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Live: Ice Nine Kills (and Much More) in Boston

Attraction to Tragedy, Fathom Farewell, Lakeshore, Awake at Last and Currents were also on the bill.

Mackenzie Dineen

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Light rain fell on the queue forming outside the doors of the Worcester Palladium.

Fans in t-shirts, skinny jeans, and leather jackets puttered around outside of the venue. With five scheduled openers before Ice Nine Kills took the stage, I waited less than 30 minutes in the short line. While some fans opted out of the four hours of standing prior to the main act, the long wait did offer metalcore fans an opportunity to discover some new and local talent.

Attraction to Tragedy

Attraction to Tragedy (Image: Mackenzie Dineen)

This Worcester-based, post-hardcore band was the evening’s first act. Four lanky young men covered in tattoos, body paint, and leather took the stage; the assembled crowd was disengaged upon their entry- but not for long.

Swift, crashing guitar lines, from Peter Koromvokis spiraled in and out of complex riffs while new drummer Sterling’s head-spinning drums, and Brandon Burke’s commanding bass drove high-tension songs. Jaiden Shay’s strong vocals covered a wide range of macabre and occult lyrical subjects, although his microphone needed an adjustment, as the band’s volume often drowned out his words.

Attraction to Tragedy’s set brought the audience back to the earliest days of post-hardcore.

Fathom Farewell

Fathom Farewell vocalist Alex Cohen (Image: Mackenzie Dineen)

Fathom Farewell, the Boston-based melodic rock band, followed with an explosion of energy that had the room on its feet from start to finish.

Drummer Kyle Shay and bassist Jared Moore grounded the band, with seamlessly blended tempo changes, while shredding guitarist Brandon Hursey accentuated lead singer, Alex Cohen’s strong high-pitched belt. Fathom Farewell used the small stage to their advantage: they danced, headbanged, and incorporated a myriad of guitar tricks, wherever possible.

The audience was consumed by the music, entrenched in a visceral moment. If a band can feel exhilarated by their own work, then so will everyone else. Fathom Farewell used  their own excitement to ignited the crowd. The band’s most recent single, “Decomposition,” went over especially well.

Lakeshore

Next up was Lakeshore, a Connecticut band founded by ex-Emmure members (and brothers) Ben and Joe Lionetti. Vocalist Steven McCory’s delivery of the band’s new single, “Erased” roused the audience — despite the missing electric elements featured in the recording.

The upcoming album release will surely be a more comfortable setlist for McCory, as it will be tailored to his own voice rather than that of of ex-vocalist, Shawn Adams. Slinky bass riffs from Chris Segovia ushered in intricate guitar parts put forth by Mitch LoBuglio and Ben Lionetti, whose guitar neck encroached dangerously close to my face every other minute.

Nobody was too thrilled when Ben threw an entire bottle of water directly into the front row, but his finger-playing recovery after losing his pick made up for it.  Joe Lionetti, projected an abnormally monstrous presence from his seat at the drum-set, perhaps to distract from Ben’s fumbling.

Awake At Last

Awake at Last! (Image: Mackenzie Dineen)

A melodic hardcore band from Delaware, Awake at Last, felt less like a band playing a club show and more like your friends gigging at a house party. Although I didn’t know the words well enough to sing along, I felt engaged with every member of the band.

Their spiritual imagery and message was a breath of fresh air in an otherwise aggressive atmosphere. Lead singer Victor Torres’s strong upper range was perfect for the band’s theatrical single, “Purgatorium.” His tone, energy, and charismatic presence dominated the set.

Eric Blackway’s guitar lines were measured, and his sinewy riffs combined well with robust rhythm from guitarist Imran Xhelili. Vital rhythm from drummer, Jon Finney, had listeners jumping and dancing regardless of whether or not they were fans. I was unaware that touring bassist, Drew Hanson of Watch Them Burn, was not a member of the band. Hanson, and the rest of the Awake At Last’s synergy was palpable, and he slayed the entire set.

The main takeaway from their set was their positivity that permeated the room. The band’s infectious smiles, kind words, and uplifting attitude set the tone for the remainder of the evening.

Currents

The final opener, Currents, a Connecticut metalcore/djent group turned up the heat with vocals that fell eloquently from the lips of lead singer, Brian Wille. His performance of “Apnea,” a song that addresses sexual assault and rape head-on, was moved the audience.

However, his finest moment was when he used the mic stand to carry a crowd-surfing fan to safety, who had been injured after landing on stage. Metal may have a violent, aggressive exterior, but it is supported by a community of many compassionate and supportive people. It was refreshing to see Wille exhibit such selflessness.

Some in the crowd however, were not as kind.

