Rock and Shock Recap Part 1 – The Kickoff Party
Another Rock and Shock has come and gone and with it a slew of new memories and experiences. I will be documenting all of my personal interactions, stories, and anecdotes throughout the weekend in a series of Rock and Shock Recap articles. Rock and Shock is a 3-day horror convention and concert series that takes place in Worcester, Massachusetts every October.
I would like to start at the beginning- the Rock and Shock Kickoff Party! Several bands played this show including Fathom Farewell, Currents, Awake at Last, Lakeshore, Attraction to Tragedy and the band I was most excited to see, Ice Nine Kills. Ice Nine Kills is a symphonic metal band with deep horror roots, led by frontman Spencer Charnas who pours his love for horror films into his music. The band was there to promote their most recent album, The Silver Scream with thirteen songs based on thirteen classic horror films from Jaws (“Rocking the Boat”) to The Shining (“Enjoy Your Slay”, featuring Sam Kubrick- the grandson of legendary director Stanley Kubrick who directed the film upon which this song is based) and many others. They use very clever wordplay to let you know what the inspiration for a specific track was, along with one or two unmistakable auditory clues in case you had any doubt as each song perfectly encapsulates the spirit of the film upon which it’s based.
The band also dons elaborate costumes when performing on stage, paying homage to iconic horror characters such as Spencer wearing a sleeveless Freddy Krueger sweater, bassist Justin Morrow with his impressive ghoul makeup that he reveals when he removes his Michael Myers mask, and guitarist Justin DeBlieck’s Jason Voorhees ensemble. Of course, each of these slashers has his own song dedicated to him on the new album, and they played all of them, in addition to a few off of their previous album, Every Trick in the Book.
All of those songs are based on classic literature from Carrie (“Hell in the Hallways”) to Romeo and Juliet (“Star-Crossed Enemies”) and, maybe a bit surprisingly, “The People in the Attic” which is based off of The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank, reminding us that horror can be found in real life just as easily as it can in a movie theater or bookstore.
I will say that I was surprised that Every Trick in the Book did not include a song based on Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut (if you are familiar with that work you’ll understand why). But I was very happy that they did play a few songs from that album at the kickoff show, including “The Nature of the Beast” (based on Animal Farm) and “Communion of the Cursed” (based on The Exorcist). I was impressed with the energy the band showed on stage and formed with the crowd a sort of symbiosis in which one fed off of the energy of the other, strengthening both. It was incredible to behold and there have been very few shows where I’ve experienced this happening.
It was a small venue, but it felt as if there were ten times as many people in the crowd as they sang along, crowd surfed and screamed their approval of what they were seeing and hearing. One of the most impressive things, to me anyway, was the way Spencer’s vocals sounded almost exactly as they do on the album proving that he doesn’t need studio magic to enhance his impressive and unique sound. He is able to perfectly match screaming and growling with a haunting vibrato. Like a master craftsman, he uses the various levels of his voice as tools to perfectly match the mood and tone the band conveys through their music in perfect synchronicity with the films or novels to which they’re paying tribute.
The Silver Scream can be purchased by going to the band’s website https://ink.merchnow.com where various bundles of the album, apparel, and other goodies can be found. You can also follow them on Twitter @ICENINEKILLS, on Instagram @Ice9Kills and follow their page on Facebook.com/IceNineKills.
Be on the lookout for more on Rock and Shock soon.
Patrick Rahall covers entertainment for MFST. Follow him on Twitter @patrickrahall