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4.6 out of 5 stars22
4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 16 April 2012
Such was my excitement and anticipation for this release that I pre-ordered it when it was first announced quite a few months ago. I was particularly looking forward to having live versions of Wail of Sumer / And There Will Your Heart Be Also and Shine as well being able to hear a completed version of From The Fire. On receiving my CD / DVD set my anticipation was fed further by the enticing artwork of the outer sleeve and digipack inside. So far so good. First thing I did was to play the above mentioned tracks from the CD and it was at this point that my heart sank. Wail of Sumer / And There Will Your Heart Be Also is, for me, the best song that Fields of the Nephilim have recorded and I was hoping that this first live version to make it on to CD would add some new dimension to the track (I actually remember being blown away by this song when they previewed it on the "For Her Light tour") but was instead left feeling strangely underwhelmed. Over the years Carl's vocals have been the subject of many debates but to be honest I always felt they added to the character of the songs and, especially on the excellent Elizium album, were able to be both brutal and ethereal at the same time however on the recording in this CD / DVD there is nothing ethereal about the vocal at all. So maybe Shine would be better - Ok this track relies less on delicate vocal nuances but is still a song of light and shade, the vocal is less exposed on this track but again it just doesn't quite gell and that is, for the most part, the problem with this CD / DVD. I can't quite put my finger on it, Andy Jackson's recording of Earth Inferno shows that a Fields of the Nephilim live CD can sound just as good, if not better, than the studio recordings but Ceromonies just doesn't quite do it.

However, it's not all doom and gloom (except where it's supposed to be), there are some highlights on this recording: The version of From The Fire that appears here is far superior to the one that appeared in demo form on Fallen and leaves you wondering what that album would have sounded like if it had been completed. Similarly the live version of Mourning Sun is a real stormer and quite possibly better than the album version. There are, however, a number of continuity errors on the DVD (how many different guitars is it possible for the guitarists to use during From The Fire?) but I'll overlook these as the quality of the video is generally very good, very atmospheric and pretty much puts you right in the middle of the action.

So overall then? My expectations for this were very high, and rightly so as the previous live album - Earth Inferno was excellent and showed just what could be done, but as good as Ceromonies is (and actually it is really quite good in places) it's just not as good as I was hoping for and some of the songs just didn't work. Am I being harsh giving it only 3 stars? Probably but it just didn't quite live up to my expectations.
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Four years after the event, and the Fields Of The Nephilim return with a immaculately prepared and constructed live set : after the now 20 year old "Earth Inferno" album and "Visionary Heads" film, the band, whomever they are, and whatever they do, are long overdue a presentation fitting of their current incarnation. With three albums since the last live record, there's a lot of songs to hear.

In short, two CD's (and 2 hours) of music, and a hour long DVD, taken from two shows in London in July 2008, and "Ceromonies", The Fields Of The Nephilim present a new and fitting live experience. There's little repetition from the previous live set, with only "Psychonaut", "Moonchild" and "Preacher Man", and 17 songs not previously on any live record.

Visually, the DVD may only be an hour - but what an hour. The use of imagery, shots, angles, and staging is not that of a regular band, but something far more than that , evoking the kind of shamanistic, transcendary ethos that underpinned the bands work, where the guitars are some kind of portal to a different universe. This band, bearing only the singer from previous incarnations of the name, is undoubtedly an effective, ruthless machine. Gavin King peels out guitars left, right, centre, whilst Lee Newell on drums hits each note with precision. At points - on "Requiem" - the dense percussive wall of sound that was ruthlessly overdubbed may be a little thinner on stage - but the sound is still there, the intent and atmosphere conjured effectively.

Close your eyes, and it feels right. Just like being there.

After all, when the figures on stage are shrouded in smoke, when they are mere shilouettes in hats and the lights and sound are all you need know. It seems instantly familiar, and the actual names and / or faces of the players themselves are largely irrelevant. Some music is all about spirit and feeling, and transcend the identity of the player. The fact is, I don't know who most of the band backing Carl McCoy are, and I don't much care, because they are the Nephilim, who were always an idea instead of individuals. The spirit of the music lives through these musicians, and even though most of them on stage haven't played a note on any Nephilim record, there's no sense that these are a session band or backing musicians but a band - albeit one that performs music written by other people.

