In 1984 New Model Army released their debut album Vengeance. Despite a running length of less than half an hour the eight songs on Vengeance had a definite impact on underground music scenes throughout the U.K. and beyond. The album hit the top of the Indie charts and the bands logo began to appear in all the right places and on the back of all the right leather jackets, etc.
My introduction to New Model Army was via their next E.P. The Price – that record remains my favourite release by the outfit. That said, I hadn’t heard Vengeance for almost 25 years until a few days ago. As I played the first song Christian Militia I instantly sensed the short drum roll that punctures the sound at about 16 seconds in. Waves of goosebumps went through me. Feeling like I was in the very best kind of time machine I was taken back to being a 15-year-old in an instant. Lost lyrics ran through my mouth.
The thing about New Model Army is for me the appeal of a band that were ‘now’ having such a strong clear message. Poetry. Artwork. Live performance. They had CRASS like qualities for a generation who’d just missed out on Epping’s finest.
Also bands like Siouxsie & The Banshees had clearly seen their better days. With New Model Army, momentarily it felt like things really were looking forward. Slogans like ‘Young, Gifted & Skint’ resonated. So, New Model Army, a new generations heroes?
EMI came sniffing and the band signed to the major. Ironically Conflict damaged New Model Army given my CRASS comparison with their live album ‘Only Stupid Bastards Help EMI’. As New Model Army hit the charts it felt diluted all of a sudden.
Bands like Napalm Death have little in common at all (with New Model Army) but the underground momentum went to bands of this emerging noise / art meltdown. Rightly so too.
If, like me you momentarily saw New Model Army as the band of the moment in the mid 80’s then I suggest another listen, especially to their early material. Few songs go so outright for the jugular like ‘Vengeance’ (the song from the same album). Few songs rattle instruments and vocal urgency in parallel like ‘Notice Me’.
New Model Army are a band time has not really blemished. I can’t recall getting goosebumps via music in such a euphoric way like listening to this album did a few days ago. Three days on and I’m still listening. A great, great record…