Iceage are four scrappy teenagers from Copenhagen, Denmark who have slowly leaked over to these shores with their gripping, angst-ridden debut, New Brigade. Terms such as “saviors of punk” have been thrown around, but the more ethical description would be from the Danish Daily saying, “Teenage bullies full of anger and anxiety.” The music is ferocious, scattering everywhere and full of that pissed off attitude that has been missing from punk these days. That, “not fake” attitude mind you.
Iceage ride along the lines of post-punk, garage, goth and '80s hardcore. The vocals are snotty, yet more refined like Ian Curtis during his Warsaw days. The musicianship is loose and raw, sort of resembling Wire or the scathing side of Public Image Ltd. Already known for their intense and dangerous live shows, these four lads, ages 17-19, are leaving their own trail and what’s great about this release is how fresh it all feels. The post-punk revival of the '00s can’t touch this stuff. This is post-punk straight from the gutters and streets of the late '70s, early '80s.
There is energy in this release and cuts such as “Count Me In,” “Rotting Heights” and the title track showcase this youthful spite. The guitars shred and the drums pound out with the speed of old school acts like Minor Threat and Hüsker Dü. The garage feel comes from the fuzzed out vocals and it made me think of Radio Birdmen or the Sonics. There is such a wealth of references here and the band takes all the best parts of those groups, dissecting them and spitting out their own interpretation.
“Collapse” starts off with a strummed out guitar squeal and the intensity is carried throughout the entire track while the band keeps a rollercoaster-like pace. It’s arguably one of their best. All vocals are sung in English, but the interpretation of lead singer Elias Rønnenfelt is a bit hard to understand. Regardless, you know he means what he’s singing. It’s very personal and in your face. Other highlights, like “White Rune,” show the band messing around with a more artsy, Pop Group demeanor while “Total Drench"'s opening bass riff sounds just like Joy Division’s “Transmission.” The 12 tracks contained here rush by at around 25 minutes and one is left wanting more.
Another thing to mention is the production on these songs. It was all done in a studio, but the recordings sound like a band’s dream come true. They actually managed to make an album sound exactly like it should. There are no studio tricks or hidden delicacies. This is like an album lost in the moldy basement of some old English punk who stuck to his local legends. Old but new, strained yet refined, New Brigade is punk reborn.
Iceage are a young band on the verge of making it big, at least in punk circles. Having played the states with the likes of Fucked Up, Raw Nerve, Cult of Youth and the Men, Iceage have proven their worth and it’s time everyone gave them a shot. Keep your eyes and ears open for these guys down the line. There is something very special going on here.