By Kieran Graulich
In 2011, new Danish punk band Iceage made considerable noise in the music community with their debut album “New Brigade.” This was an admirable feat considering their age: many members of the band were still teenagers, when the band signed with What’s Your Rupture? in 2010. Their youth and energy gave them a leg up on their punk contemporaries, supplying them with the kick they needed to propel themselves to underground music superstars.
Iceage also had the advantage of a very unique sound: their music demonstrated a perfect execution of creating harmony out of chaos. With every song on their first two LPs, the highly distorted guitars, the haphazard drumming, the distressed and angry vocals by frontman Elias Ronnenfelt, all created the image of a rock band disintegrating right before your eyes. The music seemed to be discombobulated and recorded in utter dismay, yet this aesthetic only helped solidify Iceage’s signature sound.
On their new album, “Plowing Into the Field of Love,” the band continues with their usual brand of chaos and anguish, yet with a new approach.
In the year since their last album, Iceage seems to have matured. Like a glass of wine, they have grown richer and more tasteful with time. “PItFoL” is full of slower, more contemplative songs, new song structures, extra instrumentation and even an air of elegance. However, their signature ferocity is not drowned out by these new additions: every song sounds as pained and despondent as any song from their past two records.
Ronnenfelt’s vocals in particular sound as desperate as they ever have, yet much like the songs on this album, do not need to be delivered as quickly or angrily as before to convey this sense of desperation. Songs like “Stay” or “Glassy Eye, Dormant and Veiled” move at a considerably slower pace as opposed to the punk flavored tunes on their previous two records, yet you feel just as moved by the end of these songs, perhaps even more so than on older Iceage tracks like “Coalition” or “Wounded Hearts”.
Iceage, on this new album, are taking several influences from all around the musical globe: the record’s lead single “The Lord’s Favorite” carries an obvious Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds influence, and delves into rockabilly and country territory. The song “Against the Moon” brings in several orchestral flourishes such as violin and piano, and what seems to be an accordion. However, Iceage manages not to drown in their influences or lose their sound.
The band incorporates these new musical additions into their catalogue wonderfully, without letting it take over their sound. In fact, the songs that experiment are the ones that succeed the most; songs that stick the closest to the old Iceage formula, like “Let it Vanish” and “Cimmerian Shade,” don’t perform to the level that other songs on this album do.
Whether you like this album or not will largely depend on if you enjoy this band’s sound, as it is an acquired taste. However, if you’re willing to stick around and allow Iceage to grow on you with this wonderful third album, it will be very worth your while.
Kieran Graulich is a staff writer. Email him at email@example.com