“Ask most bands where they’d like to record their next album,” says New Model Army frontman Justin Sullivan, “and they’d say somewhere like New York, because that’s where it all happens, or perhaps some Caribbean island. Ask the same question to the five members of New Model Army and they’d all say somewhere cold, bleak and hard.”

And he’s not talking about Yorkshire, although the band are forever based in Bradford and have their rehearsal room in a converted mill on Thornton Road. New Model Army’s 17th studio album, launched next Friday, comes from somewhere quite different – a recording studio more or less on the edge of the world on a tiny island off the north-west coast of Norway. The band recorded From Here at Ocean Sound Recordings on the little-known island of Giske, half way between Bergen and Trondheim, where the backdrop when they visited in March this year was harsh mountains, snow-bound beaches and ice-cold sea.

On the outside the studio looks like a boathouse but inside is state of the art equipment. And, while many recording studios are sealed rooms with no outlook, here there are big windows where musicians can take inspiration from the crashing waves, rockscapes and all the moods of the sky.

The idea of going to Giske came from their producers, Lee Smith and Jamie Lockhart from Greenmount Studios in Armley, Leeds, where the band made their previous album, Winter.

“Once they showed us pictures of the place, we really couldn’t go anywhere else,” says Justin. “And they persuaded us to leave a lot of the detail of the music to the spontaneity of the moment and let the place do its magic.”

The songs were, it’s true to say, largely written in Bradford but they were left deliberately bare to draw on the surroundings in Norway. And it’s fair to say they did. The mood of the album is rugged and unforgiving, just like the view through the windows. Musically it is deeper, darker and not as immediately accessible as Winter but all the elements of New Model Army are here – intensity, pounding drums, loud bass and quirky guitar hooks. Lyrically, Justin continues his long-running battle with the shallowness and frailty of modern humanity.

It would maybe be a surprising choice of record to put on at a children’s birthday party but it’s probably just what the band’s huge army of loyal fans want to hear. There is a certain romance in bleakness and New Model Army are masters at capturing it. Themes explored in From Here include coming catastrophe, the transience of existence, whether to confront your past or run away from it, the futile obsession with change and the beauty of simplicity. Stand-out tracks include the trademark End of Days, The Weather and Never Arriving, the latter already released as a website teaser backed by a video shot in the Yorkshire Dales. Neatly changing the mood half way through the album, on the other hand, is the instantly catchy Where I Am, which Justin describes as “a happy song."

Making the album has been fast paced, from the round-the-clock sessions in Bradford where Justin, bass player Ceri Monger and drummer Michael Dean laid down the basic rhythms with guitarist Marshall Gill and keyboard player Dean White adding layers of musical ideas, to the nine-day recording sprint in Norway to the final mixing at Greenmount Studios in the basement of an old church.

Justin says it was necessarily concentrated. “We were very aware that next year is our 40th anniversary, so if we were going to do another album it had to be both done and toured this year.”

He’s also happy to reveal a few private nuggets from the recording sessions. While most of the band took a plane from Leeds-Bradford Airport to get there, Justin and Lee drew short straws and spent three days driving the band’s gear round at least three sides of a square to Norway. And although some of the band snatched a short day’s sight-seeing, Justin himself hardly left the studio. Dean did the cooking. They did see the Northern Lights. And Justin can vouch that the sea really was ice-cold because on their last day the band threw themselves into it.

The last revelation is surprising. We are talking about March on the borders of the Arctic, after all. You feel like suggesting that next time they should do their recording on some Caribbean island.

* New Model Army play Leeds University Stylus on Saturday, November 16.