New Model Army - Between Wine And Blood

New Model Army set out the stall early ("We joined the battle between right and wrong / When we were so young and certain" - 'According To You'), a reminder that the line gets a little fuzzier with age. Thirty years on from Vengeance, back when their approach to the issues of the day was a little more hands on, Justin Sullivan and co. are still here, their Green-tinged humanism now coloured by experience ("They say that the meek shall inherit the earth / Except they shan't" - 'Angry Planet') yet the fatalism has never fully extinguished the fire inside.

Less than twelve months since the well-received Between Dog And Wolf, they return with this six-track mini album (boosted by an eleven track live disc) and more passion in their belly than bands half their age. The musical formula remains pretty straightforward: powerful, expertly arranged alt-rock that mostly eschews the pastoral edge that has been the other side to their ouevre since the late 80s. Sullivan remains the band's driving force, his distinctive vocal rasp the constant throughout. His is a gift that can imbue a simple van ride with significance ('Sunrise'), and its this sense of togetherness and belonging that has kept NMA's tribe of fans onside all this time. Between Wine And Blood may have the air of the stop-gap, but it's a good one nevertheless. Drink deep, and (re)discover one of our best - but least heralded - bands.

Overall

7

out of 10

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