New Model Army are a band not to be taken lightly, over the last three decades they have been the conscience of the punk/folk/indie music intelligentsia. With ‘Winter’ they have released an album which is very much on point with the world we live in, yet still perfectly fits in the New Model Army catalogue proving that they are a band ahead of their time or maybe more fittingly even, a band for changing times. Born out of a troubled city, Bradford, New Model Army have never shied away from contentious subjects: drug addiction; corporate greed; environmental abuse; immigration, nothing is beyond Justin Sullivan’s sharpened quill and subtly lisping vocals.
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And so it is on Winter, calls for social revolution in the guitar stomp ‘Burn The Castle’ sit next to drum laden songs about dissatisfaction, guitar ballads about immigrant desperation and, in a return to their origins, a fair few bass guitar led tracks. Musically there are no major surprises here except possibly that the overall quality of the album is as good as it has been since 1993’s ‘Love of Hopeless Causes’. The surprise is that after thirty years in the industry the band still care so much about the world, that they are still sadly in love with the hills that surround them and the other inhabitants of this doomed planet. The moments when they are at their most poignant is when embracing contentious topics such as immigration. As you would expect from a band with the principles of equality and social justice there is a melancholy sympathy to the plight of those fleeing war and starvation to other shores promising safety and a new start “Winter storms and the snow flying, razor wire and the gulls crying, cross the water or die trying” sings Justin Sullivan on Die Tryin’ and you are never in doubt that he means it. It is a record with a heartbeat, full of love and loss, of anger and desperation yet still somehow an optimistic album.
While they are no longer getting banned from America for sporting offensive (“only stupid bastards use heroin”) t-shirts as they did in 1985 their voice can be heard all around the world calling for the villagers to “burn the castle”. Fetch your pitchforks, the feudal lords should be worried, New Model Army are on the warpath, still!
‘Winter’ is out now via Attack Attack