresh air.  

Written by Laurie Cromwell
Photos by Eva van Kuik

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