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Music / Ice Nine Kills

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Ice Nine Kills (formerly known as Ice Nine, often stylized as ICE NINE KILLS and abbreviated to INK) are a "theatri-core" band from Boston, Massachusetts, known for their horror-inspired lyrics and aesthetic.

Initially a ska-punk band formed in 2000 by two high school friends, INK later turned to a heavier sound and is now considered part of the Metalcore scene. The band's lineup rotated heavily over the years, and frontman Spencer Charnas is currently the only founding member remaining.

Their band name comes from the fictional weapon of mass destruction in Kurt Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle.


  • Last Chance to Make Amends (2006)
  • Safe Is Just a Shadow (2010)
  • The Predator Becomes the Prey (2014)
  • Every Trick in the Book (2015)
  • The Silver Scream (2018)
  • The Silver Scream 2: Welcome to Horrorwood (2021)

Tropes To Be Scared:

  • Adaptational Alternate Ending: The video for "Communion of the Cursed" has Regan strangle Father Karras to death, with her still heavily implied to be possessed by Pazuzu in the end. On the brighter side, Father Merrin is still alive.
  • Affectionate Parody: "Jason's Mom", a horror-themed version of "Stacy's Mom".
  • Album Title Drop:
    • "The predator becomes the prey" is dropped in "What Lies Beneath".
    • The titles of the band's first four albums (either word-for-word or slightly modified) are all dropped in the same song, "Rocking The Boat" off The Silver Scream (i.e. the fifth album, which doesn't get its own title drop).
    • The Silver Scream gets its own title drop on "The American Nightmare".
  • Alliterative Title: The Silver Scream, "Freak Flag", "Tess-Timony", "Bloodbath & Beyond", "Communion of the Cursed", "Hell in the Hallways", etc.
  • American Title: "The American Nightmare".
  • …And That Little Girl Was Me: The video for "Hell in the Hallways" reveals at the end that Carrie White is now the school's guidance counselor, and that she told the bully the story of how she killed everyone at prom in order to scare him straight.
  • Animal Motifs: "The Nature of the Beast", which is based on Animal Farm, and "A Grave Mistake" (based on The Crow).
  • Anti-Christmas Song: "Merry Axe-Mas".
  • Ax-Crazy: Unstable characters appear in every other song, but the ones that additionally have to do with axes are "Merry Axe-Mas" and "Enjoy Your Slay".
  • Back from the Dead: The narrators of "The American Nightmare" and "A Grave Mistake".
  • Badass Boast: Frequent, since a lot of their songs have the villain as the POV character. The most overt example is probably in "Bloodbath & Beyond":
    Hunted by all mankind, but they're one step behind
    "Prince of Darkness"? Fuck that, I'm the king!
  • Bad Santa: "Merry Axe-Mas".
  • Based on a True Story: "The Plot Sickens" is about the Andes flight disaster and "The People in the Attic" is about Anne Frank.
  • Book Ends: The cycle of music videos for The Silver Scream starts with the Villain Protagonist visiting a therapist, and end with him starting therapy again, this time with a different professional.
  • The Cameo:
    • The Silver Scream is chock full of them, notably from ska-punk legends Less Than Jake, horror actress Chelsea Talmadge, and founding INK member Jeremy Schwartz.
    • The video for "Assault & Batteries" ends with an epilogue set in a police station, featuring Bill Moseley along with James A. Janisse and Chelsea Rebecca of Dead Meat playing police officers investigating a series of murders in which Spencer is the prime suspect. They return in the videos for "Rainy Day", which also features Ricky Dean Logan as Spencer's lawyer and Ashley Costello of New Year's Day playing a zombie, and "Funeral Derangements", where Moseley tells Janisse that "your jokes are really horrible".
    • A Remake Cameo came in the video for "Funeral Derangements", where Miko Hughes, who played Gage Creed in Pet Sematary (1989), plays the truck driver who runs over Gage.
    • "The Shower Scene" continues this with Joe Bob Briggs as the judge and Scout Taylor Compton from Rob Zombie's Halloween as the DA
    • "Welcome To Horrorwood" features Andrew Brynairski as a chainsaw wielding INK fan.
  • Chronically Killed Actor: Many of their music videos star Spencer's girlfriend Nadia Teichmann, often playing somebody who gets killed.
