Fields of the Nephilim
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Fields of the Nephilim are an English gothic rock band formed in Stevenage, Hertfordshire, England in 1984. The original line-up consisted of vocalist Carl McCoy, saxophonist Gary Wisker, Tony Pettitt on bass, guitarist Paul Wright and drummer Alexander "Nod" Wright. After the release of the debut EP Burning the Fields, Wisker left the band to be replaced by Peter Yates as second guitarist to what is widely known as the 'Classic' line-up. The current incarnation of the band has released one authorized recording of new material and one double live album since 1990, but the group perform frequently, with Carl McCoy and Tony Pettit remaining from the original lineup.
The band's name refers to a Biblical race of giants or angel-human hybrids, known as the Nephilim. Although they have not received substantial mainstream success, the band's seminal sound has proved highly influential, especially in the genre of gothic rock.
Early years (1984-91):
Fields of the Nephilim's initial sound incorporated elements of hard rock, gothic rock, heavy metal and psychedelic rock, and comprised a bass and guitar driven sound underpinned by McCoy's growled vocals. Lyrically, the band incorporated magical themes, referencing the Cthulhu Mythos, the Sumerian religion, Chaos magic and the works of Aleister Crowley.
The band had a "dust and death" image, associated with characters from Sergio Leone's Spaghetti Westerns and often wore cowboy dusters with a weather-beaten look during photoshoots. This weather-beaten look was attained by dusting themselves down with, by their own admission, Mother's Pride flour. Their debut EP, Burning the Fields, was released in 1985 by Situation Two records (an imprint of Beggars Banquet Records). The band "upgraded" to Beggars Banquet in 1986 to release "Power" and "Preacher Man", and their first album, Dawnrazor. The next release, "Blue Water", was the first Fields of the Nephilim single to reach the UK charts (#75). It was followed by "Moonchild", lead single from the second LP The Nephilim which reached number 28 in the UK charts.
Psychonaut was released in May 1989 and peaked at number 35; this ten-minute track indicated a slight shift for the band toward a more experimental and intense sound. This single/EP was a candle-bearer for the polished and highly produced Elizium album (1990). Produced by Pink Floyd / David Gilmour engineer Andy Jackson (taking over from previous band producer Bill Buchanan), the album was preceded by the single "For Her Light", which clipped the British Top 40 in its first week of release. A remixed version of "Sumerland (Dreamed)", released in November 1990, peaked at number 37.
In 1991, the band played their final gigs, a two-day 'Festival of Fire' in London. The final releases of this era are the live CD Earth Inferno and video Visionary Heads, followed by the compilation Revelations.
Departure of McCoy and hiatus (1991-98):
Frontman McCoy left the band in 1991. The remaining members, together with singer Andy Delaney, chose not to continue with the "Fields of the Nephilim" name and recorded instead under the name Rubicon. The band released two albums before disbanding: What Starts, Ends in 1992 and Room 101 in 1995.
Meanwhile, McCoy formed a new group called Nefilim recruiting guitarist Paul Miles, drummer Simon Rippin and bassist Cian Houchin. The band played some gigs in 1993, showcasing some of their new material. According to McCoy, the release of their debut album, Zoon, was held back for several years due to disagreements with the record label. Zoon was eventually released in 1996 and featured a distinctly heavier sound than McCoy's previous works.
Reunion and new album (1998-2002):
On 15 August 1998, McCoy and Pettitt held a press conference at the Zillo Festival in Germany, announcing their future plans to collaborate under two separate monikers, Fields of the Nephilim (along with the Wright brothers) and The Nephilim (an altered spelling of McCoy's solo project).
According to different original band members, the band was rehearsing and writing the next Fields of the Nephilim album (with the exception of Yates). However, the awaited reunion of the original band line up never happened.
In May 2000, McCoy released "One More Nightmare (Trees Come Down)", the first Fields of the Nephilim single with their new label, Jungle Records. It contained newly worked versions of "Trees Come Down" and "Darkcell," both originally released on the Burning the Fields EP in 1984. Between June and August 2000, the band made four live appearances at European festivals, (now featuring former Nefilim members Rippin and Miles), appearing at Woodstage, Eurorock, Roskilde and M'era Luna music festivals.
