Updated: Oct 27, 2021
After the massive success of their first horror-inspired album The Silver Scream, it made sense to come back with more horror in their latest release Welcome to Horrorwood: The Silver Scream 2. I know, I know, oftentimes sequels suck or are held under more scrutiny for coming after a great original. The singer of the band Spencer Charnas even acknowledges this, admitting that with the success of The Silver Scream, there was pressure to one-up the predecessor, but it seems that Ice Nine Kills were ready to take on the challenge. And in my opinion, they nailed it.
When making the decision to come back with a follow-up album, Charnas thought of it as “creat[ing] a franchise out of a band.” So much like the many franchises they reference in their songs, they themselves are now becoming a franchise of their own. Ice Nine Kills have always had an affinity for horror, tackling some darker tales through their 2015 album Every Trick in the Book but they embraced it fully with their 2018 release The Silver Scream. The album hit #29 in the Billboard 200, a huge leap from the #122 placement of their prior album. Realizing they struck gold while also still holding an interest in tackling more horror movies, they started penning Welcome to Horrorwood.
Charnas in character for their Assault and Batteries music video. Source
The metalcore and horror fans overlap was large enough for the idea of horror metalcore to gain popularity and hype within the scene. When it came to creating their sequel. Charnas said in a Rock Sound interview that he wanted to keep fans guessing, to build hype. He wanted fans to wonder, “they’ve done Friday the 13th, they’ve done Michael Myers. What are they gonna do next?” It’s that excitement that drove the band to choose more movies for fans to “sink their teeth into” by creating a sequel album that not only maintains the concept but builds upon, blending different genres together leaving you wondering what they’re going to try in the next track. From emo-pop to metalcore to deathcore, this album has a bit of everything. On top of that, it has amazing features including...
Jacoby Shaddix from Papa Roach (see below)
Spencer Charnas and Jacoby Shaddix on the set of the music video “Hip to Be Scared.” Source
George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher from Cannibal Corpse
Brandon Saller from Atreyu
Ryan Kirby from Fit For A King
Buddy Nielsen from Senses Fail
As Charnas says in their song “Hip to Be Scared", I think what makes this album, “a cut above the rest” is that it takes what made The Silver Scream good and elevates it, builds upon it. Experimentation and creativity are running on full blast for Welcome to Horrorwood from the song compositions to the lyrics to the album’s storyline. And to top it all off, the band has put together a personalized list of horror movies for huge fans to geek out over while casual horror fans can discover new films.
Like for our blog on the Silver Scream, I’m going to list out the tracklist and which horror franchises they’re based on.
Opening Night... -introductory voiceover
Welcome to Horrorwood - an original song/setup for the album’s story
A Rash Decision - Cabin Fever
Assault & Batteries - Chucky franchise
The Shower Scene - Psycho
Funeral Derangements - Pet Sematary
Rainy Day - Resident Evil
Hip to Be Scared - American Psycho
Take Your Pick – My Bloody Valentine
The Box - Hellraiser
F.L.Y - The Fly
Würst Vacation - Hostel
Ex-Mørtis - The Evil Dead franchise
Farewell II Flesh - Candyman
Aside from choosing movies the band personally loves that they hadn’t tackled yet, they also kept their ear to the ground, listening to the movies that fans wanted them to build songs around. I was personally thrilled to see them write a song based on Hellraiser.
The Silver Scream did an incredible job adding subtle references to their lyrics, and Welcome to Horrorwood does it just as eloquently. The album holds all sorts of references and little Easter eggs for horror fans. It’s those little details that keep me in awe of this band. Some of my favorite little moments include...
Recreating the Huey Lewis and the News scene from American Psycho and changing it to Spencer asking about his band and giving a “review” of sorts in their song “Hip to Be Scared.” Incredible.
Bees buzzing at the beginning and end of “Farewell II Flesh”, a song inspired by Candyman.
Yelling “hidey ho” in “Assault and Batteries”, a song inspired by the Chucky series.
Sampling the music from the puzzle box in Hellraiser in their song “The Box.”
Adding whistling from the torturer in the movie Hostel for their track, “Wurst Vacation.”
When it comes to the album’s story, Ice Nine Kills were able to take the idea of their vocalist Spencer Charnas being suspected of murder like the last album touched on and make it more intense this time around. They concocted the story that the last album was a work of fiction, compared to this album which is set in the “real” world where a murder was committed (Charnas’ fiancee), and he is the prime suspect. The police found video tapes that Fearless Records (their real record label) won’t release because they’re too violent. Now, the police are trying to use the videotapes, songs, and lyrics to prove that the killer must be Spencer Charnas.
So far, four music videos have been released, each building onto the story of the police trying to find proof to convict Charnas. Charnas has plotted out what he wants for the rest of the videos like it was done for The Silver Scream. Although based on recent interviews, it seems fans will get to see more than 5 music videos like the prior album had. It seems they have much deeper of a story to tell.
The band decided they wanted to work beyond the movie concepts and add more creativity/story this time. The storyline paired with the third video “Rainy Day” is where I found the story the most interesting. You can watch it here. Charnas is in the interrogation room with his lawyer and the police captain. The lawyer is looking for a scapegoat, other potential suspects that could get his client to walk free. Some of my favorites include a disgruntled ex-band member because “he’s had to fire quite a few” or one of his deranged fans including the detail, “they call themselves Psychos, you know.” These are factual details of the real Charnas and the band.
Having it set in an offshoot of reality has made the setup of this story even more intriguing. It’s also raising a similar question that the last album did. Just because a person writes songs/has an affinity for horror and has a dedicated fanbase, does that mean the person behind it could become an actual killer? Can art stay art and not traipse into reality?
Since the band’s popularity skyrocketed from The Silver Scream, Ice Nine Kills were also able to establish connections this go around that they may not have had last time they tackled writing songs about horror franchises. One major benefit they had this time around was celebrity cameos. My personal favorite is knowing that the actor who played Gage in the original Pet Sematary made a cameo in the music video for the song inspired by the movie, “Funeral Derangements.” Now grown up, he plays the truck driver who [spoiler if you haven’t seen the movie] hits the actor portraying Gage in the Ice Nine Kills music video. A strange, ironic, full circle detail that any horror fan can appreciate.
Promotional photo of Ice Nine Kills for their music video “Funeral Derangements.” Source
Some other cameos include:
Bill Mosely (Texas Chainsaw 2 and many Rob Zombie films) playing the police captain.
Ash Costello of the band New Years Day as a zombie in “Rainy Day.”
Ricky Dean Logan (known for Freddy’s Dead) posing as Charnas’ lawyer.
James Janisse and Chelsea Rebecca (creators of the Dead Meat James “Kill Count” YouTube series) play detectives working on the case.
I could go on and on about this album, because as a horror and metalcore fan, this is the perfect blend of everything I love. And of course, releasing it in the middle of October was an intentional and brilliant move, because now it will be on a constant loop leading up to Halloween. Even if you aren’t a fan of horror, I assure you there’s at least one thing that would interest you about this album. The same goes for if the term “metalcore” throws you off. Welcome to Horrorwood: The Silver Scream 2 tackles a litany of genres. I think a good “safe” start would be “Rainy Day” or “F.L.Y.”
Welcome to Horrorwood: The Silver Scream 2 takes a formula they’ve crafted and still find a way to put a creative spin and update to it. If you’ve given the album a listen, what do you think? Does it measure up to The Silver Scream? Do you think it’s a sequel worth tuning in for?
A special thanks to my sources who helped me in writing this review:
Written by Kristen Petronio