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Album Review

Milestone studio LP number ten for Bradford, England's NMA is their best and most jarring since 1993's The Love of Hopeless Causes, and possibly 1986's blistering The Ghost of Cain. It's a seat-of-the-pants ride through punk-edged rock and cooling breather songs, taking all of Justin Sullivan's long experience and transmitting it into something so fierce but beautiful that it's often breathtaking. Whoever picked Chris Kimsey to produce was on the ball; High recalls the resounding hellfire of his Killing Joke work on 1984's Night Time and 1986's Brighter Than a Thousand Suns. (Think "Eighties" and "Love Like Blood") And these guitars and organs are like a Geordie hollow-body Gretsch attack! Three songs speak volumes for this corker. The British service in Iraq is on Sullivan's mind on the zenith, hellacious closer "Bloodsports." (Note, not Killing Joke's 1980 song "Bloodsport," though great minds think alike.) Yet he's too smart to jump on a soapbox and shout. Much more personally than he did on the directly critical (of the Thatcher administration) "Spirit of the Falklands" in 1984, he puts you into a scared soldier's spinning emotions. This expression of impending doom, fear, death, and pity — while the rest of the world watches on TV — is impossible to shake no matter your war views. (The celtic "No Mirror, No Shadow" also hints at back room politics/business surrounding such conflicts.) It's memorably driven by an icy Killing Joke-ish death-star keyboard, two burning guitars, and bruiser Michael Dean's inhuman pummeling on the drums. The opening single, "Wired," is likewise as simple a straight-kicking song as they've done since "Wonderful Way to Go," with Sullivan and new find Marshall Gill trading up-down riffs into one of the Sullivan's trademark soaring, monster choruses. And the rocked-up folk of "All Consuming Fire," with its Peter Hook wandering bassline, is full of tremendous trepidation and pathos. Three other cuts revisit Sullivan's solo masterpiece, 2003's "Navigating by the Stars"; the romantic, dark-night acoustic mediations of "Sky in Your Eyes," "Into the Wind," and "Dawn." And others are in the vein of 2005's Carnival, 2000's Eight, and 1998's Strange Brotherhood: midtempo tribal pop with philosophical pack-behavior explorations. All provide High balance and repertoire with equal passion. In the end, "Bloodsports" alone beats anyone else at present. Its the Who's Tommy-meets-the Clash's "Safe European Home" power is just colossal. But the whole LP is great. That High comes from someone doing it as long as Sullivan and mates have been has made and still makes them a classic band to follow — then, now, and in the future. This cult band of cult bands is as effective and powerful as they've ever been in an unstoppable history.

Customer Reviews


New Model Army is the band that so many bands wish they were. It blows me away that after 27 years they can still put out music that is as good as their early stuff. Every NMA album is different than every other one, yet each one mesmerizes you with it's complexety, while remaining acessible at the same time. NMA have always held on to their artistic integrity when most "sold out". Every person i've takem to an NMA show walks away with a new definition of what music can be when the artists truly care about the art instead of just commercial success.

Still Got it!

Justin has mellowed to an even more angry dude. No apathy in these lyrics. It is refreshing to hear music so lyrically rich. There is a story in every song. The rythm section is tighter and punchier than ever. No one has ever made a cello sound so punk rock. Even the mellow stuff in incindiary.

As good now as they ever were...

When I first listened to this album I was impressed and immediately fell in love with it. This ranks with Ghost of Cain & Thunder and Consolation.


Formed: 1980 in Bradford, Yorkshire, England

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

To their impassioned cult of fans, New Model Army were one of the best post-punk outfits Great Britain ever produced. Combining the gut-level force of punk with the anthemic political fervor of U2 and the Alarm, as well as the urban protest folk of Billy Bragg, NMA sounded like few other bands mining similar post-punk territory. Their attack was hard, spare, and precise, but as time wore on, they were just as likely to deliver modern-day folk-rock replete with acoustic guitar, violin, and harmonica....
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High, New Model Army
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