In 2002, Jungle Records and Metropolis Records released the first Fields of the Nephilim studio album since Elizium, entitled Fallen. The release was not authorised by the band, and consists of unfinished recordings from 1997-2001, the 2000 reworkings of "Trees Come Down" and "Darkcell", and a previously unreleased demo by The Nefilim. The release was disowned by the band for many years, and only one song from it, "From The Fire," has been performed live.
Mourning Sun and Ceromonies 2008:
Fifteen years after Elizium, McCoy released Mourning Sun, his fourth full-length studio album under the name Fields of the Nephilim. The album had seven original songs, with a cover version of Zager and Evans's "In the Year 2525" included as a bonus track on the first 5000 copies.
In interviews following the release of the album Mourning Sun, McCoy mentions collaborating other musicians but only John "Capachino" Carter is officially credited on the album.
In 2006, some European venues announced a tour was to take place, although this was never officially confirmed by the band. In spite of high ticket sales, none of the gigs occurred. Through the band's official website, McCoy took pains to emphasize that he had at no time confirmed these dates with promoters or venues, and reiterated to fans that nobody should buy tickets for such events until they had heard official announcements through the band's website that such live performances were to go ahead.
In May 2007, McCoy performed as Fields of the Nephilim for the first time in seven years, at the London Astoria with Gavin King on bass, Lee Newell on drums, and Gizz Butt and Steve Fox-Harris on guitars. According to the band's website, the event was filmed by video director Richard Stanley, who had directed videos for the original band's singles: however, it now unlikely as the footage was superseded by the "Ceromonies" concert recording.
Since this concert, McCoy has performed approximately 50 times under the name Fields of the Nephilim at venues and festivals across Europe, with a changing roster of musicians around a core of King (since on guitar) and Newell (on drums). Highlights of this period included the band's biggest headline show to date at the 2008 M'era Luna Festival, where the 'Ceromonies' line-up performed in front of over 23,000 people.
In June 2008, a DVD entitled Live in Düsseldorf 1991 was released.
Sacred Symphony released the DVD & Double CD box set as well as a double LP vinyl version of Ceromonies (Ad Mortem Ad Vitam) on 16 April 2012, consisting of recordings and footage from the two-night event held at London's Shepherd's Bush Empire in 2008. The vinyl version does not come with the live DVD. It was also released as a Collectible box set coming in a wooden box with the Ceromonies logo and title branded on the wooden lid.
Tony Pettit rejoined the band in 2013 and has performed on stage as the band's bass player since then. The line-up is now completed by second guitarist Andy James, who previously played with Newell in Sacred Mother Tongue.
The Darkness Before Dawn:
On 1 July 2014, Carl McCoy announced that the band was back in the studio "...recording and compiling the most important elements created and gathered." In December 2014, the band debuted two new songs live onstage, "Earthbound" and "Prophecy." The release date for any new material is unknown.
In 2001, Nod and Paul Wright formed a new band, Last Rites: this band released two full-length albums, Guided by Light (2001) and The Many Forms (2005).
Pettitt and guitarist Stephen Carey are currently recording and performing as The Eden House, a musical collective with a changing line-up of artists including Julianne Regan, Monica Richards, Bob Loveday (violinist in Bob Geldof's band), and Andy Jackson. Pettitt is also a member of NFD.
John 'Capachino' Carter recorded a one-off album called 'Moving In the Shadows' under the band name XII - released 1/1/2015.
Cian Houchin has performed and recorded albums as the frontman for Saints of Eden.
Paul Chousmer toured with the Circus Archaos show Metal Clown (1991-92). He subsequently formed the bands Another Green World and Zuvuya. Chousmer currently records and performs with Astralasia and Spanner Jazz Punks.
Fields of the Nephilim inspired a number of other bands, including Sólstafir, Watain and Katatonia.
From 1988, during the band's period of mainstream attention following the release of Dawnrazor and Psychonaut, the British music newspaper Melody Maker began to run various spoof articles about the band. This culminated in a regular feature called The Nod Corner which purported to be written by Nephilim drummer Nod Wright and which took a satirical view on the band's baleful and dramatic image. Nod Wright appeared to take the spoof graciously.