tue 28/01/2020

CD: New Model Army - Winter | reviews, news & interviews

CD: New Model Army - Winter

CD: New Model Army - Winter

They once believed in 'getting the bastards'. What do they believe in now?

New Model Army: a dark, muscular energy

Casual fans of New Model Army may be surprised at how doggedly the band has plied its trade – aside from a couple of brief breaks, the boys haven't stopped for over 35 years. Nor have they ever let up on their revolutionary spirit. Even when there have been slight shifts of style, their musical essence – a visceral mix of punk, folk, and sheer bloody-mindedness – has remained. This year, however, main man Justin Sullivan turned 60. Surely, by now, he's beginning to mellow?

Not a bit. Winter feels as passionate as the band's last "proper" offering, Between Wolf and Dog, which, in turn, delighted fans with its fervour. This new LP, however, is heavier. Songs like "Eyes Get Used to the Darkness" are a maelstrom of post-punk guitar and spat-out vocals. And even when the guitars are unplugged – such as on "After Something" – there's a dark energy. 

Lyrically, the album moves away from politics to a more abstract approach. For instance, when Sullivan sings "burn the castle" ("Burn the Castle"), it's as much about individual frustration as society. Similarly, the ballad "Die Trying" mixes melancholy, dissatisfaction and personal encouragement: "Winter storms and the snow flying/ razor wire and the gulls crying/ cross the water or die trying".

This lyrical detachment suits them. It gives Winter an air of wisdom – the work of a band that has lived a little, and learnt a lot. Although the album dips a little towards the end, for the most part, this is NMA at their most muscular and affecting. The title track is a particular gem – intense chords, rumbling bass lines and portentous vocals which proclaim: "And I knew that the end was coming and I wished that it was over/ Bring me the snowfall, bring me the cold wind, bring me the winter." Powerful stuff indeed.

This new LP is heavier - a maelstrom of post-punk guitar, and spat-out vocals

rating

Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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Whilst not as good as Between Dog and Wolf still an effective collection of songs. Still have the old fire and passion as always. Checked them out liv at the Tramshed in Cardiff last weekend. These songs definitely come into their own live

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