New Model Army – Between Dog And Wolf

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Review by Tony Gaskin

Attack Attack

Rebel folk rockers New Model Army are back with their latest offering which in more ways than one marks a re-birth for Justin Sullivan’s band of troubadours. Death, destruction and departures have blighted the band in recent times so ha Justin puts it, “we in essence lost everything, we used this to make a new beginning.” And new beginning it is. Always an accomplished song writer, this time around that writing has been accompanied by a much more complex layer of sound than we’ve previously been used to with NMA. Punk inspired folk anthems have given way to beautifully crafted songs that are more thoughtful than angry.

Opening track ‘Horsemen’ actually reminds me of something Nick Cave would write; in fact the whole album would sit nicely in a collection that would include the likes of Mr Cave, Tom Waits, Morrisey et al. For the die-hard punks there are still glimpses of the old NMA, lead single ‘March In September’, ‘Did You Make It Safe’, and ‘Stormclouds’ providing the aggression but the overall mood is one of calm reflection. A consummate wordsmith, Sullivan’s lyrics are always poetic, ‘Knievel’ being especially good.

Production of the album was handled by the band themselves, a brave decision when you’re looking to take a new direction, but it’s been handled well and with the mixing duties handled by the legendary Joe Barresi (QOTSA, Tool, Soundgarden), the sound is crisp and clean, again not what you’d expect from NMA. New bass player Ceri Monger has brought his own style to the mix, gone is the distinctive loose twang of old and in comes fresh, melodic bass lines more suited to the gentler tone of the album.

For me, this is the album Sullivan should have progressed to at least 10 years ago, certainly it’s their best recordings since the late 80’s and one which should gain them a wider audience. Yes it may alienate some of the stuck in the mud fans, but I’m glad that things have forced Sullivan to step out of the quagmire and produce a top class album that deserves to be given a chance outside the comfort of the circle of the faithful.

Next year marks the 30th anniversary of their debut album Vengeance, and a feature-film documentary on the history of the band directed by Royal Television Society Award winning Director Matt Reid, which has been over 4 years in the making, is in the final stages of editing and is set for a release in early 2014. In the meantime, you can see them perform some of the new album, along with old classics, at The Robin2 in Bilston on 17 November.

New Model Army – Between Dog And Wolf9 out of 10

Track listing:

  1. Horsemen
  2. March In September
  3. Seven Times
  4. Did You Make It Safe?
  5. I Need More Time
  6. Pull The Sun
  7. Lean Back And Fall
  8. Knievel
  9. Stormclouds
  10. Between Dog and Wolf
  11. Qasr El Nil Bridge
  12. Tomorrow Came
  13. Summer Moors
  14. Ghosts