The future belongs to the young. Especially if you’re able to keep together a bunch of friends who happen to have the same hobby of making music. Many great and famous bands we know to today saw the day of light in the early formative years of its members. Though they’re not famous in the way Pink Floyd is, Iceage is a band who are deemed by some to reach great heights. A month ago, ‘the saviors of punk music’ released their third full album on the prestigious Matador label. And just for a tease: the boys have been growing up very fast.
Iceage’s members, Elias Bender Rønnenfelt (vocals/guitar), Johan Surrballe Wieth (guitar), Jakob Tvilling Pless (bass) Dan Kjær Nielsen (drums) were all born in Denmark in the early nineties and were friends long before Rønnenfelt suggested to form a punk band in 2008. It took the comrades three years to reach their first milestone in the form of a 2011 debut album. New Brigade, was a hard hitting work of fury that was picked up in the United States later that same year. From that moment on that band’s fame rapidly rose. The quartet got a deal at Matador and released their second, You’re Nothing in 2013, which was even wilder and more chaotic than New Brigade. Naturally the lads also toured around the world playing very messy punk shows and filled dozy local punk scenes with life once more.
So today, Iceage is all hyped up and dropped their third full album in the stores a month ago. When Plowing Into the Field of Love is summed up, I would say its a hard-mouthed vortex of vigour sternness. Iceage’s, now familiar vigour is best to be heard on tracks such as ‘How Many’, ‘Let It Vanish’ and ‘Simony’. ‘How Many’ starts out with some piercing guitar scales comes to a break in the midsection and pushes on forward led by a heavily sighing Rønnenfelt. The tense ‘Let It Vanish’ has a traditional punk refrain: “Start, the hunt. Let it Vanish. Hunt!” Rønnenfelt screams while the band explodes into brutal grimness. Also ‘Simony’ is a new test case for the bands unflinchingly love for traditional punk hooks, only with Iceage’s distinctive fatigue sound in it. ‘Stay’ and ‘Cimmerian Shade’ belong to the more stern side of the music of Iceage. Both tracks are constructed around some well placed tempo changes that emerges from eerie beginnings. ‘Stay’ is mostly a controlled song which wants to break free but never really does whilst ‘Cimmerian Shade’ begins with some mechanical powerhouse drumming of Nielsen and is assisted by a doomy guitar and the short-winded groaning Rønnenfelt and is steadily played out with some severe roughness.
Indeed, the aforementioned vigour sternness is in fact nothing new for Iceage. Plowing Into the Field of Love really differs from its predecessors when it comes to its hard-mouthedness. Here ‘Glassy Eyed, Dormant and Veiled’ serves as a fine example. The track is a sinister and choppy piece of work that combines machine gun drumming, rolling walls of distorted guitars and downhearted horns into a fascinating post-punk track. This wayward manner exploring is what makes this album special, ‘On My Fingers’, the albums title track are other bizarre and unsettling examples of Iceage’s current journey into the terrain of baroque-punk. Luckily Iceage never becomes a band of pretension and counted the experiment with ‘The Lord’s Favorite’, good for some old fashioned pub crawling, and the down tempo ‘Against the Moon’, which is nice background music for a drunk walk home.
What I like best about Plowing Into the Field of Love is the fact that its contents balances on the edges of traditional punk and tries to stretch beyond the usual. Iceage doesn’t wants to get trapped straightjacket and spasmodically succeeds to break free. Thematically the album is dark; lyrics about gloomy empty voids and impotence are dominant and are restlessly supported by the other members of the band. I agree thats not something you might expect from a group of youngsters in the punk scene. Nevertheless, Iceage dares to shape a new future for punk music. For this reason Plowing Into the Field of Love is also an accessible album for those who don’t have much interest for punk at all and, without blowing it out of proportions, could be among the best album this year has had to offer.
Label: Matador, 2014
Iceage will visit the Dutch ‘Le Guess Who?’ festival on November 21th 2014.
- On My Fingers (5:14)
- The Lord’s Favorite (3:49)
- How Many (3:21)
- Glassy Eyed, Dormant and Veiled (4:33)
- Stay (4:14)
- Let It Vanish (3:58)
- Abundant Living (2:30)
- Forever (4:51)
- Cimmerian Shade (4:35)
- Against the Moon (3:27)
- Simony (3:17)
- Plowing into the Field of Love (4:05)
Review by Wander Meulemans // 181114