on 8 January 2003
Back in 1988 chart music had for the most part descended into tiresome, predictable pap, & in the UK we had the added indignity of the appalling formularized singles of Stock, Aitken & Waterman clogging up the music charts - sending any thinking music fan (with a musical pulse) running for cover. It did indeed appear to be the year that the music died...
What an amazing surprise then this album was when it appeared later that year - a musical oasis in a barren desert. But who were The Nephilim? All I had seen was a photo of the band (& decided they looked really cool) & a live review in the press. But this was enough to convince me of their credentials, & to buy their CD - & I most certainly wasn't disappointed!
This was the music dreams (& beautiful nightmares) are made of. Not really heavy metal, but something completely new (to my ears)... an inspired re-invention.
From the slow instrumental build-up of the excellent opening track 'Endemoniada' into something much heavier (& those legendary emotive vocals of the god-like Carl McCoy) I knew I had stumbled onto something very special.
At last I felt someone was making the music that I wanted to listen to; music that spoke to me in grand gestures & had a dark intelligence... almost like a great arthouse movie.
We then hear the two awesome singles 'The Watchman' & 'Moonchild' (the latter which had briefly charted in the summer of 1988), & these, combined with 'Phobia' & the full-on live favourite 'Chord of Souls' concocted to make what must be one of the most thrilling sides (we're talking vinyl here) of a studio album, in my opinion, probably ever produced.
The mood slows a little on side 2 with the stripped-down 'Celebrate', but the atmospheric sound effects, chanting monks & women crying that precede the commericial 'Love Under Will' provide an eerie bridge.
'Last Exit For The Lost' is the grand elongated climax - & the song I want played at my funeral!
This album is a must for all discerning rock fans. Forget the (sometimes unhelpful) 'gothic' tag - this is just great, grand, heavy music from a band at the peak of their powers, & who should have gone on to conquer the universe.
A truly overlooked classic - if you've not heard it already, well, what are you waiting for! Come on over to the
darkside & join us, & see for yourself...
This, the second album by the Stevenage group, finds them experimenting with more atmospherics (samples from "In the Name of the Rose" can be heard throughout) and longer arrangements that would come to fruition on their brilliant third long player, Elizium. The album is really the first time that McCoy's belief system is brought out through the band. This again comes to fruition on their later recordings.
The album opens with "Endemoniada", the long slow intro building the tension before the band race off into a "none-more-Sisters" rocker. This is followed by the brilliant "The Watchman", one of the best songs they wrote. Paul Wright's signature picked guitar really makes this song. The musicianship within the band was criminally ignored, possibly because of their image and association with "Goth"...
"Moonchild", the single that actually cracked the Top 30 in the UK and put the band on the map for most people, still sounds as good now as it did 12 years ago. "Chord of Souls" always sounded better live than it does here - it kind of bounces along and only really gets going towards the end. "Shiva" was a B-side to the "Moonchild" single and should never have made it onto the album. It's a second rate instrumental with McCoy breathing and trying to sound mysterious. It's pretty cheesy and it lets the album down.
A much more open, laid back trio of songs closes the album. The brooding "Celebrate" sets the pace with a very stark arrangement (mainly just bass and vocals) that works realy well. "Love Under Will" is a good song with a storyline (about death, of course, tsk!). The final track, "Last Exit For The Lost" is a pure classic, from its opening bassline, and moody guitars right up to its up-tempo climax, it's 9 minutes 42 seconds of great songwriting. This song was a highlight of their live shows and is an outstanding album track. One of my favourites from this period.
Overall, the quality of the songs here far exceeded anything they had recorded up until that time. They were experimenting with every song, the atmospheric segues lending the album a very dark mood. It must have been an exciting time for the band. They had front covers of the music weeklies and they even had a top 30 hit single. Commercially, they were at their peak. Artistically, there was much better to come.
on 13 January 2004
I remember queuing up outside the old Top Rank in Southampton to watch the Mighty Neph on their 1988 'Watchman' tour, and the palpable sense of excitement still lingers. They were a special band going against the grain of tired old indie and pop pap that had taken a grip on British music at the time. This album is the sound of a group making music with little reference to their contemporaries -- it's as if they locked themselves away for a few years and simply did not listen to anything while putting it together. To watch them perform these songs live was an awesome experience but you get a good taste of the monumental sound of the Nephilim from these 9 songs. 'Endemoniada' lulls you into a wierd, dark faerieland -- full of atmospherics and barely contained nastiness. And the trip from thereon is something to relish. The three final songs link together with 'Name of the Rose' samples (including the Gregorian Chant scene) and are really quite unlike anything else you are ever likely to hear. There are so many layers to these pieces of music that you simply have to listen time and time again to properly experience them. But it is completely undated -- unlike so much of the 'Gothic' scene music from the 80s. This is probably because it was created 'out of time' and never attempted to fit in. Mc Coy said around 1988 that he'd been listening to nothing but string quartets, and it shows. Put this with the next album 'Elizium' and you have the most constructive, vital and important music of the period. Unimpeachable.
