by Paul Hart & Paula O'Keefe

Even upon casual observation of the sights and sound emanating from the band, Fields Of The Nephilim, one gets the sense that something deeply layered and ominous is rumbling beneath the surface. The images and messages being transmitted by the group reek of a cryptic 'otherworldliness' that seems unfamiliar to us at face value , yet rings a resonant chord deep within our subconciousness - dare I say soul. It's as if we have a common subconscious heritage as a species based on a common evolutionary lineage that extends back thousands of generations, and somehow, the Nephilim have tapped into that line with what they say to us.

"As a species, we necessarily have a species consciousness," explains the mysterious stranger in a broad-rimmed hat. "Our ancestries have a common origin, and nothing from that origin can be completely wiped out merely with time. Even in mankind's widely varying religions, there's a similarity in belief systems. The Christ story of a saviour being sacrificed for the sins of others was repeated a thousand times, a thousand different ways, in a thousand different religions - and thousands of years before Christianity."

The stranger removes his hat, revealing wolf-like, bright-blue eyes. "Man has always found comfort in the belief that through death, he can release his soul and somehow find salvation.," he explains. "It's almost seen as a desirable thing - from Hinduism to Buddhism to the ancient Mayas and Celts. Why does this commonality of ideas exist?"

To even understand the question, muchless answer it, one has to understand what the Nephilim is all about. And to understand what the Nephilim is all about, there is only one source to reference - the man behind the hat - Carl McCoy, lead vocalist/lyricist/guiding light of one of the more metaphysical musical entities around today. There is a definite air of mysticism surrounding him. Even the origin of the name of his band is steeped in his keen interest for things beyond the strictly material.

"I was exposed a great deal to the Bible when growing up because my mother was devoutly religious," he says. "She took pains to instil in me a sense of which characters in the Bible were good and which were bad. Genesis briefly mentions the race of giants called the Nephilim (the product of fallen angels and mortal women). Even though they are mentioned only like once, she kept harping on how evil they were, and that I should never talk or even think about them. Well, you know what happens when you tell a kid not to even think about something! Obviously her plan back-fired, and having always had a tendency to be more interest in evil than good anyway, I began searching for more information on the Nephilim. It brought me to a series of books called the Apocrypha and Jubilees - chapters of the original Bible that were taken out for various reasons. That opened up a whole new can of worms for me." And those worms have been eating away at his gray matter ever since.

Carl McCoy's interest in mysticism pervades almost everything the Nephilim produces - from the three LPs - Dawnrazor, The Nephilim and Elizium (from Elysium, the heaven in Greek mythology) - to the newly released video collection, Morphic Fields. Their latest video on tat collection, "Psychonaut," gives full development to McCoy's contention that sacrifice/crucifixion is an ancient pre-Christian notion of freedom of the soul, a release from its bonds - and that an apocalyptic cataclysm would be the spiritual liberation on a massive scale. In fact, it is the souls of the Nephilim giants, according to the Book of Jubilees, that still wander the Earth untried for their crimes after having been slain by obedient angels in a great catastrophe eons ago.

"In 'Psychonaut,' we tried to recreate the age-old ritual of soul release through sacrifice and salvation.," says McCoy. "The concept of matyrdom that most people think exists only in the Middle East has been a constantly recurring theme in human history. True, it can be a catalyst for war, but religion has always been. The video represents mans ancient belief that the body only temporarily houses the soul. Once released from the body, it can travel freely. (Thus the psychic astronaut - Psychonaut.) Man was much more in tune with nature back then, the first eon, the shamanic eon, and thus much more in touch with his senses beyond the five physical ones. One of his tool for survival was psychic ability."

The mysterious McCoy now removes his weather-worn jacket to reveal a five pointed star hanging from a chain around his neck. Could this pentagram be a totem of McCoy's penchant for evil?

People who don't really understand occultism automatically assume that this symbolizes evil or Satan," retorts McCoy. "What makes Hell powerful is man - his ideas. Of course, a lot of people involved with the occult are also involved with Satanic worship. That's not really what I'm interested in. I mean, it's a very personal thing. Let's just say I've done some experimenting, and certain things have worked for me. I think we're heading back to the first eon again, where man places greater credibility in occult practices. I mean, look how materialism and technology has screwed up the world."

Speaking of occult practices, just seeing Fields Of the Nephilim in concert can induce mystical flashbacks to the time of shamanism. (Yes, there's plenty of myst.) The five rawhide-clad figures conjure "lesser times, when men were free," as McCoy would put it. The cascading, almost hypnotic chorus of guitar sound entwines with the dusty halos surrounding the surreal, Old West caricatures that are the Nephilim.

Some would argue, however, that the Nephilim gang doesn't conjure up anything further back than the '80s - as in The Sisters Of Mercy or The Mission '80s. How does Carl McCoy respond to such comparisons to these bands?

"We're completely different from them. They're essentially pop-rock bands. We don't take the same approach to music that they do. Anyone who really understands what we're about wouldn't make such comparisons. Okay, maybe there's a superficial similarity on the surface, but below that, we have nothing in common."

As stated earlier, something is indeed brewing beneath the surface, and the answer to what it is can be found not only in the mind of Carl McCoy, but (as he would put it) in the mind of each one of us. This fall, you can conduct your own search for some answers when the Fields Of The Nephilim ride into your town on their North American tour. Keep a mind's eye out.