Ice Nine Kills at Saint Andrews Hall in Detroit, MI

Ice Nine Kills slays it on the Octane Accelerator Tour with support from Fit for a King, Light the Torch, and Awake At Last.

Tonight’s show is shaping up to be a great one with it being sold-out and the main floor packed to the soundboard shortly after the doors open. The fans are here early to make sure they catch all the action from the four bands on the Octane Accelerator Tour. Awake At Last is up first and they get the crowd warmed up with a brief, but solid set that is almost entirely comprised of songs from their 2019 album The Change including “More Than Animals,” “Paralyzed,” “Dead Generation,” and the title track. 

Next up is Light the Torch led be vocalist Howard Jones. They waste no time cranking it up a level with a fast-paced and intense set that is kicked off with “The Bitter End” from their 2018 release Revival. Howard is a veteran of the rock scene having fronted Killswitch Engage for nine years and is an imposing figure that delivers both lucid vocals as well as harsh vocals and screams. They have the sound dialed in tonight and when the guitar kicks in by Francesco Artusato, the crowd erupts on the blazing “Calm Before the Storm.” Kyle Baltus is laying down a wicked beat on the drums and is accompanied by Ryan Wombacher providing the pulsing bass that you can feel up front. Their set is mostly from their latest release except for one song, “The Way We Die” from the 2015 album They Bleed Red. “The Safety of Disbelief” has fans joining in while many wave their arms overhead. They close it out with “The God I Deserve” and “Die Alone.”

Fit for a King from Dallas, TX keep the energy high in the room as the venue is now packed on both levels with some fans spilling into the lobby. They get the crowd moving with a block of songs from their 2018 album Dark Skies including “Engraved”, “Backbreaker”, and “Shattered Glass.” Singer Ryan Kirby works the stage from side to side and is loving the fan’s reactions as he smiles and leads them on. Bassist Ryan O’Leary is a one-man acrobatic troupe as he makes the most of the small stage area by spinning, bouncing, kicking his leg overhead, and throwing in high-flying split jumps. The fans are eating it up. He even gets up close with them during “When Everything Means Nothing” when he drops into the pit and climbs on top of the crowd.

Going back to the 2016 album Deathgrip, they tear through “Cold Room,” “Dead Memory,” and the title track. Returning to more songs from Dark Skies, Ryan tells the crowd to jump before they play “The Price of Agony,” while many others take to crowd-surfing. The song also features some ripping guitar by Daniel Gailey. Before the next song, “Oblivion,” Ryan says “this song goes out to tonight’s headliner, Ice Nine Kills.”  It is a hard-hitting song that features both harsh vocals, as well as some soaring passages as he belts out the lines “tell me I won’t be forgotten, if just for the moment.” It is definitely one of the highlights of their set. They wrap it up with “Tower of Pain.”

After an extended break, the anticipation of the headliner is starting to consume many of the fans as they press against the barrier up front while music from the Halloween soundtrack. There are many with their faces painted, some wearing “Thank God It’s Friday” masks, a contingent of Scream VIP fans are at stage left, and many others have Ice Nine Kills swag on. Finally, the lights dim and the band takes the stage as the fans erupt with cheers and screams. 

This Ice Nine Kills show is as much about the music as it is the visual spectacle with the various horror movie-themed costumes they wear along with stage props. Their latest album The Silver Scream pays homage to some of the classic horror movies such as A Nightmare on Elm Street, Scream, Saw, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and Halloween. They get the fans whipped up in a frenzy early as they kick it off with “Thank God It’s Friday” that has singer Spencer Charnas dressed like Jason Voorhees and wielding a machete. The fans love it as they wave and sing along.

Providing the killer music is the duel guitar attack of Dan Sugarman and Ricky Armellino, bassist Joe Occhiuti, and drummer Patrick Galante. They keep it flowing with “The Jig Is Up” and “SAVAGES,” the latter featuring Spencer with a chainsaw. More than half of the set comes from The Silver Scream or its extended release The Silver Scream Final Cut. Several songs are interleaved in the set from the 2015 album Every Trick in the Book including “The Nature of the Beast,” “Hell in the Hallways,” and “Me, Myself, & Hyde.” “The Fastest Way to a Girl’s Heart Is Through Her Ribcage” is the oldest song tonight, from the 2014 album The Predator Becomes the Prey.

Some of the highlights include thunderous drumming during the thrashing “Communion of the Cursed,” an appearance of a shark during “Rocking the Boat,” and Spencer wearing a Santa hat and waving an axe during “Merry Axe-Mas” amid green and red strobe lights while letting out screams. While all of this is happening on stage, the fans have been having a riot singing along, waving, bouncing, and many have taken to crowd-surfing, keeping security up front busy. Spencer keeps the fun going as he asks the crowd, “are you ready to dance,” before they launch into a cover of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.”

Another highlight is a young Michael Myers clown costume with a large knife and a white sheet ghost character from Halloween. Spencer licks the knife and leads the crowd in “Hey” cheers before slitting a girl’s throat. They slow it down a bit with just Spencer accompanied by Joe on keyboards for “Tess-timony” and Spencer tells the ladies to get on their friend’s shoulders. Returning to the heavy stuff, they crank it up with the ripping song “Me, Myself & Hyde” to a sea of red strobe lights. They wind it down with “The American Nightmare” and close it out with the encore song “IT is the End.” Wow! What a great set and awesome stage show by Ice Nine Kills. In fact, all the bands were great tonight. The fans surely got their money’s worth.

Ice Nine Kills seems to be hitting their stride with this latest album and tour, as many songs are getting regular rotation on channels like SiriusXM Octane, as well as many of the dates on this tour were sold-out. If you get a chance, be sure to catch them sometime when they come through a city near you. This US tour is wrapping up, but they will be hitting some festivals in Australia in December and then touring Europe with Hollywood Undead and Papa Roach in February and March.

ICE NINE KILLS
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FOR FOR A KING
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LIGHT THE TORCH
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AWAKE AT LAST
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SAINT ANDREWS HALL
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About Gary Pahlow 19 Articles
Gary is located in Rochester Hills, MI and has been officially photographing and writing concert reviews since early 2016. His main music interests are metal and hard rock, but he is also a fan of most genres including alternative, indie, jazz, and even some pop and country. When not covering or attending concerts, you can find him traveling with his wife or watching the Detroit Red Wings.