Music Review: Iceage, You're Nothing

You're Nothing [Matador]

Iceage is not from the U.S. or even the U.K., although they sound at times like Wire crossed with Hüsker Dü or the band Ian Curtis and company would have formed after seeing Black Flag instead of the Sex Pistols. They are, depending on your preferred tag, a Danish "post-hardcore", "post-emo" or "post-punk" band. No "post" modifier is really required, however. Everything is "post" these days and Iceage travels on trails blazed decades before. The band's use of right-wing imagery and themes is certainly nothing new and hardly gained much traction as far as controversies go. The fact that a Danish post-everything band such as this can land on Matador only makes sense in 2013. In 2003, Iceage would likely not have risen above the underground VFW Hall, Book Your Own Fucking Life scene in this country. That's not to say they don't deserve to be on a higher profile label like Matador. They do, much the same as countless bands before them deserved, but never acheived that status. The other, allegedly noteworthy, thing about Iceage is their relatively young age. They were teenagers when they started the group. Teenagers playing punk rock? Pretty radical. No, they were and still are exactly the age you'd expect of a band that attacks it's music with violent, world-ending urgency.

None of the above makes You're Nothing—the band's sophomore full-length after 2010's New Brigade LP— any less worthy of loud, repeated plays. The album's opener "Ecstacy" is a washed out mess of guitars that sounds like snotty Brits taking the piss on an 80s SoCal hardcore band. It’s got a fast part and a faster part where the drums take off and the guitars seem so stupified and stuck in place, they can’t give chase. "Coalition" is all buzz saw guitars and angered alienation with a shouted one-line chorus of "Excess". "Interlude" begins with the sound of a distant train. There’s something sinister about it. It builds with the march of a snare drum. Perhaps this is one of those ultra right-wing themes that needs to be carefully monitored? Or not. "In Haze" has singer, Elias Bender Ronnefelt, in top punk vocal form (you one can almost see the spit flying into the mic) as the math rock guitars duel it out behind him. "Morals," the longest track at three minutes and twenty seconds, features a few piano chords over a guitar drone that could pass for the Strokes on heavy doses of Robotussin before it ascends into the chorus ending with those martial sounding snares again. "Everything Drifts" makes good use of a chunky Chuck Dukowksi bassline and "Rodfaestet" is a punk rock sprint sung in Dutch.

Iceage may not be the new age of anything, but they do justice to a long tradition of abrasive music that also manages to be both intelligent and tuneful—Chris Auman