on 7 October 2008
It feels very strange but also very fitting that I am reviewing this album 20 years after I bought it as a 19 year old student in 1988. The Nephilim released in September 1988 was the band's second release and is one of those records that completely transcends the years, and today it is only the volume level on the production in comparison to modern CD's that gives away its age. After two decades it still sounds as fresh as the day I bought it, still has the same impact, hence is still listened to regularly. In original vinyl format this album could be viewed in two parts with the A side building from the long introduction of the superb Endemoniada and finishing with the thundering fury of the express train that is Chord of Souls with the excellent Watchman, pounding Phobia and the anthemic Moonchild in between. Side B takes an altogether more mellow feel to it with the almost acoustic and simple Celebrate, the brooding Love Under Will and epic Last Exit for the Lost. On CD these two "movements" are separated by the instrumental track Shiva (the B side to Moonchild) which is not a bad track but is really only a filler to bridge the movements which were the A and B sides of the record.
If you love truly great, original and individual rock music this is it and I guarantee you will not hear anything else like it. The songs and tunes are genius, the musicianship superb, the picked guitar riffs from Paul Wright inspired. Carl McCoy's vocal style fits perfectly with the ambience and general mood of the album and whether you understand his poetic lyrics based upon his beliefs and "interests" in religion and the occult or not it makes no difference, it all just fits together perfectly. It is only in later years and the advent of the internet that I have understood what he is trying to say adding more depth to my love of this album.
It is difficult to find anything more here that has not already been said in the other reviews on Amazon and I implore you to read all of them if you need convincing of peoples passion for this record. Truly an essential album - just buy it! Oh and then go and buy the rest of their back catalogue including the recent Mourning Sun.
Why people rate Elizium higher than this I will never know. I think those people must have got into The Nephilim late because this is their defining work. This is a truly remarkable album and, if you can get past the vocal style, I think fans of all genres will appreciate the music - including classical fans. I'll admit that the singing is an initial downpoint to outsiders but once you get used to it I find that it really fits the music and it's hard to imagine anything other than McCoy's vocals lacing the record. Stunning.
on 21 November 2006
I only heard this album two two years ago when I got it on tape but once I got into it I was utterly amazed by the sheer excellence of the musicianship and the song writing, it was like finding hidden tresure it was that good. Since then I have been obssessed with the band and have bought all their albums including the excellent 'Mourning Sun'. It has some very beautiful and evocative epics like 'Love Under Will' and the majestic climax of 'Last Exit For the Lost' that will leave you both spellbound and stunned. If you are into old and classic gothic bands like the Sisters, Joy Division, The Cure & The Mission, this will be truly worthy of your time and money.
on 15 June 2005
If you like rock, metal, goth, ambient or music with samples, you cannot go wrong with this album. With an atmospheric edge only a goth band can manage, intelligent use of samples and synths, and a varied yet coherent selection of songs, Fields of The Nephilim have produced an original and innovative album. Features their most famous song "Moonchild" which, despite (or because of) the band's image, managed to get to number 28 in the UK charts. Aslo includes the epic "Last Exit For The Lost", lulling you with slow, ambient guitars until the whole thing speeds up and rips you out of your seat.
on 11 December 2010
Simply put this album is a stunning achievement.
I never tire of listening to it. I think it is by far the Nephs' greatest work. Don't get me wrong the sounds that came before and after are also brilliant but as an album of coherent tracks it doesn't get much better than this. From the atmospheric start, through some brilliant rock, the sensual celebrate and then the finale that is their greatest song - Last Exit for the Lost. What an album to get yourself lost in.
My only criticism is the strange inclusion of Shiva which was an instrumental B-Side from an Alt 12" version of Moon Child. It was not on the original vinyl release and somehow feels oddly placed on the CD.
Still it doesn't detract from the CD as a whole. If you haven't given it a listen I can't recommend this CD highly enough.
on 21 September 2007
This album is one of the greatest ever made. The opening track Endemoniada is awesome, one of my favourite songs ever. Every song is a masterpiece, Moonchild, The Watchman, Chord Of Souls, Love Under Will and of course Endemoniada are particular highlights.
Your will never hear a more spooky, haunting and compelling album than this one. A truly goth must buy album.
on 15 August 2007
The fact that this album enjoyed only the modest success it did is a real indictment of the music-buying public's taste. If you are able to listen to Last Exit For The Lost without every hair on your body standing on end, you simply have no clue.
The strange thing is when I remember anything from this album I do so visually as much as aurally, that's how evocative these soundscapes are. An absolute classic and must buy for any serious rock fan.