LIVE 4 METAL
by Pete Woods
Oh how we have waited, how the flesh has yearned, but the time has finally come, a new golden dawn is upon us. The first official Fields Of The Nephilim album in a decade has arrived. Forget the unofficial Fallen release, this was a collection of old material put upon us by a record company who knew we would not be able to resist. Forget N.F.D. who as much as we enjoyed them, were no more than wolves in sheep's clothing, this is the real McCoy (and yes I deserve shooting for that one).
I do not really know what it is about the arcane practitioners of this sort of music but Jaz Coleman (Killing Joke) took a long term journey of discovery and disappeared, allegedly to Iceland to rediscover himself and the shadowy figure of Carl McCoy stepped outside himself and pretty much did the same. Where he went, nobody really knows but you have to admit it adds an air of mystery to things. The one time he really did surface was to provide the voice of the demon in the 2000 movie The 13th Sign. I actually caught the premier of this at the Frightfest and rumours of McCoy's attendance proved to be unfounded despite a buzz of expectation from the audience.
And lo it has taken him a full half a decade to finally reveal himself with new album Mourning Sun appearing on the surprisingly metal label of SPV. If you are thinking this is going to be a continuation of the themes explored on 1996 Nefilim released Zoon you are going to be disappointed. This is not the industrial metal follow up to an album that really did take us all by surprise.
To be fair, Mourning Sun really does strike me as the natural evolution to Elyzium (as it was so shall it be) and to me 15 years down the line I really couldn't have asked for anything better. This is the album that all hardcore fans of FOTN (myself included) have been waiting for and I am sure that there were many who held this in their hands and took a very nervous deep breath before playing it the first time, praying to the Preacher Man who takes us all into the last caress, that this would deliver the goods. I was even more worried than some having had a press release at my disposal and reading that the album was written in total isolation (no surprise there) and there are only "ghost musicians", whom Carl will not divulge their names upon us, present on this recording. I need not have worried as I finally undertook what was like a voyage of discovery and played this for the first time.
Shroud (Exordium) acts like a long atmospheric intro. Monks chant and ethereal icy chords ebb and flow with the voice of the beast sounding to rise from the depths. The romantic within me summons up visions of H.P. Lovecraft as this unfolds on grandiose guitar chords like The Call Of Cthulhu. That voice sinister as ever begins to break through and the jagged gunslinging guitars of old make their presence felt, who these Western heroes are, may not be mentioned but they very much sound like the ones of old ready to dust those flour laden long-coats off and take up arms once more.
If there were to be a single (which there is not) it would be Straight To The Light, this is the Preacher Man, the Blue Water, the Laura of the album, the track that cranks into gear with that robotic bass (remember Hardware) and finally has McCoy singing with gruff apocalyptic tones. Tis all a build up to the chorus which takes you off into a stomping glory only to graciously slow it all down with the biblical entreaty that is, "we served this world like angels". It is intoned that "the sky is burning" and one feels that it is, as heaven looks down and weeps tears of crimson blood. New Gold Dawn is a slow burner and one that creeps up with clean vocals before powerfully bouncing into action the likes of which will see mayhem on the dance floor when the live dates (that have been promised) happen. If you have been waiting for a real explosion it comes on Xiberia (Seasons In The Ice Cage) a track that bristles and crackles like expanding ice caps cracking and showers the listener in a welter of shards when it bursts. This is a real attack and the vocals roar here with wild savagery whilst the instrumentation pulses away with a futuristic discharge.
There may only be 7 tracks but they are all long and thoroughly involving, none so more than the epic ten minute tour de force of title track Mourning Sun at the end of the album. Starting with a lullaby sort of choral and one that almost reminds of an Ennio Morricone Giallo score, we are virtually entranced by the melody, which is softly comforting but feels as though it has danger lurking round the corner. This is a Mourning Sun, which never turns quite black though, nothing eclipses the light which shines down with an uplifting denouement and leaves one feeling surprisingly cheerful and full of hope and journeys end.
The limited version of this comes with In The Year 2525, which I can only assume is a cover of the Zaeger & Evans classic already visited by Visage and Laibach.
Did I like the CD? Well, I think the review more than speaks for itself and I am on the edge of my seat waiting for the concert dates.
If I get half as much enjoyment out of this album as I did Elyzium (one of my top 10 albums ever) I will be a very happy person and it certainly looks like Mourning Sun is heading that way.