New Model Army have been soldiering on in various guises since 1980, but it’s this collection of earlier works that captures the Bradford band at their most radical and vital. Living by John Lydon’s declaration that anger is an energy, they were (and still are) a post-punk band always with an ear for the anthemic.
Where others of their ilk chose different creative paths – Crass into their own crusty cottage industry, The Cult into feather earrings and arena rock – New Model Army trod a middle ground that managed to juggle melody with political ideals. Vengeance is still a righteously indignant slab of muscular, Ruts-style punk, Nineteen Eighty-Four as bleak and confrontational as the Thatcher era that produced it and debut single Bittersweet’s stripped-down instrumentation reminiscent of The Cure.
Justin Sullivan’s songwriting is strong throughout and more than anything Vengeance serves to remind that times of recession often produce great protest art.