ICEAGE, a punk rock band from Copenhagen, will soon release a second album, You’re Nothing. They announced their presence in 2011 with New Brigade, bringing an in your face PUNK and HARDCORE compound. This latest album is tempered with more sophisticated twists typical of noise punk and post-punk. Think of JOY DIVISION mixed with Zen Arcade era HÜSKER DU, and a splash of seventies era UK Punk, and you are close. While New Brigade was accusatory and challenging with plenty of rough edges, You’re Nothing is more introspective, not just with song structure but with lyrics as well. The sound is not as rough and half formed, it’s become more sharp and pointed: instead of clubbing you to death they are going to pierce you with arrows.
With a voice that can go subtle like Joe Strummer yet destroyed and accusatory like Iggy Pop, Elias Bender Rønnenfelt fronts a band that layers heavy, racing drums with super fast guitars that build to frenetic crescendos. In a live show, they are combustible, igniting the crowd to controlled anarchy (when there’s enough of an audience to fill the room.) This band has become recognized not only for their sound but also for their resistance to hype, they angrily maintain their independence and creative control, reluctantly doing interviews or promoting themselves. Essentially ICEAGE loves to hate you, refusing to become famous. Regardless of your personal opinion on buzz and bands-of-the-moment, ICEAGE backs it up with skill and a twist on punk that has not been seen until now. With this devoted DIY ethic, they were to signed to Matador, an established and well-regarded indie label.
You’re Nothing begins with Ecstasy, announcing it’s presence with plenty of feedback and indistinct crashing guitars and percussion, Elias screams about “Pressure, pressure oh God no!” “Coalition” features screams about “Excess!!” and the chorus lands like a finger pointed at the world. “Burning Hand” features tortured screams, building up intensity, demanding fervently “Do you hear me? Don’t come close!” and ends with punchy guitar progressions over the trademark heavy cymbals. “Rodfæstet” is a song in their native Danish; it translates to “Rooted,” and is the most straight-up punk song of the record. The stand out track is “Morals” featuring keyboards and Elias lamenting, “To be someone like you/unable to carry life’s weight.” In three minutes and twenty two seconds ICEAGE manages to speed up and dial down the song twice, forcing you from introspective to exposed and back again, to end with almost a minute of steady, marching drums, following the last loaded question “Where’s your morals?!” As these young and ideology-fueled musicians keep going, here is to hoping that question holds true and that the spirit that motivates them does not burn out.