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The serpent has awoken from slumber
on 13 December 2013
For bands that are really important to me, bands that I have supported for a lifetime, any new album release is a big deal, something to look forward to. To be honest when I first heard the album samples I was not that impressed. However with so many positive reviews I decided to take the plunge. Boy, am I glad I did.
After enduring a torrid time since they last released a studio album, with tragedy, fire, and theft plaguing them it's good to see them picking up the pieces, delivering what could be considered a High point in their carrier. The polemic anger and politically overt undertones are still there but instead of being delivered with angst and trigger happy young men ready to be martyred for their cause, it's delivered with the wisdom of the elders from the tribe. In all NMA music there exists an underlying sense of uneasiness, a sense that it could all kick off at any moment, this offering is no different. It's full of tension live a rubber band that's about to snap.
There's a powerful weaving of tribal drum beats, and the mixing and matching of mythic imagery that seems to regenerate old pagan beliefs letting them slowly permeate into the consciences of the modern world. Not unlike the Cult Dreamtime or early Spear of Destiny. The holistic sound is infused with a joined-up panorama of the elements, of decay and renewal, and of a sense of continuity in change. It like a return to the old ways, it's as if the serpent has awoken from slumber with a powerful resonance. The atmosphere of the music draws the listener in and congers up images of the dead strewn over the battlefield. It may have benefitted from a slightly more powerful and, gritty production which might have ensured that the strength of the music would have broken the surface to get deeper under your skin, never the less do not be distracted the experience takes you on a journey into some dark places and lesser walked paths. The band sounds rejuvenated and purposeful, The sound is vast and empty, as if the whole band were recorded in a vacuum. Even at its most visceral, it manages to lift the listener out of the studio and into the heart of nowhere ...
Propelled by Justin Sullivan's terse vocals and evocative lyrics, New Model Army are still able to wave the banner for the disenfranchised, perhaps this explains why they have outlived their contemporaries, and, through their continued relevance, and remain to have such an impact on our unstable society. The search for truth and contradiction is prevalent throughout. In absence of any real or singular "anthem", this album is unlikely to win new fans, but to the discerning listener, this is arguably one of the finest, creative collections New Model Army has assembled in years.
If you are a fan or just curious just buy it you will not be disappointed.