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 Whisker, Tony Pettitt on bass, guitarist Paul Wright and drummer Alexander "Nod" Wright. Following the release of the debut EP Burning the Fields, Whisker left the band to be replaced by Peter Yates as second guitarist. 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. The current incarnation of the band has released one authorized recording of new material since 1990 and performs infrequently.
Fields of the Nephilim's initial sound incorporated elements of hard rock, gothic rock, 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. 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.
Frontman McCoy left the band in 1991, amid rumours that he had fallen out with the rest of the band over future direction, and counter-rumours that it was a feign in the hope they could get out of their recording contract owing to disagreements over back royalty payments. The remaining members, together with singer Andy Delaney, did not continue to use 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 version of the group called Nefilim with 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.
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 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 under 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.
In 2002, Jungle Records and Metropolis Records released the first Fields of the Nephilim studio album since Elizium, entitled Fallen. McCoy publicly disassociated himself from the album, claiming that the record label had acted without his direct consent in issuing unfinished works, when the label allegedly breached the terms of his recording contract. Subsequently, Jungle have issued further unauthorised works.
Following the single release, Fields of the Nephilim (now featuring former Nefilim members Rippin and Miles) played their first live shows in nine years, appearing at Woodstage, Eurorock, Roskilde and M'era Luna music festivals.
The following year, Pettitt was hired as a session player for NFD, after yet another fall out with McCoy. Two new Nephilim demo tracks were leaked to the internet, allegedly by McCoy himself. The tracks were entitled "Dead to the World - The Way That We Were - Thirst" and "Sensorium / Subsanity".
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' "In the Year 2525" included as a bonus track on the first 5000 copies.
In interviews following the release of the current album Mourning Sun, McCoy claimed to have been using session musicians, whom he referred to as "ghost musicians" although only John 'Capachino' Carter is credited as bassist, drummer and guitarist. Carter had previously worked with McCoy at the outset of Nefilim on such tracks as "Red777", "Chaocracy" and "Zoon".
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. The band was made up of new musicians including Gizz Butt, a former live guitarist for The Prodigy. 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, there has so far been no confirmation as to if or when this video will ever be released.
Since this concert, McCoy has performed several times under the name Fields of the Nephilim at venues and festivals across Europe, with a changing roster of musicians. Highlights of this period included the headline slot at the 2008 M'era Luna Festival, where the band headlined in front of 23,000 people.
In June 2008, a DVD entitled Live in Düsseldorf 1991 was released.
EMI have announced that the live DVD and double album Ceromonies will be released in 2012, consisting of recordings and footage from the two-night event held at London's Shepherd's Bush Empire in 2008.
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.
John Carter is currently gigging & recording a debut album of brand new material under the name 'XII'.
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 regularly debunked the band's baleful and dramatic image. Nod was portrayed as an earnest and incurably naive figure, perpetually eager to please Carl McCoy (who was himself presented as a brooding, pretentious, egomaniacal martinet obsessed with mythology and apparently unable to distinguish between image and reality).
Nod Wright appeared to take the spoof graciously (perhaps recognising that it helped to maintain the band's profile with both press and broader public). At one point, he took advantage of the affection and recognition generated by the spoofs in order to gain an interview of his own in Melody Maker, in which he was treated more seriously and was given due credit for his integral contribution to the band's music.
|Year||Title||UK Indie Chart||UK Albums Chart|
|Apr||1991||Earth Inferno (live)||#39|
|Oct||1996||Zoon (as Nefilim)||#39|
|Year||Title||UK Indie Chart||UK Singles Chart|
|Jul||1987||"Burning the Fields (EP)"||#2|
|Jul||1990||"For Her Light"||#54|
|May||2000||"One More Nightmare (Trees Come Down A.D.)"|
|Sep||2002||"From the Fire"||#62|