Losing the saxophone player from earlier EPs and taking advantage of better budgets and studios, the Nephilim on their first full album established themselves as serious contenders in the goth world. It certainly didn't hurt having signed to Beggars Banquet, home of such acts as Bauhaus and the Cult, though the more obvious source of the Nephilim's sound at this point was the Sisters of Mercy, various attempts to deny it aside. Like Eldritch's crew, the Nephilim fivesome weren't aiming just for the clad-in-black audience, but at being a great group in general; while that goal wasn't quite achieved on Dawnrazor, the band came very close. With sympathetic and evocative production throughout by Bill Buchanan, the album strongly showcases another chief element of the Nephilim's sound: Ennio Morricone. The at-the-time totally outrageous fusion of smoky, cinematic spaghetti western guitars with the doom-wracked ominous flavor of the music in general, not to mention McCoy's growled invocations of pagan ceremonies and mystic energy, provoked a lot of merriment from outside observers. The Nephilim stuck to their guns, though, and by wisely never cracking a smile on this album, they avoided the cheap ironic way out. Songs here which would become classics in the band's repertoire included the fiery "Preacher Man," which sounds like what would happen if Sergio Leone filmed a Stephen King story; the quick, dark gallop of "Power" (originally a separate single, then added to the album on later pressings); and the slow, powerful build of the title track, featuring McCoy practically calling the demons down on his head. For all of the undeniable musicianship and storming fury of the songs, sometimes things just get a little too goofy for words, as revealed in a classic, unintentionally hilarious lyric by McCoy from "Vet for the Insane": "The flowers in the kitchen...WEEP for you!."
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Ned Raggett