    • This actually becomes a plot point in their music videos for Welcome to Horrorwood, where Spencer is charged with her murder, and the cops are trying to figure out exactly which video actually depicts the crime. Needless to say they get fed up real fast…
  • Circus of Fear: The "carnival of carnage" in "IT is the End".
  • Concept Album: All the songs in Every Trick in the Book are based on works of literature, whereas The Silver Scream and Welcome to Horrorwood are themed around horror films.
  • Concept Video: The music videos for the singles of The Silver Scream share a cohesive narrative of a supposed serial killer going to therapy for his nightmares.
    • The trend is continues in the music videos for Welcome to Horrorwood, which shows an overarching plot of Spencer being charged with the murder of his girlfriend Nadia, and the cops are trying to find concrete proof in the music videos themselves.
  • Continuity Nod: "Rocking the Boat" name-drops all of the band's previous albums in the lyrics, and was also co-written by (and features vocals by) founding band member Jeremy Schwartz.
  • Cosplay: After the release of The Silent Scream, the band would dress as horror movie characters in concerts (see page image).
  • Cover Version: INK regularly cover pop songs, with notable examples being "Thriller", "Can't Help Falling in Love" and "Jason's Mom" (a parody of "Stacy's Mom").
  • Darker and Edgier: They started out as a ska-punk band, then shifted into pop-punk, and then into metalcore.
  • Death Seeker: The male narrator of "Love Bites" (which is based on An American Werewolf in London).
  • Determinator: The protagonists of "The Plot Sickens", in line with their real-life inspirations.
    If we have to crawl out, in spite of this hell
    We'll find a way out, we'll find a way out.
  • Double Meaning: Too frequent to list, but some examples are:
    • "A Grave Mistake": "grave" as in both "serious" and "a tomb".
    • "Your Number's Up": both as in "your turn's up" and "your (phone) number's up".
    • From the same song: "you'll be dying to hang on the line" — "eager to" and "literally dying".
    • "The climax of debauchery" in "Thank God It's Friday": "climax" as in "culmination" and "orgasm".
    • "She raised him right", from the same song: "raise" as in "take care of a child" and "bring back from the dead".
    • "Living the dream" from "The American Nightmare": both "living in the dreamworld" and "living the ideal life".
    • "Craven my revenge" from the same song: as a form of the verb "crave" and as a reference to Wes Craven.
  • Driven to Suicide: "Star-Crossed Enemies".
  • Early-Installment Weirdness:
    • Their 2000s songs were much closer to Alternative Rock, Pop Punk, and Ska Punk. They refer to it as "The Pop-Punk-Ska Years", and the only material of theirs from that era that can be found on Spotify is their 2007 EP The Burning. It was in 2009, when Spencer rebuilt the band after all of the other members had left, that they shifted to the metalcore sound they'd become famous for, though traces of the genre can be found in their later music (i.e. the brass section in "IT is the End").
    • While the band always had very dark lyrics, these were never unusual for metalcore. It wasn't until Every Trick in the Book and especially The Silver Scream that they fully adopted their horror movie theme. Lampshaded on "Hip to Be Scared" when Spencer homages Patrick Bateman's monologue about Huey Lewis and the News.
      Do you like Ice Nine Kills? Their early work was a little bit too scene for me, but when The Silver Scream came out, I think they really came into their own, commercially and artistically.
  • Evil Laugh: "Bloodbath & Beyond".
  • Eye Open: At the end of the music video for "The Fastest Way To a Girl's Heart is Through Her Ribcage".
  • Fading into the Next Song: "Star-Crossed Enemies" fades into "Me, Myself & Hyde" via some rain sounds.
  • Fountain of Youth: Mentioned in "IT is the End".
  • Full-Circle Revolution: "The Nature of the Beast":
    Time goes on and history repeats.
  • Genre Mashup: While metalcore is a genre mashup in itself, INK's work also includes elements of showtunes, orchestral music and ska-punk.
  • Gratuitous Spanish: "Merry Axe-Mas" ends with a shout of "¡Feliz Navi-dead!"
  • Green-Eyed Monster: "The Greatest Story Ever Told".
  • Halloween Songs: INK have made a career our of horror-themed music and even have a song dedicated to Halloween specifically ("Stabbing in the Dark").
  • He Who Fights Monsters: "The Nature of the Beast".
    Where is the end? What have we done?
    We're what we swore we'd not become.