It was difficult to pay attention to the set with audience members hurtling over my head. Larger venues provide more room for travel ad are therefore are more appropriate for stagediving. The Palladium’s upstairs room only allotted a small area, and it was frustrating to stand in the front and bear the weight of divers flying onto you every thirty seconds rather than enjoying the music I paid and travelled to hear.

Nonetheless, the turmoil inspired the music, and Currents tore up the venue, amplifying the room’s energy tenfold.

Guitarists Chris Wiseman and Ryan Castaldi captivated the audience with bewitching solos, and sharp rhythm playing. The duo filled much of the space behind Wille’s voice, while bassist Dee Cronkite — a mountainous man with bass abilities of equal just as monstrous — and drummer Jeff Brown anchored the group’s frenzy of sound.

“Apnea,” “Night Terrors,” and the title track of their latest album, “The Place I Feel Safest,” were highlights.

Ice Nine Kills

Ice Nine Kills lead vocalist Spencer Charnas. (Image: Mackenzie Dineen)

The headliners finally hit the stage and the once the Salem, Mass. symphonic-metalcore band set foot on the foggy stage. The room was clouded to the point of near-invisibility, artificial smoke triggering Halloween memories of years past.

Bassist Justin Morrow crept through the smoke with a crow-painted face. Lead guitarist J.D. DeBlieck lumbered in, clad in a janitorial jumpsuit and signature Friday the 13th style ski mask. Drummer Patrick Galante crawled to the drum set in a blood-spattered Crystal Lake Camp t-shirt. Touring guitarist Ricki Armellino — also vocalist with This Or The Apocalypse and Mouth Data — appeared in a yellow raincoat, a red balloon tied to his mic-stand.

Lead vocalist Spencer Charnas arrived in a cut-off Freddy Krueger sweater and launched into the opener, “The American Nightmare.”

From seeing Ice Nine Kills live in the past, I’ve learned that even the entire audience focuses their concentration on the theatrical explosion occurring on stage. Every voice seemed to join Charnas’ lead, making him nearly inaudible above the tumult. The crowd lurched forward with every chorus, swarming towards the musicians, arms outstretched. At times, I was certain my femurs would crack against the edge of stage from the sheer pressure of bodies behind me.

“Thank God It’s Friday,” was a set highlight,  DeBlieck’s terrific shredding and Morrow’s punchy bass carrying Charnas’ voice, perfectly mirroring the recording. The bridge of “Ki Ki Ki Ma Ma Ma,” made for an interactive scream session. At the song’s close, the band left the stage, except for Galante, who crawled from his position on drums to center stage, where he spit fake blood and collapsed. That is, until Morrow returned and prodded him with the neck of his bass guitar, shoving Galante back to his seat.

“Stabbing In The Dark” brought another high point, as Charnas wove through the front row, pointing, wagging fingers, and clasping hands with fans as he purred out the torturous ballad, each phrase juxtaposing the next: either soft and nightmarish, or ferociously powerful.

The atmosphere during “A Grave Mistake” was painful, yet passionate. DeBlieck’s guitar solo lured superfans even closer to the stage. Morrow’s performance was stirring, and he flaunted his Crow makeup, grimacing and leering at the crowd.

Ice Nine Kills’ vivacious performance of the rager “It Is The End,” offered the band some room to stretch out. Charnas taunted guitarist, Armellino, who was dressed as Georgie, holding “Georgie’s” paper boat just out of reach. The performance gave the crowd a much-needed laugh, before diving into one of the heaviest songs of the evening. Complete with a clown-horn, and truly shocking guitar work from both DeBlieck and Armellino.

The newest member, Galante held a cacophonous rhythm, his beat was spontaneous yet steady among the mayhem. Charnas nailed theatrical runs and vicious unclean vocals, and impressed the crowd with his uncanny ability to twist his own voice into that of any and every horror character.

The final Silver Scream track that made the setlist was “Savages.” Although it fit the mood, the song falls flat compared to the album’s more dynamic work like “The Jig Is Up,” or “Merry Axe-Mas.”

The band also performed renditions of “Me, Myself, and Hyde,” “Bloodbath & Beyond,” and an encore of “Communion Of The Cursed,” from their previous album Every Trick In the Book.

Although fans greatly enjoyed the throwbacks, the show warranted more (if not all) material from Silver Scream.

If you obsess over singers and bands, and are one of those people who make a playlist for every occasion, join CMN’s Music Journalism Course and get real-time experience, intense feedback on your writing, exposure to music industry insiders, and a great place to display build your portfolio. Get all the details on the Music Journalism Course here.

Mackenzie Dineen is a Boston-based student writer in her senior year, working towards a degree in Entertainment Media at Lasell College. She is a firm believer that live music is life's greatest pleasure, and prefers anything heavy. She is a proud cat mother of a 2 year old black Mainecoone with thumbs, named Scarlett. If she had it her way, every day would be Halloween.

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