Review: New Model Army – From Here

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Alternative icons New Model Army's fifteenth studio album takes us in a more experimental direction.

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Alternative Rock band New Model Army are releasing their fifteenth studio album on 23 August.  They rose to fame in the 80s with their debut album Vengeance, for its hard rock sound and lyrics.  Having been labelled as everything from punk or goth to metal, New Model Army have been key players in the alternative music scene since they formed in 1980, although they have been known to reject genre labels, refusing to categorise their musical style.  From Here takes the band in a slightly different direction to what fans may be used to, reflecting personal change and evolving influences.

From Here begins with opening track ‘Passing Through’.  This song is characterised by its powerful build up, with the guitar and bass effects getting gradually stronger throughout.  Lyrically, it sets up the album as an introspective work.  Lead vocalist Justin Sullivan’s deeply personal song writing doesn’t falter in this new album.  Guitars are at the forefront of ‘Passing Through’, even when the track takes an unexpectedly acoustic turn towards the end.

Following this opener comes ‘Never Arriving’, with its pounding drums and darker guitar sounds, showcasing classic post-punk influences.  Sullivan’s vocals are particularly engaging in this track.  It’s similar in tone to ‘Passing Through’, gradually building up, but not quite reaching the heavy rock heights that fans may be hoping to hear on the new album.

One of the best parts of the album is how it works as a whole; sonic and lyrical unity are prioritised in From Here, creating an album that is fantastic to listen to as a whole.  New Model Army recorded the entire record in just 9 days in a Norwegian Studio, and the atmosphere of the album is heavily inspired by this environment.

The apocalyptic ‘End Of Days’ holds the lyrical and vocal intensity that the band are so well known for.  But that isn’t to say that New Model Army haven’t changed at all – ‘Great Disguise’ takes a much more musically experimental approach to their typical sound, without forgetting the heavy guitar and effects that has always served them so well.  Similar to this is ‘Maps’, a song so mysterious and experimental in its sound it would easily fit in with the Game of Thrones soundtrack.

New Model Army have been open about this latest release being musically different from what listeners have heard before.  With this decision there is always a risk that long-time fans won’t like what they hear, but there’s no doubt that the group have created a fantastic piece of music with From Here.  With its lyrical strength and rich musical soundscapes, New Model Army have shown who they are today without compromising the music that fans know and love.

New Model Army’s From Here is out 23 August via Attack Attack Records.

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Records Editor 2019/2020. Second year French and Spanish student. Always going through some kind of music-based phase, frequently crying about The Cure.

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