Iceage – You’re Nothing

In 2011 four Danish teenagers called Iceage released a very good debut album – or more accurately, they released a few very good songs tucked within 25 minutes of unbridled energy. From that promising start You’re Nothing ups the ante in almost every regard. On its sophomore outing the band sounds firmly in control of the proceedings, harnessing its fury into a taut dynamic tension.

If anything You’re Nothing draws more heavily than its predecessor from the playbook of punk’s old school (Chicago campus), with double-time drumming (the fusillade of the opener brings Ministry to mind) and pounding basslines. It’s rare that a band needs to declare an “Interlude” just two songs in, but after the blast furnace intensity of “Ecstasy” and “Coalition” it’s actually warranted – although said respite’s hovering helicopters and martial drums are hardly calming.

Just as Trash Talk leverages skate thrash and Fucked Up delves into prog, Iceage is advancing the hardcore paradigm by injecting a dose of Northern European severity and doom. Dare I use the word Teutonic? It’s a baggage-laden term Iceage would rather avoid. Elias Ronnenfelt can’t help it if his deep, bellowing voice conveys that sense of authoritative foreboding, but the word certainly works as a descriptor. And it’s not like this quartet is cracking many smiles along the way.

Iceage certainly appreciate the value of brevity, extending this album only four minutes beyond their brief debut. And although they’ve written more memorable songs this time out, Iceage still skates by on mood more than a great band should – a few more hooks would be welcome. But when they’re firing on all cylinders – as on “Ecstasy,” “Morals,” and the nihilistic title track, which would be at home on an early Husker Du EP – You’re Nothing packs the wallop of a genre breakthrough.

You’re Nothing