Having celebrated their 30th anniversary in 2010, Bradford's New Model Army are one of modern music's great survival stories. This release sees them clock up a dozen studio albums and a glance at their tour schedule shows the quintet have no plans to take things easy - gigs across Europe and the UK take them up to Christmas.
If your music preferences centre around verse-chorus song structures with soaring hooks, thank you very much for coming, but this isn't for you. New Model Army take a leftfield approach to music that usually, but not exclusively, leans toward what would now be referred to as a classic rock sound. It begins in brooding tone with 'Horsemen', a surprising choice given how forgettable it is, but 'March In September' makes up for the opening number by utilising some urgent strings on an engaging track. The tribal percussion and chants of 'Did You Make It Safe?' are a prime example of how NMA are prepared to try something different, unfortunately it doesn't make for enjoyable listening here or on 'Pull The Sun'.
With some crunching chords, 'Storm Clouds' promises much, but fails to truly deliver. At the point where you expect your ears to be blown off, it actually peters out, whereas a predictably huge chorus would have made for an appropriate reward. The flip-side to this is the lead song that shares the album's title; a progressive number that clocks in at over six minutes during which the dynamics regularly change for thrilling results. It's just a shame that they fade the track out, instead of giving it the definitive ending it deserves, particularly as it is the last time that the album really grabs your attention. The remaining 20 or so minutes (overall duration is just over an hour) pass without incident, resulting in a low key ending to what has already been a record with more than enough moments of mediocrity or worse.
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