Fields of the Nephilim came into being during 1984, with members Tony Pettitt (bass), Paul Wright (guitarist), Carl McCoy (vocalist), Nod Wright (drums) and Gary Wisker (sax). The name was drawn from the Biblical legends of the Nephilim, who were fallen angels, expelled from Heaven for divulging hidden knowledge (including magic and medicine) to humankind. This reflected McCoy's abiding interest in matters occult and arcane. The band began gigging in abundance and that year produced their first e.p. 'Burning The Fields', on their own Tower label, after which Wisker parted company with the band. Originally, only 500 copies of this e.p. were pressed, but on the strength of its content, and the band's live shows, Fields of the Nephilim were soon signed up by Beggars Banquet, a label that promised several seminal alternative bands of the eighties such as The Cult and Bauhaus.
Joined by second guitarist, Peter Yates, The Nephilim 's first single with Beggars, 'Power' was brought out in 1986 on the subsidiary label Situation 2. The band were continuing to gig regularly and had established their own, individual image. Many assumed this simply to be a pastiche of spaghetti western chic, as it involved hats, long coats and a floury patina, but the essence behind the image of dust and death was more enduring, and gave the first insight into The Nephilim 's fascination with the darker side of life - the unknown, the beguiling and mystifying - which was to permeate all their songs. Lyrically, visually and artistically, the concept of the Biblical Nephilim, as interpreted by McCoy, was the impetus behind Fields of the Nephilim from beginning to end. It was these interests which were to propel the Nephilim (reluctantly) into the genre later known as Goth, although their obsessions were more in tune with the original inspirations of what was Gothic - a literary tradition that spanned centuries - than the devalued and hackneyed extrapolation it has since become. 'Power' was followed later in 1986 by the single 'Preacher Man', which engendered the first Nephilim video, directed by Richard Stanley, (director of 'Hardware' and 'Dust Devil'), who was a long-standing friend of McCoy's. 'Preacher Man' reached number 2 in the independent charts.
In 1987, the band's first album, ' Dawnrazor ' was released, which made a significant impact upon the polls in the music press. By now, The Nephilim had established their distinctive sound and visuals. At gigs, dramatic and evocative effects were conjured by deceptively simple adjuncts, such as harsh, white backlighting to the stage and copious billows of dry ice and smoke. The music was powerful, yet haunting: evoking both a harrowing tension of apocalyptic despair and an uplifting aurora borealis of hope. At this time, it became destiny that a multitude of young, hopeful guitarists would one day attempt to emulate the controlled freneticism of Wright and Yates, and the sepulchral snarls of McCoy. The core of the band's loyal following adopted the generic title Bonanzas, a tongue-in-cheek gesture towards what the media assumed The Nephilim to represent.
With the next two singles, 'Blue Water' (1987) and 'Moonchild' (1988), the band attempted to further the visions with their first video. Although financed by low budgets, the videos to both singles are mini-features: a far cry from the self-preening and posturing affairs that many bands adopted at the time. Both their singles reached number 1 in the independent charts, and Moonchild reached to Top 40 of the standard charts. The band's second album, ' The Nephilim ', appeared in 1988, as well as the first live concert video, 'Forever Remain'. The album reached number 12 in the Album Charts. The band look back to these times as the most exciting, when their reputation was exploding into dominance, and the information service, 'The Watchman', was attracting fans faster than could be dealt with.
In 1989, the single 'Psychonaut' was released, which spawned a new limb of The Nephilim 's following: the Psycho-Vikings. 'Psychonaut' was inspired by an artistic theory known as the Golden Section, and was seen by the band as their most experimental project to date. The accompanying video caused a considerable stir, melding striking images with hypnotic sound. (The videos to 'Preacher Man', 'Blue Water', 'Moonchild' and 'Psychonaut' were released as a collection 'Morphic Fields', in 1989.) The band continued to tour intensively, and in 1990 released their third album ' Elizium ', with its associated singles and videos 'For Her Light' and 'Sumerland'. In 1990, the live double album 'Earth Inferno' was released, supplemented by a concert video, 'Visionary Heads'. This revealed the Nephilim at their most potent. Gigs were now spectacular events. From the moment you entered a venue, you were aware that something extraordinary was about to happen: an intense atmosphere of excitement and trance-like tension pervaded the space. When the band came on-stage, this was released in a gush of power: the only reality being smoke, and light and resonant sound. Fans became a sea of clawing, baying dervishes, writhing hypnotically to the invocation enacted on the stage above them. In retrospect, perhaps events were reaching a peak. An important cycle was approaching completion, and indeed had to be completed, before individual members of the band could begin new cycles in their careers and creativity.
As such, perhaps it should not be viewed as lamentable that, early in 1991, Fields of the Nephilim performed their last two gigs, the 'Fire Festivals', at the Town and Country Club in London. It was the climax of their manifestation, and a fitting finale for the band that had become a phenomenon.
Peter Yates, Tony Pettitt, and Nod and Paul Wright moved on to form the band Rubicon, forging a new sound and concept, aided by vocalist Andy Delaney. They released their first album 'What Starts, Ends', in 1992, to critical acclaim, and toured both in England and Europe (followed by a second album. Carl McCoy is himself working on a new album (' Zoon '), with new musicians. The name chosen for the band is The Nefilim - which utilises an alternative Hebraic spelling of the original name.