Release date 25 NOVEMBER 2013
Mastering notes – The only album in this set to have been fully re-mastered from the analogue tapes is Elysium. Due to the limited budget (and in some cases non availability of analogue) the other albums / tracks have been mastered from digital sources.
Of all the bands involved in Britain’s goth rock movement of the 1980s, Fields of the Nephilim were the most believable. The group’s cryptic, occult-inspired songs were sung in a guttural roar by vocalist Carl McCoy. Live appearances were shrouded with dim light and smoke machines, while band members stalked the stage in black desperado gear inspired by western dress. The group was also one of the longest lived of the original goth rock groups, finally breaking up in 1991 when McCoy left for another project.
Fields of the Nephilim formed in 1984, played many live shows and released the EP Burning the Fields. Beggar’s Banquet, also the home of goth rockers Southern Death Cult and Bauhaus, signed the Nephilim and released the singles “Power” and “Preacher Man” in 1986. Both did well on the independent charts; “Preacher Man” made it to number two, increasing the expectation for debut album Dawnrazor, which appeared in 1987. The album also did well on the indie charts, but later that year Fields of the Nephilim finally cracked the pop singles chart with “Blue Water.” In June 1988, second album The Nephilim reached number 12 in the pop charts, while the single “Moonchild” made number 28. A live video titled Forever Remain was also released in 1988.
The May 1989 single “Psychonaut” also cracked the Top 40, but the resulting Elizium (1990) proved to be the group’s last studio effort. The live double album Earth Inferno was also released in 1990, and the singles “For Her Light” and “Sumerland (Dreamed)” both charted, but Carl McCoy left the band — and took the name with him — in October 1991.
Biography by John Bush ALL MUSIC GUIDE
Losing the saxophone player from earlier EPs and taking advantage of better budgets and studios, the Nephilim on their first full album established themselves as serious contenders in the goth world. The Nephilim weren’t aiming just for the clad-in-black audience, but at being a great group in general; while that goal wasn’t quite achieved on Dawnrazor, the band came very close. With sympathetic and evocative production throughout by Bill Buchanan, the album strongly showcases another chief element of the Nephilim’s sound: Ennio Morricone. The at-the-time totally outrageous fusion of smoky, cinematic spaghetti western guitars with the doom-wracked ominous flavour of the music in general, not to mention McCoy’s growled invocations of pagan ceremonies and mystic energy, provoked a lot of merriment from outside observers. the Nephilim stuck to their guns, though, and by wisely never cracking a smile on this album, they avoided the cheap ironic way out. Songs here which would become classics in the band’s repertoire included the fiery “Preacher Man,” which sounds like what would happen if Sergio Leone filmed a Stephen King story; the quick, dark gallop of “Power” (originally a separate single, then added to the album on later pressings); and the slow, powerful build of the title track, featuring McCoy practically calling the demons down on his head.
Intro (The Harmonica Man)
Volcane (Mr. Jealousy Has returned)
Vet For The Insane
Having built a considerable and passionate fan base, the Nephilim approached their second album with confidence and a clutch of stunning new songs. The resulting, semi-self-titled release blows away the first by a mile (the art design alone, depicting an ancient, worn book with strange symbols, is a winner), being an elegantly produced and played monster of dark, powerful rock. Even if McCoy’s cries and husked whispers don’t appeal to all, once the listener gets past that to the music, the band simply goes off, incorporating their various influences — especially a good dollop of pre-Dark Side of the Moon Pink Floyd (think songs like “One of These Days”) — to create a massive blast of a record. Buchanan again produces with a careful ear for maximum impact, whether it be the roaring rage of “Chord of Souls” or the minimal guitar and slight keyboard wash of “Celebrate”; McCoy’s vocal on the latter is especially fine as a careful, calm brood that matches the music. Perhaps most surprising about the album is that it yielded an honest-to-goodness U.K. Top 40 hit with “Moonchild,” which is very much in the vein of earlier songs like “Preacher Man” but with just enough of a catchier chorus and softer guitar part in the verse to make a wider mark. Though the first part of the album is quite fine, including such longtime fan favourites as “The Watchman” and “Phobia,” after “Moonchild” the record simply doesn’t let up, building to a fantastic three-song conclusion. “Celebrate” is followed by “Love Under Will,” a windswept, gloomily romantic number with a lovely combination of the band’s regular push and extra keyboards for effect. “Last Exit for the Lost” wraps everything up on an astonishing high; starting off softly with just bass, synths, one guitar, and McCoy, it then gently speeds up more and more, pumping up the volume and finally turning into a momentous, unstoppable tidal wave of electric energy.
