NME, SEPTEMBER 3, 1988
BY STEVE LAMACQ
Bob Harris, The Mission, Tottenham Hotspur -- surely there is more to ridicule than Fields of the Nephilim. Yet the consensus reaction to this treasure chest will doubtless be the same as preceding Neph records: "You must be mad!" I am, in fact, horribly inflamed. Gladly accepting a Fields record is looked upon, in many circles, as the equivalent of asking for a contagious disease. But this from dolts too soft to listen to their bloody records first.
I've been guilty of it myself, but strangely my ears have been bleeding all night to this. If this LP's not at least good, then my body is malfunctioning more than I feared. You have to appreciate how far this murky bunch of desperadoes have come in the last four years.
From rags to more rags, from supporting Chelsea to headlining tours. The Nephs have grafted without complaint. They've won their spurs and now here they sit rubbing them clean, polishing their gritty melodies into a perversely haunting collection of songs.
It is less Spaghetti Western and more 'movie mystery,' shivering and spine-tingling with some tricky guitar that fiddles round while Carl McCoy's throat burns. The gruff vocals, rather than grating, have a haunting and eerie edge.
They've maintained a brooding power, but dispensed with the gratuitous 'gothy' anthems. Only, 'Phobia,' like Motorhead's 'Ace Of Spades' in drag, sees their elbows flying into a frenetic dance routine.
Elsewhere the rumbling rhythms have an almost sublime style. 'Endemoniada' has a lightly atmospheric build-up before branching out into an excitable climax while 'The Watchman' -- possibly the best song on the album -- simmers with tiny explosions going off in the form of fire-cracking guitars and heated vocals.
Side Two has a mere three songs on it, but they're epic in length. Trampling on incessantly, 'Celebrate' leads into 'Love Under Will' with its scything beauty, which in turn opens its door for 'Last Exit For The Lost', the colossal climax. It swirls, creating a melodramatic haze, the real McCoy being replaced by the Sinatra version, a mixture of growling and crooning.
A shock, but more reassuringly, 'The Nephilim' is their assertion that beneath the muck and the dust, there are aspirations to beauty.