Over the course of two nights, this finely honed machine repeat just a handful of songs each night (surprisingly, one of these songs song is the live debut of "From The Fire", taken from the 2002 album "Fallen", which was released by a frustrated record company and violently disowned by the group at the time as worthless and unfinished). The first night sees the legendary "Psychonaut" and "Wail of Sumer/There Your Heart Will Be Also", which are the nearest thing Goth ever got to prog rock with ever longer, denser songs. The second night meanwhile, sees the group barely touch most recent album "Mourning Sun" in favour of long lost LP tracks from Thatcher's Eighties, and a couple of selections from 96's overlooked speed metal classic "Zoon". With so little repetition across the two shows, it's as if the band are determinedly trying to present an epic-length show spread over two nights with experiences that wildly differ. "Celebrate" is brought back to the public eye for the first time since about 1988, a ghost of a song, an echo, a stain, a memory of a song etched into an empty desolation. As the finale of a two night stand of undoubted historical significance for the band, being probably the apex of this incarnations concert career thus far, it rang more as an elegy than a celebration. The two CD's, each taken from a respective night, are in effect one concert spread over two nights, offering a comprehensive overview of the bands work, and their strength as a live act. Any doubts by the skecptical that this band do not deserve this name, or this material, is banished by the confident and powerful performance. This band may not have written some of these songs. But they own these songs. The evidence is here to see.
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on 27 July 2012
...but was instead left feeling strangely underwhelmed. I can see what you mean and at the same time again can't quite put my finger on it. I'm unsure if it's Carl McCoy's insistence that everything should be perfect and he should be at the centre of everything that gives less freedom to the other musicians. There are some good points; the drums are excellent and much higher up the mix unlike the studio releases. However, you feel at times they are playing to a set formula. Moonchild an example: I've always like the end `rocking bit' on the studio release which is totally missing live. Electronics have always played a part in Fields of Nephilim and the CD lists `Machine MkII' which may have restricted flexibility of the songs unlike using live keyboard player.

But it's not all bad... Ceromonies is still the best live Fields of the Nephilim release, it can still move, Preacher Man and especially Mourning Sun are The Nephilim at their best, crunchy guitars, booming bass, powerful drums and McCoy's guttural vocals. In my opinion have always been sidelined to bands like The Cure or Sisters of Mercy but no-one can't say the Nephilim have not had a major impact on the alternative scene.

The DVD is a nice extra - to be honest I very rarely play music DVD's as they are less transportable while travelling or driving. There are a few strange edit cuts but nothing major. Overall, the package is nicely presented and this is well worth getting. If there was a half star 4.5 out of 5.
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on 5 September 2013
This is one of the finest live recordings I've ever heard. Truly epic versions of already great songs, some even exceeding in quality of playing and atmosphere the original studio versions, which in view of the quality of the originals has to be a surprise at the least.

The selection covers the entire career of the Nephilim, with material from the early days as well as from the most recent studio record, the wonderful Mourning Sun. The DVD also has excellent sound and is truly exciting visually, drawing you in, as though you were there in person.

The packaging design is, as usual with Carl McCoy's work, excellent.

It remains a puzzle that Fields of the Nephilim are not massive, in view of the consistently high quality of their output from the very beginning until this, the most recent release.
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on 8 May 2013
I am a FOTN fan, but the reviews of this release have been mixed on Amazon. Anyway, I decided to download the album (very fast download as well via Amazon!) Having listened to disc 1, I am mightily impressed. The sound production is superb. Old favourites such as "Last exit for the Lost" sound almost like new songs! Is it better than "Earth Inferno"??? Possibly not, as that live album featured the original FOTN line-up, who were un-replaceable in my opinion. To sum up, at £7-50 for the mp3 download, this is the bargain of 2013 so far!!!
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on 24 May 2013
Yes live album. Form gothic rock band. Nephilim its great sound. The band are on top form. Great set list. its a gatefold sleeve. With photo of Carl McCoy in action. If you don`t like vinyl. There is a cd/dvd. Of the show. This is the best way to listen to. The Fields Of The Nephilim. LIVE!.
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on 21 January 2013
This live recording is atmospheric, powerful, ethereal and absolutely brilliant. The DVD that accompanies the 2 CD set is utterly spellbinding. Gothic rock doesn't get any better than this. Very highly recommended. Buy this at once - you won't be disappointed.
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on 27 December 2013
We Nephilim fans waited an age for this live DVD to be released and were surprised that the DVD was classed as a bonus to the album. Wail of Sumer & And There WIll Your Heart Be Also are stunning on this DVD.
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on 5 February 2013
All Nephililm heads must get this album and good price too. The only slight disappointment is that In the Year 2525 is not on his album, nor is Love Under Will or For Her Light. Still love it though
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on 15 July 2013
FotN are always inspiring and fantastic, and when they are live, what can I say.

Great double album to complete my collection. Thank you FotN for the last 30 years (and I'm only 38)
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