For the second time in the last three years, I spent November 30th at an Ice Nine Kills show.

Now, I’m not one to look for bigger meanings where there are none, but that’s… something, right?
In 2019, driving over to Worcester for the recording of their I Heard They KILL Live! album was my last travel show before the shutdown.
This August, I was back at the Palladium for The Ghost Inside’s comeback show, which after nearly two years, was my first shoot after shows returned. Currents were the opening band that night, as they were at INKcarceration Festival the following month in Ohio, which was the first festival I went to following the restart, which also featured Ice Nine Kills, Bad Omens, and Fame on Fire.

So, okay fine, maybe I am one to look for something when it isn’t there, but you have to admit, that’s a decent amount of dots that I’m able to connect there. Setting that aside, I was eager to see what was about to happen here.

I had seen Ice Nine Kills at a few Warped Tours, play a festival set once or twice, and an extended hometown set. Up to this point, I had never seen a “regular” headlining set from them. Then again, if we’re talking about bands that don’t include “regular” in their vocabulary, Ice Nine Kills would make the cut.

The three openers had their time, and each brought something different to the table. Fame on Fire started with a quick setlist, proving themselves as more than a cover band. Their version of Linkin Park’s “Numb” was definitely a standout.
Currents came out swinging and pulled no punches. With Bad Omens up next and Ice Nine Kills’ antics later, Currents were as to-the-point as you could be. No breaks, no pauses, just full throttle for thirty minutes.
For the last warm-up, Bad Omens leaned more towards theatrical – with a dark, ambient backlit stage and a reserved, but building energy that built its way throughout their set.

As intermission neared its end, the Halloween score played on a loop as the anticipation grew. While there isn’t much room for improvement in Ice Nine Kills’ live show, (though I suppose some may have a personal preference on what should or shouldn’t make the cut on the set list), I think there was a missed opportunity here. On the deluxe edition of Welcome to Horrorwood, there are orchestral versions of “Assault & Batteries” and “Ex-Mortis.” I felt they would have been perfect for either the pre-show intermission or the walk to the exits after.

That is where my list of grievances ends.

The show began with the Horrorwood opening credits, rolling in a Star Wars-style prelude detailing the case notes of the brutal murder mystery involving Spencer, his fiancee, and his Ice Nine Kills bandmates. Following immediately was “Welcome to Horrorwood,” which was the obvious choice to begin the night and got the blood pumping.


Ice Nine Kills always do a great job at mixing fresh cuts in with the old fan favorites, and this tour was no exception. Early on, they alternated between Silver Scream Parts One and Two, following “Welcome to Horrorwood” with “SAVAGES,” “A Rash Decision,” “Stabbing in the Dark,” and “Hip to Be Scared.”

Not counting “Wurst Vacation,” and with the aforementioned American Psycho-inspired lead single being the exception, any track from Horrorwood that didn’t contain a feature was included in the setlist. Though, hopefully, there are adjustments made next time around. I’m sitting on pins and needles, hoping for “The Box” to find its way into the rotation sometime soon.

That said, as long as “Communion of the Cursed” continues to have a spot in the show, the rest of the night is just a bonus. Not only is it arguably the best song in their catalog, but it’s also the sharpest overall performance in the set. In my opinion, it’s backward head and shoulders above what anyone else is putting into their live show.

Had “IT Is the End” not already long-established itself as the go-to finale, I would have expected “Farewell II Flesh” to close out the night. But dropping it in before “The Shower Scene” and “Rainy Day” was a great placement and made for a nice trio of new tracks. Included with the bittersweet grit of the former, offsetting the clean choruses of the middle act before sprinting to the finish line with the third.

While I wouldn’t consider anything they do small on any scale, Ice Nine Kills manage the perfect overlap between tight-knit, personal shows and extravagant stage spectacle. Their performance itself continues to get better with each show and tour, and the costume changes and props and choreography only add to the campiness, which is said here in the best way possible. It’s all over-the-top but never overdone and in-your-face but doesn’t steal focus.

Even with a prop trunk full of knives and axes and shovels and masks, the strongest weapon in Ice Nine Kills’ arsenal is their commitment to it all. Every pun is always fully intended, and there’s never a lack of space to squeeze one more reference in. Welcome to Horrorwood takes the blueprint of a concept album and doubles down, slicing the horror-inspired tracks into an overarching slasher/thriller series of music videos that don’t shy away from their source material’s brutality. In true slasher fashion, they make sure the next chapter can always be bolder, bloodier, badder, bigger.

Reaching the end of this tour, they’ve announced their next run of shows with Black Veil Brides and Motionless in White for March and April. I’m going to jump at the chance to get back down to Huntington again for that one. If this little streak is any indicator of next fall’s plans, I think I’ll pencil them in for November 2022 now – just to be safe.
Up to this point, I’ve seen Ice Nine Kills half a dozen times over the last few years, and they continue to get better with each one. Whenever I do end up catching them again, it’s sure to be a scream.

Opening Night …
Welcome to Horrorwood
A Rash Decision
Stabbing in the Dark
Hip to be Scared
Funeral Derangements
Communion of the Cursed
Assault & Batteries
Farewell II Flesh
The Shower Scene
Rainy Day
A Grave Mistake
Thank God It’s Friday
The American Nightmare
IT Is the End