Iceage- New Brigade review

Jack Braunstein ('13)/ Underground Editor and Jack Braunstein ('13)/ Underground Editor

Iceage is a group of fiery Danish teenagers, currently riding a cloud of internet buzz in the States. Have no fear, even though the band hails from the land of the Viking, New Brigade saw a release date much earlier this year in the band’s homeland, but was recently pressed in the U.S. on What’s Your Rapture (http://www.whatsyourrupture.com). Now every stateside blogger is soaking his or her jeans over this album, possibly because the band hails from a land much more exotic (or bleak?) than the oversaturated Brooklyn scene, or because it’s very en la moda to freak out about bands who wear Fred Perry shirts, but most likely because the album splatters No Wave blood all over twelve breathless tracks with barely a moment’s rest to consider the sheer destruction of it all.

On New Brigade, Iceage wear their influences proudly on their collective sleeve, but since the group seems to take a little piece from every movement that has ever found a cool way of expressing anger or agony on the mean streets of New York City, that sleeve is more cluttered than those of only the most veteran cub scouts. Merit badges include: the jagged, muscular dissonance of DNA and the taut aggression of classic Wire, with flashes of the sheer technicality of a band like Darkthrone and the slack-jawed bleakness of Joy Division.

In an infamous scene in Quintin Tarantino’s 2009 WWII/ spaghetti western homage Inglourious Basterds, the audience (and the captured Nazi who soon meets a predictably gruesome fate) is introduced to “The Bear Jew,” who sadistically delivers the blunt force of martial justice-by literally beating fascist criminals to death with a baseball bat (yikes.) In this scene, the “Bear” ominously bangs his weapon of choice against the inside of the dark tunnel from which he appears with painfully slow strides before beginning to pummel the Nazi officer. New
Brigade’s intro consists of a skipping, reverb heavy tension-build, with which the album strides hungrily into its first track. If “Intro” is the foreboding echo of the bat hitting the tunnel walls, then “White Rune” is surely the actual assault. An early highlight of New Brigade, “White Rune” is clearly the product of a very well oiled unit: the strong-armed snare hits (in the record sleeve only credited to “Dan,”) robust bass tone and barked vocals all perfectly compliment each other in the mix.

“New Brigade” showcases Iceage at their most goth, but still stays coated in sweaty distortion. The song features one of the most straightforwardly punk choruses on the record and a guitar breakdown that, along with many other tracks on here, especially “Eyes,” brings back fond memories of Women’s Public Strain. Never static, the band follows the title track with “Remember,” which sort of sounds like the band pouring sand all over Titus Andronicus. The most immediately accessible track on New Brigade is “Broken Bone.” The song has the greatest pop sensibility on the album, but wears crunchy dissonance like a sweater. On another personal favorite of mine, Iceage cover their contemporaries, Sexdrome, putting some sugar on the originally very difficult to swallow “Count Me In.” From each restless count-in that drummer Dan starts up on this record comes a sweaty nugget of snarling punk goodness.

In no way do I think this album the game-changing masterpiece that seventy percent of the internet claims it is, but I sure had a great time getting into this record and expect very big things from these little Danes in the future.