After already hearing Ecstasy, the opening track on the album, I was super excited to get my hands on You’re Nothing – the second offering from Danish four-piece Iceage.
The punk band from Copenhagen have been pigeon-holed into a movement called The New Way of Danish Fuck You, a kind of hardcore phenomenon currently ripping through the heart of the city’s underground music scene. It’s got to be said, this isn’t a statement I have been familiarising myself with, considering I have never even been to Denmark, but Iceage’s debut album New Brigade, released in 2011, was a fantastic record, and I was curious to see if You’re Nothing portrayed the same raw energy with the fresh post-punk-tinged brilliance of its predecessor.
Well, from the moment the feedback hits you as opener Ecstasy unfolds, the whole album is a race to the end, and the distorted guitars smothering the background drone in this track signify the starting gun. Elias Bender Ronnenfelt has the face of an angel. The frontman seems ethereal and withdrawn, yet his low gothic drawl drips with attitude, before he erupts screaming “Pressure, pressure, oh God no!” and knocks you for six. The high-speed energy continues, with upbeat and shouty Coalition, still maintaining that dark, dingy edge, and then Interlude kicks in with rhythmic drums which builds up to a crescendo, then comes to an abrupt end. Cue more shredding guitar riffs and an injection of powerful speed drumming, Burning Hand is reminiscent of The Horrors in their Strange House days, albeit a lot heavier, and In Haze is a more jangly affair, not battering your senses quite as brutally, but with deliciously gruff vocals still in tact. Morals is a personal favourite of mine, as raw vocals sear through the distortion, and the content of the song, which is slower than most, stands out when Elias inquires “Where’s your morals?” Haunting and intense, but nonetheless the album still doesn’t stop for breath.
It rushes forward and into the piercing squall of Everything Drifts, words spat out against a background of unusually high-pitched guitars, and it is uplifting to the point of making you want to leave what you’re doing and run as fast as you can without stopping. Carry on and Wounded Hearts is more of the same beautiful noise, giving you the urge to pogo up and down, raise your fist to the air and flail your arms, whilst imagining Elias yelling in your face – it’s easy to get lost in this song, with that lovely little melody bound to get stuck in your head, and it all fits in so well with the pace and feel of the album. Another firm favourite of mine. But as we near the finish line, Iceage are relentless.
It Might Hit First does just what it says on the tin and hits you like an anvil, followed by Rodfaetest, spinning off in more of a garage/grunge direction, laced with Ronnenfelts anguished Kurt-esque howl, before penultimate song Awake pushes you forth, heavy yet refreshing. “We’re running out of time…” chants Elias, and through the continual darkness etched into the album comes a sliver of light. And as the final song You’re Nothing comes to a close, he repeats the line over and over, drawing the short but sweet album to a perfect end, giving you a chance to catch your breath.
But why would you want to do that when you can get up listen to it all over again? And again?! Trust me, you will want to.
You’re Nothing is available to purchase now.
For more information on the band, check out one of the following:
Words by Holly Shakeshaft (@hollyshake)