We’ve been awaiting news from Fields of the Nephilim ever since tales of exciting new material emerged on social media last year. We all know what a perfectionist frontman Carl McCoy is when it comes to his music, and that’s only right and proper, because having followed the band for over 30 years, I know this much: this is not ‘just’ music: it’s so much more.
The mainstream music press has spent decades trying to figure out Fields of the Nephilim, focusing mainly on the band’s image and more obvious eccentricities, all the while totally missing the point; the magic is the music, and the music is the magic. And the band performs to audiences in gatherings that are not just gigs, but rituals.
The magically- minded, then, welcome McCoy’s latest output, the single Prophecy, not just as 4 minutes and 21 seconds of music, but as an embodied ritual. The name alone speaks of revelations yet to be made, while the track’s central motifs of fire and vision – both outer and inner – can’t fail to ignite the imagination.
Prophecy kicks off with sinuous, insistent guitar before, bam! It kicks brilliantly into life with McCoy’s signature roar/yowl/channeled incantation, to me reminiscent of the classic track Chord of Souls. The Raggedy Man is clearly still in cracking voice as he gutters and growls his way through to a melodic and emotive chorus, underpinned by some wonderfully chugging bass – it’s goosebump-making stuff.
‘Let the fire burn’ is the track’s central refrain: let the fire burn, intones McCoy (or whichever entity he may be embodying), and let the spirit rise. It’s rousing stuff for these troubled times, even leaving aside all the esoteric ramifications. This is a song to rally to: ignite the fire of your passion, your love, your fear, your anger – and then raise the element of air, to keep that fire burning bright.
To the casual listener, this is a well-crafted, punchy but meticulously-produced track, combining melody and power. To the Nephilim fan, it’s a feral, seething head-on charge that nods to pretty much every album of their career. You’ll hear Mourning Sun in there, you’ll hear Zoon, Dawnrazor, and I reckon it’s going to be absolutely incredible live. Not to mention that with every listen you’ll discover new tones, refrains and references that will have you digging eagerly into your Nephilim back catalogue.
But what of the visuals accompanying the track, and of course, its creator? The metal-handed ranter of the Preacher Man video, who defies death at the hands of chainsaw-wielding zombies to reanimate in Blue Water? Fields of the Nephilim has, undeniably, always revolved around the creative vision of Carl McCoy and so with any new single, we’re going to want to see the man himself. Unfortunately, you have to wait for the last 21 seconds of the song so before he puts in a brief appearance: I won’t give away any details, but fans will be delighted to see ‘the glove’ in action.
The band’s management are adamant that Prophecy – true to its name – heralds a tranche of new Fields of the Nephilim material which will be released according to a pre-determined schedule. If this track is anything to go by, Carl’s long hours in the studio have paid off in spades and it looks like we’re going to see some of the band’s most exciting output for a very long time.
Prophecy is available immediately on iTunes, with a physical release on both CD and vinyl promising artwork and bonus material following in due course, we’re told.