Fields of the Nephilim is the creation of vocalist and front man Carl McCoy, a seeker of the greater truth, who sprang from humble beginnings in south London. Brought up in a religious environment, Carl became familiar with the stories of the Watchers and Nephilim at a very early age. Unquestionably, this influenced his decision to pursue a creative career in art and music which embraced the world of the occult and portrayed the apocalyptic climate of the American Wild West, typified by Spaghetti Westerns such as those of Italian film director Sergio Leone.
Not only did America's discordant past inspire Fields of the Nephilim's emerging brand of dark aural delights - expressed in tracks such as "Trees come down", "Power:, "Preacher Man" and "Dawnrazor" - but it also helped define the band's unique appearance, both on and off stage. Wide-brimmed hats, long duster coats and cowboy boots, usually black and smothered in white flour as a substitute for dust, became its trade mark in a world where designer label clothes were fast becoming the street style of the era. Fields of the Nephilim's distinctive appearance, meant that they quickly became noticed by the music world, ensuring a growing fascination that enabled the band to achieve moderate success with their early singles and develop a loyal fan-base throughout Europe.
Little by little that success was built upon until the release in 1987 of their single "Blue Water", which with its chaotic video propelled it into the bottom reaches of the UK pop chart. This was followed in 1988 with the release of the band's seminal classic Moonchild, named after a magical novel by controversial English occultist Aleister Crowley. It rocketed into the charts at number 28, forcing TOP OF THE POPS to play its heavily-occult inspired video. It shocked the nation, but also helped propel Fields of the Nephilim into the realm of a major league rock band.
The sequel, Psychonaut, a title inspired by a magical grimoire by chaos magician Pete Carroll, was even more shocking. Although it received next to no national airplay in Britain (save for the concerted efforts of liberal Radio One DJ Annie Nightingale), it found its way into the charts at number 35, allowing a limited exposure to its mind-altering, Grainy video which featured a Sioux sundance ritual in which the candidate is hurled up into the air by claw-hooks affixed to his bare chest. Interspersed between its constantly shifting scenes, cut up in a style similar to news reels of the Edwardian era, were brief, almost subliminal flashes of war and destruction in the Middle East, as well as Christian religious images, which blended to express an apocalyptic vision of coming times.
Then there was the release of the band's uncompromising albums, including the awe-inspiring Elizium, released by Beggars Banquet in 1990. It remains arguably one of The Nephilim's most seminal soundscapes to date, invoking the energy of the Watchers and Nephilim and acknowledging them as the gods and demons of a mountain-like heaven towering above the Fertile Crescent, on which the civilisations of Sumer and Babylon evolved. Two highly evocative tracks, "For her light" and "Sumerland", appeared as singles, and each shared in chart success despite, once again, virtually no airplay on national radio.
Fields of the Nephilim's remarkable success story was aided perhaps by the manifestation among global youth culture during the late 1980s and early 1990s of all things black and gothic. Indeed, the band's deep, dusky music style became the soundtrack of their lives. The band's distinctive T-shirts and sweat shirts, adorned with occult-influenced designs, were virtually signs of recognition among many thousands of fans with a like mind. Furthermore, the Nephilim's evocative soundscapes unquestionably inspired several talented people in their own particular lines of interest.
Among those who might credit The Nephilim's music for their own creativity include Richard Stanley, the writer and producer of science fantasy films such as Hardware, which featured Carl McCoy's acting debut as the 'zone tripper'. Writers of graphics novels who have admitted listening to Nephilim music include Warren Ellis - the main character of his HELLSTORM stories, 'Daimon Hellstorm', being based directly on Carl's enigmatic persona, on and off stage. Other graphic novels such as FAUST, LOVE OF THE DAMNED and GUNFIGHTERS FROM HELL, all with artwork by Tim and Joe Vigil, as well as their 'Macabre Erotica Series', published by Rebel Studios, owe a debt to The Nephilim, as do some of the Watcher-inspired works by Storm Constantine. Her Grigori Trilogy (Grigori is Latin for Watchers) pays its respect to the music of The Nephilim.
In non-fiction, ancient mystery writer and psychic questing pioneer Andrew Collins acknowledges enveloping himself in The Nephilim's spectral soundscape during the writing of his scholarly work FROM THE ASHES OF ANGELS, published in 1996. It tells the story of the origins, history and latter-day influences of the Watchers and Nephilim of Enochian tradition. He concludes that they were flesh and blood beings who once walked the earth and initiated the Neolithic revolution that culminated with the creation of the world's first civilisations.
In the mid 1990s that which was Fields of the Nephilim underwent necessary transformations. With changes in the band's line-up - leaving Carl McCoy as its sole full time member - and a shortening of its name to, simply. 'The Nefilim', it now created an aural assault on the senses with the release in 1996 of its morphogenic offering entitled 'Zoon', a deep, dark industrial album tainted by the death metal genre of music. It was a statement of great intent, a transition, that enabled Carl to conquer oblivion, and pass beyond that world into the one that faces the band today.
To this day Fields of the Nephilim continue to create their uncompromising form of visual and aural art. And Alt-Fest is proud to serve as a premiere platform to experience their aural assault on the main stage!