  • High-School Dance: The video for "The Fastest Way To a Girl's Heart is Through Her Ribcage", and the video (and lyrics) of "Hell in the Hallways".
  • Hollywood Acid: The music video for "The Shower Scene" features Officer Ophelia (played by Chelsea Rebecca of Dead Meat), one of the cops on the case for Nadia's murder, meeting a rather gruesome end herself when a masked killer pours acid into her house's water system while she's taking a shower.
  • I Am the Band: Spencer Charnas is only the original member.
  • Iconic Outfit: Throughout The Silver Scream promotion and tour, Charnas wore either a sleeveless Freddy Krueger sweater or a half-Jason half-Freddy shirt.
  • Identical Stranger: Frontman Spencer Charnas bears a more than passing resemblance to a young Till Lindemann.
  • If I Can't Have You…: The most common interpretation of "The Greatest Story Ever Told".
  • I'm a Humanitarian: An explicitly stated and villainous version in "Savages", a subtly implied and sympathetic one in "The Plot Sickens" ("it's hard to swallow the unthinkable...")
  • Informed Judaism: Lampshaded in the "Part 2" epilogue for the "Rainy Day" video. Spencer's lawyer tells the detective, who's grilling Spencer about a series of murders, that the only confession he'll be giving is to his priest, which he does every Sunday. Outside the interrogation room, officer Chelsea asks "aren't they a Jewish metal band?"
  • Jekyll & Hyde: "Me, Myself & Hyde", natch.
  • Last Note Nightmare:
    • The stabbing sounds and dying screams and gurgles at the end of "Your Number's Up".
    • "Thank God It's Friday" ends with a calm solo, which abruptly transitions to some harsh guitar riffs along with the hook, to symbolize the first film's Jump Scare ending.
  • Love Triangle: "The Greatest Story Ever Told" is Type 4.
  • Lyrical Dissonance: Their earlier work often coupled poppy melodies with dark, disturbing lyrics ("The Greatest Story Ever Told"). Acoustic versions of their horror-themed songs also count.
  • The Murder After: "The Greatest Story Ever Told" starts with the narrator waking up to the corpse of the woman he loved and claiming to not know what happened.
  • Murder Ballad: "The Greatest Story Ever Told", "The Fastest Way to a Girl's Heart is Through Her Ribcage", "Stabbing in the Dark", "Your Number's Up"...
  • Mythology Gag: "Enjoy Your Slay", based on The Shining, features screams by Sam Kubrick, whose grandfather directed the most famous adaptation of the book.
  • Non-Appearing Title: Everywhere in Every Trick in the Book (with only one exception in "Star-Crossed Enemies").
  • Not His Sled: The music video for "The Shower Scene" takes a huge swerve on the titular scenario, having the Norman stand-in pull the curtain only to see that the Marion archetype isn't there. Cue Marion right behind him, with her being the one to stab Norman to death and hide the body.
  • Obsession Song: "Bloodbath & Beyond" ("It's been six years since I've had my fix, and now I'm fixed on you").
  • One of Us: The band are big horror nerds, and Charnas has been featured on Dead Meat and has done a "Top 10 Horrors" list for Hot Topic.
  • One-Man Song: "Me, Myself & Hyde", what with all of the title characters being the same man.
  • One-Woman Song: "Alice" (based on Go Ask Alice).
  • One-Word Title: "Alice" and "Savages" off The Silver Scream.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: "Bloodbath & Beyond" is pretty clearly about Dracula, but the music video "The Fastest Way To a Girl's Heart is Through Her Ribcage" features a vampire who kills people in a shower of blood and can apparently be killed via hanging. Or not.
  • Power Ballad: See Surprisingly Gentle Song below.
  • "Psycho" Shower Murder Parody: The Music Video for "The Shower Scene" as expected features this scene, though completely flipped on its head. When the Norman Bates character, played by lead singer Spencer Charnas, pulls back the shower curtains to kill the lead heroine, there's instead a dress on a clothes hanger in her place, as she emerges from behind and murders him with her own butcher knife.
  • "Psycho" Strings: Used in the bridge of (where else?) "The Shower Scene", to fully mark it's status as a song based on the Trope Namer.
  • Pun: Their songs are heavy on wordplay, with lyrics like "your neck is up next" and "don't hesitate to axe".
  • Pun-Based Title: "A Reptile's Dysfunction", "Enjoy Your Slay", "The Plot Sickens", "Tess-Timony", "Merry Axe-Mas", "Bloodbath & Beyond", etc.
