Ice Nine Kills have to return some videotapes on their new American Psycho inspired pop-metalcore outing, ‘Hip To Be Scared.’
In 2014, Ice Nine Kills released this edit of that iconic “Do you like Hewy Lewis and the News?” scene from American Psycho – one of the biggest, most versatile music memes to ever grace the internet. On July 10th, 2021 INK released a new song called ‘Hip To Be Scared,’ inspired by the cult classic film (and book) that’s all about outward projection and the social masks we wear. Transforming what was once a memey edit once uploaded to their YouTube channel into a whole damn song and a full-blown blood-letting visual. By no means the first time that American Psycho has influenced a heavy music work – some may note Chimara’s 2005 track, ‘Bloodlust,’ and Australian and New Zealand hardcore aficionados will recall the heavy use of samples from the film used on Antagonist A.D’s ‘Nothing From No One‘ LP – INK add their spin on it with a real sense of class.
Long before 2018’s ‘The Silver Scream‘ altered their careers in an incredibly positive way, Ice Nine Kills have always been movie nerds: the artwork for ‘The Burning‘ EP from 2008 looks like a knock-off Cabin Fever poster, and they have a song from 2010 that’s literally called ‘The People Under The Stairs‘, the same name of a 1991 Wes Craven flick, in which the song’s music video was a re-do of the opening farmhouse scene from Inglorious Bastards. INK may very well jack most of their ideas from other media – it was literary inspirations they chose for 2015’s ‘Every Trick In The Book‘ – but I’ll be sliced up and dumped in the ocean off the coast of Miami like a Dexter victim before I concede that they don’t do this movie gimmick authentically, earnestly, and entertainingly so.
After the massive success of that mostly solid 2018 LP, a follow-up record in the same vein was perhaps always going to be on the cards. So now a sequel album titled ‘The Silver Scream 2: Welcome to Horrorwood‘ has been greenlit and is due out later this year via Fearless Records. Hopefully, it will go down better than most horror movie sequels. (Saw A Quiet Place Part II recently, was bad.)
Enter ‘Hip To Be Scared,’ an obvious play on the name of that particular 1986 Huey Lewis and the News hit, and its towering choruses and Broadway-esque nature. Like INK’s previous single that wasn’t a cover, ‘Your Number’s Up,’ their theatrically violent metalcore take on the first Scream, this latest slasher is a very accurate horror-core breakdown of Bret Easton Ellis’ original 1991 story. Just minus all of the really weird shit and the more grim moments; “weird” as in dissociated investment banker protagonist, Patrick Bateman, eating handfuls of sand on the beach or being followed by a park bench; “grim” as in Patrick murdering a small child at the zoo in one short but gruesome chapter. (Bearing in mind that in the book and the film, he’s a colossally unreliable narrator.) So too is the music video, further channelling Mary Harron’s 2000 film adaptation of the book and characterisation of Mr Bateman – who was perfectly portrayed by a then up-and-coming Christian Bale – along with some really spot-on sets.
Here, witty references to the source material lay out the plot and larger themes of American Psycho, as well as Patrick’s daily life, very closely. It’s honestly quite thorough! The brand awareness in the intro services the original’s subtext of 80s hyper-consumerism breeding psychopathy, his beauty routines, that smug yuppie privilege, and a direct reference to the ‘returning some videotapes’ excuse Patrick uses to get out of social situations. There’s also a quick nod to that amusing business card scene, him screening all of his calls, the aforementioned infinitely popular Huey Lewis bit (Papa Roach’s Jacoby Shaddix features here, before joining in on a cool harmony part with frontman Spencer Charnas for the last chorus), and Patrick’s phone call confession to his lawyer following a gun-touting psychotic episode that acts as a sweet manic third verse that’ll make you pull this face. And of course, INK uses the same chilling and nihilistic final line from the film to conclude this song: “this confession has meant nothing.”
After all, this is not an exit.
Really, the only other thing the band could’ve potentially added in was some kind of nod towards the Dorsia restaurant or that eerie interview between Patrick and Willem Dafoe’s character, Detective Donald Kimball. That’s just how much effort the band have poured into this songs’ clever lyricism and homage-paying film clip. As always, these guys go all out with this approach: they even use a musical quotation of the ‘Hip To Be Squared‘ instrumental for that Huey Lewis skit, implementing some heavy 80s-sounding, reverberating drum machines during the subsequent breakdown to sell the era they’re pulling from.
Not enjoying what Ice Nine Kills are doing is totally fine. I can see how some would be put off by the constant movie referential nature of their writing, especially if one wasn’t familiar with the movies that they cover. And the band definitely overuse these ringing clocktower bells that strike on the downbeat of every few measures in this new single, so much so that it’s kinda distracting. But anyone calling them ‘generic’ after a song like this is only placing a huge and embarrassing self-report upon themselves.