Motionless in White/Ice Nine Kills – Belfast, Mandela Hall – 15 January 2018 Print E-mail
Written by Jonni D and Marc Leach   
Monday, 22 January 2018 04:40

“Mind your step, mate.” I thank the member of security as I narrowly avoid stepping in a fresh pool of teenage vomit, the first of many which floods the floor of the Mandela Hall. It is a mere ten minutes after doors’ opening.

 

The predominantly young crowd elicit excited squeals at every song played over the PA, mostly resembling the style of modern metalcore that has made tonight’s headliners one of the genre’s hottest attractions to this generation. Tonight is Motionless In White’s first return to these shores since the release of ‘Graveyard Shift’ last year, as well as the first date on the UK stint of this European tour in support of that album.

 

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Accompanying them on the tour is tonight’s sole support act, Ice Nine Kills. Despite the relatively empty room, plus the band arriving onstage thirty minutes later than scheduled, they enjoy a fairly enthusiastic reception. However, for the majority of Ice Nine Kills, this enthusiasm isn’t reciprocated. While Spencer Charnas flamboyantly prances in his burgundy trench coat, the remaining members of the band look thoroughly unengaged as they plough their way through their sugary strain of metalcore. Although technically proficient, it’s entirely indebted to predecessors such as Atreyu and It Dies Today; bands that were a going concern over ten years ago.

 

As his bandmates presumably decide what pizza to order after their set, Spencer discards his trench coat with the utmost drama, clutching his chest as he croons with the melodrama of a Spanish soap opera star. His guttural vocals are passable, if a bit cookie-cutter, but his cleans are his most distinctive yet problematic feature. It’s all comes across like a musical theatre kid having a bit of a rebellious phase, perfectly encapsulated by his over earnest delivery of, “I’ve been falling apart in the pouring rain,” on ‘Me, Myself and Hyde.” If nothing else, the band should be commended for their take on ‘The Shining’ in the form of ‘Enjoy Your Slay.’ In a world chock full of heinous Stephen King adaptations, this is up there with the most cringe-worthy, which is really saying something.

 

In all fairness to Motionless In White, they have often been the butt of many journalists’ jibes when it comes to their appearance. In a genre with very little character among the increasingly interchangeable nature of the bands, they ought to be at least applauded for making an effort to differentiate themselves from their slew of peers. That being said, tonight’s set is the epitome of style over substance. In the live setting they are ultimately victims of the overly processed sound of their own recordings, with every riff sounding paper-thin and Chris Motionless’ vocals failing to carry much further than the first few rows.

 

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They open with ‘Rats’, one of the singles from their most recent album, and are joined on stage by two scantily clad young women in dominatrix attire – oh, and mouse ears. This creative decision is made troublesome when bearing in mind the lyrics that Chris is singing just as the leather whips come out: “You’ve been a bad little girl, little girl/Close your eyes and listen close/I know just how much you love it/If you speak you lose your turnSo shut your mouth before I fuck it.”

 

While no-one else seems to be particularly put off by the onstage spectacle, it is difficult to reconcile the lyrical content in this context, especially when the audience appears to be largely made up of young females. The back-up dancers return mid-set for ‘A-M-E-R-I-C-A’, this time dressed in Uncle Sam uniforms and doll masks, spraying super soakers into the front rows. Once again, the crowd laps it all up, but any attempt at real satire is lost by how cheap this all seems. Rather than the scathing critique Motionless In White presumably intends, it has all of the credibility of a 15-year old writing a politically-charged blog post.

 

Most of the set-list comprises of ‘Graveyard Shift’ material, including ‘Necessary Evil’, ‘Soft’ and ‘Loud’, each of which are well-received despite how lacking in power they all sound. Older cuts don’t fare much better; the rhythmically disjointed ‘Abigail’ is perhaps the most egregious performance, while ‘Reincarnate’ drowns in its overwhelming synths. ‘Dead As Fuck’ parts one and two are played consecutively – what a treat – as well as a fairly underwhelming cover of System Of A Down’s ‘Chop Suey’, the frenetic riffing neutered by the spineless guitar tones.

 

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As the encore of ‘Eternally Yours’ wraps up their set, many of the younger fans in attendance are quick to vocalize their summation of the night: “I loved how dangerous it all was!” “That was the heaviest I’ve ever heard them play!” “Those two girls were sooo hot!”

 

Feeling rather exhausted, and not a little out of touch, I traverse the venue floor towards the stairs, bearing in mind to avoid the drying vomit patches along the way.

 

PHOTO CREDIT: All photos © Marc Leach/Uber Rock. View our full gallery of photographs HERE.

 

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