Chord Of Souls
Love Under Will
Last Exit For The Lost
Celebrate (Second Seal)
For the first time since Dawnrazor, the Nephilim worked with someone other than Bill Buchanan as producer; whatever Andy Jackson’s particular qualifications, happily he knew not to ruin a good thing. The end result was the band’s best all-around album, consisting of four lengthy pieces that showcase their now near-peerless abilities to create involved, textured, driving, and loud pieces of rock. It was still goth as all heck, but like the best bands in any genre, the Nephilim transcended such artificial limitations to create their own sound. McCoy still comes up with an occasionally curious lyric, to put it mildly, but such is the power of his performance as well as the band’s that, at least for the time it’s playing, Elizium really does sound like it’s about to call up darkling spirits from the nether planes. The opening song is divided into four parts but mainly known by its second, “For Her Light,” which was edited into a single. It moves from initial crashes of noise, feedback, and keyboards to catchier brooding and riff action, a calmer midsection with appropriate samples of Alistair Crowley, and a last slamming run to the song’s conclusion. “Submission” stands on its own, switching between minimal bass with guitar stabs and massive crescendos. “Sumerland (What Dreams May Come)” takes the apocalyptic element of the Nephilim to its furthest extent; its relentless pulse supports some of the most powerful guitar out there while McCoy achieves a similar high point with his commanding voice. “Wail of Sumer” concludes Elizium on a striking two-part note, gently floating rather than exploding over its length, while McCoy’s lost, regretful voice drifts along with it as a soft, yet still unnerving conclusion. Combine that with another fantastic job on art design, and Elizium, once you accept the Nephilim’s basic conceits, simply stuns.
(Dead But Dreaming)
For Her Light
At The Gates Of Silent Memory
Sumerland (What Dreams May Come)
Wail Of Sumer
And There Will Your Heart Be Also
Psychonaut (Lib III)
Submission Two (The Dub Posture)
Sumerland (Single Version)
One reason the Fields of the Nephilim were so successful at what they did was their live performance sense. If McCoy especially wasn’t really believing he was carrying out religious rites from a long-dead mystic past, then he sure knew how to put on a convincing act, while the remaining four gave no quarter, turning the sometimes subtler edges of their studio work into full-on attack. Call it heavy metal by any other standard — it was loud enough to be just that, but instead of wannabe-blues wankery or Metallithrash, everything was suffused in the band’s unique, doom-laden combination of earlier goth, Morricone, and aggressive prog, with the amps cranked to ten. Inferno, the Nephilim’s final official release before their late 1991 breakup, captures songs from three separate 1990 shows, artfully combined in one powerful document. If the band never exactly performed a full set like this, then they definitely should have. Including three of the four main Elizium numbers in full versions — “For Her Light,” “Submission,” and “Sumerland” — Inferno also draws upon established past hits as “Preacher Man,” “Moonchild,” and “Psychonaut,” plus album cuts “Love Under Will,” “Last Exit for the Lost,” and the concluding “Dawnrazor,” made even more majestic and commanding than the studio version, if that’s possible. Generally little is changed in the actual arrangements of the songs for the live venue — “Psychonaut” has a mostly full-band performance throughout, while slight alterations are also done for “Sumerland.” In terms of fire and force, though, these takes can be considered definitive through and through. McCoy’s wracked vocals are that of a man possessed, Nod Wright’s huge drumming doesn’t let up, Paul Wright and Yates’ guitars know when to hold back and when to completely let loose, and Pettitt’s bass provides the moody undertow for it all.
Intro (Dead But Dreaming) For Her light At The Gates Of Silent Memory (Paradise Regained)
Love Under Will
Last Exit For The Lost
SINGLES & MIXES
Collected together in this package, some for the first time on a digital format, are all the mixes from the singles (due to time constraints some appear as bonus tracks on the original CDs).
Preacher Man (Contaminated mix)
Blue Water (Electrostatic)
Moonchild (Second Seal)
Psychonaut (Lib I)
For Her Light (Two)
Submission (Non Resistance)
Sumerland (Dreamed Version)
In Every Dream Home A Heartache
Blue Water (Hotwire)
(Dead But Dreaming) For Her Light
Psychonaut (Lib II)
Psychonaut (Lib IIII)
all notes edited from reviews by Ned Raggett ALL MUSIC GUIDE