THE NEFILIM -- CARL IS BACK
By Thomas Guntermann
Hardly has an event caught the attention of more fans at one time than the split of the Fields Of The Nephilim. The band reached a kind of milestone in their recording career with Elizium. Then the internal quarrels and disputes which had bubbled under the surface for a long time grew louder until they proved irreconcilable.
Now with the Zillo Festival in December, Carl McCoy will break his musical silence.
Cody's is an attractive little restaurant situated right in the heart of Stevenage new town's shopping centre. The ceiling fans and comfortable Hawaiian style wicker chairs are typically English as is the brown water that they serve here as coffee.
Carl's manager, Steve, who drove me from Heathrow airport to this idyllic place, makes a phone call, and in just a few minutes, Carl McCoy arrives; the man whose comeback has been anxiously awaited, especially in Germany. His handshake is loose, his greeting curt. Carl McCoy is a man of few words. Nobody is in danger of burning in his vanity. And no-one at the table can understand the excitement on his return less than he who has just arrived. However, he takes the thing seriously, perhaps even too seriously.
"You can't compare me with Andrew Eldritch," he says. "I'm no pop star." He sips his beer and looks deep to the bottom of his glass.
"There's hardly been any time to be interviewed in the last two years. I've had lots to do, get a band together and make an album, which is now almost finished."
He has already titled the album to follow Elizium, 'Visions'. To realise these visions Carl parted company with the Fields, so that the band slowly died. At first, he stopped going to regular rehearsals, and finally just called it a day.
"I wanted to make an album of contrasts. I hate mediocrity. I love extremes. So I've made this album. It's got some very melodic and atmospheric tracks. But it's also got some very hard songs."
There are rumours going around associating Carl with the German death-metal band, Morgoth. It's said his music has a lot in common with Morgoth's; that he is friends with them, that they have played together on several tracks and that Carl will record several tracks for them as guest lead vocalist. However, there is no truth in these rumours. The truth is that, some time ago, as Carl was experiencing difficulties in finding a suitable drummer in England, the Morgoth drummer guested on several Nefilim tracks for Carl. However, this arrangement ended once Carl found a drummer in England.
Since then the Nefilim have consisted of Carl (vocals), Cian (bass), Paul (guitar), Simon (drums) and slim (guitar). The surnames of the other band members remains a mystery. This group have yielded the new Nefilim sound, with the 'old' Carl McCoy kept as figurehead. But musically as far from the past towards the future.
"For me the most important thing is to make this album. It's all that counts. I want to have a modern-sounding album, not a heavy metal one. I hate heavy metal bands. Cheesy rock music. Awful. I hate Iron Maiden; it' just technique in action."
An hour later, we are sitting in Carl's brother's apartment for tea. Carl has brought a few recordings to play for the occasion, and explains the individual tracks. By links, which serve to join the samples he has brought, we recognised the connections with Elizium.
From then on, how could we listen to the new music that Carl let fly through this friendly place? At this point we struggle again with that tricky phrase from good old Rodney Orpheus (Cassandra Complex), where he said that all music can be described the same way - from architecture to dancing.
It's possible to try. The four extracts we listen to, on an overcast afternoon in Stevenage, show the potential of the Fields. Typically Carl on one hand, with calculated intros of epic detail, then the start of the blood-curdling low speech-sound, but strangely hard, quick and energetic on the other. If you listen to fields records (particularly the later material), they always seemed to be recording in slow motion, and behind a pane of glass. Now you have the feeling that everyone has removed their earplugs and taken off the hand brake.
Produced and mixed by various producers, including Andy Jackson and in various studios, scattered here and here, Carl has brought the band as near as possible to his dream. For the first time, Carl has fulfilled many of his ideas.