Show Review: Ice Nine Kills and Avatar at the Hard Rock Casino of NWI in Gary, IN

I’ve been wanting to both see and cover Avatar for years now, but could just never make it happen, until now. Not only that, but I was finally able to catch Ice Nine Kills to be able to witness all the hype firsthand, so there couldn’t have been a better combination than both Avatar and Ice Nine Kills on the same tour alongside In This Moment and New Year’s Day. Even though Halloween already happened, you wouldn’t have known that once you stepped inside the Hard Rock Casino of NWI on the first date of the Kiss of Death Tour.

Avatar are probably one of the most unique live acts to see, not only cause they’re extremely talented musicians, but they have this innate ability to draw in the most skeptical attendee with their on-stage charismas and personality paired with their hard-hitting and catchy metal. From the first moment, Johannes seemingly crawls out of a small, 1×1 box with his single red balloon greeting the crowd in glee to the final guitar solo, Avatar has your 100% attention locked in.

A band that has evolved from record-to-record just like the “greats” of metal, Avatar have also consistently improved and amped up their live performance alongside their musicianship. With Johannes’ diverse vocal range and the rest of the band’s ability to write fast-paced and heavy riffs and breakdowns along with catchy choruses, it’s no surprise Avatar has made a name for themselves. Bringing all the pomp and circumstance to this tour, Avatar didn’t let up on the gas once as they powered, pummeled, and crushed their set all with a pageantry and stagecraft akin to Kiss or Slipknot.

Even more interesting is how you can definitely hear the black metal/extreme metal influence in their music (remember they’re from Sweden), but instead actually enjoy themselves and are having fun creating an inviting atmosphere that feeds into the fans making the room wanting to headbang in unison and bantering with them from the crowd. Avatar isn’t a band to sleep on any longer, so if you haven’t had the chance to catch them like me, now’s your chance.

One of the fastest-growing metalcore bands currently that seemingly have found a second coming, Ice Nine Kills returned to the Hard Rock Casino of NWI in support of In This Moment thankfully this time with no bus issues and no cancellations. I remember when Ice Nine was gracing the stages of Warped Tour and opening up for so many of the other “larger” mid-2000s Hot Topic metalcore acts at the time. In addition, I know a ton of people who saw them at The Eagles VFW Hall and Camelot Hall when they were just starting out, so to see where they are now is pretty wild.

Similar to the horror icons they love, Ice Nine refuses to stay down whereas many other acts from their time never found a second wind resulting in them eventually fizzling out. Ice Nine became the exception, instead doubling down on their already established aesthetic and approach to music and shows now providing a full-fledged theater production on top of the music.

Ice Nine Kills has been one of the most consistent metalcore bands from that era of mid-2000s metalcore finding that perfect sweet spot of heavy and catchy, without leaning too much on one or the other. With this, Ice Nine have been extremely consistent from record to record delivering exactly what their fans want and expect, while still evolving their sound, making sure not to completely abandon their core, foundational style. Mixing metal and punk, INK combined their fascination and obsession with horror and pop culture with melodic hooks, heavy breakdowns, and a high-level theater production creating a marriage of music and fiction that all their own.

INK’s live shows can be compared to Alice Cooper, Rob Zombie, or even Slipknot with the high level of pageantry attached filled with set pieces, plot lines, on-stage actors, and more fully immersing the crowd into INK’s scary and terrifying world. Filled with references from across multiple movies including Scream, Nightmare on Elm Steet, Texas Chainsaw, Psycho, Halloween, American Psycho, and more, INK kept the show rolling with zero intermissions creating the feeling of you’re watching a horror movie unfold right before your eyes.

There’s a reason why INK has cultivated such an intense and dedicated following and it isn’t just from opening up for big acts like Metallica or playing big fests. It’s because of their commitment to providing the highest quality live show possible. An absolute blast from start to finish, INK provides a level of musicianship and showmanship that is hard to come by and even harder to do well.

Ice Nine Kills

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