  • Rain of Blood: What the Gory Discretion Shots in the music video for "The Fastest Way To a Girl's Heart is Through Her Ribcage" look like, courtesy of messy vampire kills.
  • Rape and Revenge: "Tess-Timomy", which is based on Tess of the D'Urbervilles and is a fairly subdued and non-exploitative example of the genre.
  • Rearrange the Song: Several tracks from The Silver Scream have acoustic versions with slightly modified lyrics.
  • Revolving Door Band: Frontman Spencer Charnas is the only original member remaining, and the current lineup (as of 2021) was only established in 2019.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: "A Grave Mistake".
  • Shout-Out: Deserves its own page.
  • Spoken Word in Music: The Silver Scream in particular features many spoken-word passages related to the movies that inspired the songs.
  • Switching P.O.V.: The narration in "Tess-Timony" switches between Angel's and Tess's points of view.
  • Surprisingly Gentle Song: Their later, heavier albums feature at least one scream-free ballad ("Tess-Timony" and "Star-Crossed Enemies" on Every Trick in the Book, "Love Bites" on The Silver Scream).
  • Take That!:
    • Ice Nine Kills were banned from playing at the Disney-owned House of Blues in Florida due to their "violent imagery." The band responded by designing a horror Disney-inspired merchandise line and having Mickey Mouse play the role of "Georgie" during live performances of "IT is the End".
    • The video "Death by TikTok" that they made to promote a livestream, in which a young woman is recording a dance for TikTok only for a masked killer to jump out of her shower and hack her to death.
  • These Hands Have Killed: From "The Fastest Way To a Girl's Heart is Through Her Ribcage":
    These bloodstained hands
    Have tied the noose.
  • Trrrilling Rrrs: Done on "Wurst Vacation" in an homage to Til Lindemann, what with the song being based on a film set in Central Europe.
  • Unplugged Version: The band did an unplugged set of five songs at the Stanley hotel in Colorado (aka "The Shining hotel").
  • Unreliable Narrator: All over the place, since their songs often have Villain Protagonists. A good example is "The Greatest Story Ever Told", whose most common interpretation is that the narrator is in denial about killing the woman he loves and instead blames her lover for the crime.
    I'm not a violent man but people can change
    So while you're sleeping
    I'll slit your throat and drain your blood
    And mail it to your mother
  • Villain Song: Most of the songs on The Silver Scream, exceptions being "Thank God It's Friday", "Rocking the Boat", "The World in My Hands", "A Grave Mistake" and "Love Bites".
  • Vocal Tag Team: Charnas typically does all clean vocals on their records, whereas scream duties are shared between him and at least one other band member, e.g. Justin DeBlieck on Every Trick in the Book and The Silver Scream.
  • Whole-Plot Reference: Common with their music videos: "People Under the Stairs" is Inglorious Basterds, "Hell in the Hallways" is Carrie, and "The Nature of the Beast" (both song and video) is Animal Farm.
  • Wicked Cultured: "Hip to Be Scared" is about a serial killer in "Valentino couture" whose exceptional personal grooming and highbrow tastes go hand-in-hand with his bloodlust. The killer in question? Patrick Bateman.
  • Your Head A-Splode: The video for "Welcome to Horrorwood" features a cop named Officer Dunbar (played by James A. Janisse of Dead Meat) getting tortured by a killer, but after providing the killer with information, he seems to walk away. Just as Dunbar says "I thought I was dead meat", the killer pushes a button on a remote, causing a device around his neck to explode, splitting his head in half.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: "Rainy Day", which is loosely based on the Resident Evil series of Survival Horror video games. The lyrics even include the line "evil has taken up residence", featuring a corporate logo with an umbrella (after the Greater-Scope Villain Umbrella Corporation from the video games), just to make the reference perfectly clear. In any case, a few corporate executives release a zombie on an unsuspecting woman in a hospital, requiring her to arm herself with an assault rifle to escape.


Video Example(s):


Funeral Derangements

Ice Nine Kills have risen in popularity with their songs based on pop culture such as literature and horror films. This particular one is based on Stephen King's Pet Sematary.

How well does it match the trope?

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