New Model Army – Thunder And Consolation Review
By Adam McCann
EMI Records – 1989 – Post Punk
By the late 80’s, on the back of excellent albums such as ‘The Ghost of Cain’ and ‘No Rest For The Wicked’, New Model Army (NMA) had built up a strong and dedicated fanbase. The course of the 80’s had seen NMA evolve from post-punk worship of bands like The Jam to developing their own distinct sound and 1989 would see the band consolidate their stranglehold on the genre with the seminal ‘Thunder And Consolation’.
This album would see NMA push their sound beyond their usual remit and would see the bands biggest change in sound since their inception. ‘Thunder…’ takes the band into a different direction by adding an element of folk into the music of NMA, which can be seen with the emphasis of Justin Sullivan using an acoustic guitar, alongside the addition to keyboards to fill out of the sound, which had previously been filled with distortion. Moreover, this folk sound is pushed more into the mix by Ed Alleyne-Johnson who joined the band on violin.
NMA and in particular Sullivan had been honing their craft and whilst songs such as ‘Ballad of Bodmin Pill’ and ‘Family’ show flashes of the bands previous sound with its bouncing bass leading the band forward, alongside the lyrics of venom and protest which have come to be expected from NMA. However, unlike the bands previous work, Sullivan’s lyrics take a much more introspected view with ‘Thunder…’ and when coupled with the folk elements of ‘Green And Grey’, ‘Family Life’, ‘Stupid Questions’ and ‘Vagabonds’, this album really does steal the show, particularly with its smouldering violin parts.
With ‘Thunder…’, NMA reached a pinnacle, the hard work that the band had lain down previously was reaping dividends culminating in this album. Yes, it certainly makes a move away from the bands previous sound, but with that, NMA settle into a sound which would define the remainder of their career.
Rating : 92/100
MHF Magazine/Adam McCann