It’s hard not to think of Sweden’s Refused when pondering the phenomenon of Denmark’s Iceage. Both are Scandinavian. Both were formed when their members were in their teens. Both offer bracing, radical, yet fundamentally faithful reinterpretations of their chosen genres. But while Refused deconstructed post-hardcore, Iceage’s stunning debut, New Brigade, slaps vibrant new life into the worked-over corpse of post-punk, radiating a breathless, desperate, ramshackle charm that runs counter to the frigid gloom of the music. The disc’s opener and standout track, “White Rune,” simultaneously taps into Nordic apocrypha and hormonal melodrama—and it does so while grinding out a garage-sloppy take on the ethereal monochrome of Joy Division and early Death In June.
Elsewhere, New Brigade jitters with anarchic glee. “Remember” is a slashing, gloriously ascending anthem that feels like spring flowers cracking through glaciers. And “Count Me In,” with its goth shadows and hardcore bruises, sounds as savage and fractured as unsung ’90s forebears like Antioch Arrow. The album concludes with “You’re Blessed,” a melodic shout-along that kicks and soars where “White Rune” lurches and scowls. Time will tell whether the pubescent punks of Iceage will one day make a record as game-changing as Refused’s The Shape Of Punk To Come. But with New Brigade, they’ve definitely laid the groundwork.