Fields of the Nephilim

Earth Inferno

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One reason the Fields of the Nephilim were so successful at what they did was their live performance sense. If McCoy especially wasn't really believing he was carrying out religious rites from a long-dead mystic past, then he sure knew how to put on a convincing act, while the remaining four gave no quarter, turning the sometimes subtler edges of their studio work into full-on attack. Call it heavy metal by any other standard -- it was loud enough to be just that, but instead of wannabe-blues wankery or Metallithrash, everything was suffused in the band's unique, doom-laden combination of earlier goth, Morricone, and aggressive prog, with the amps cranked to ten. Inferno, the Nephilim's final official release before their late 1991 breakup, captures songs from three separate 1990 shows, artfully combined in one powerful document. If the band never exactly performed a full set like this, then they definitely should have. Including three of the four main Elizium numbers in full versions -- "For Her Light," "Submission," and "Sumerland" -- Inferno also draws upon established past hits as "Preacher Man," "Moonchild," and "Psychonaut," plus album cuts "Love Under Will," "Last Exit for the Lost," and the concluding "Dawnrazor," made even more majestic and commanding than the studio version, if that's possible. Generally little is changed in the actual arrangements of the songs for the live venue -- "Psychonaut" has a mostly full-band performance throughout, while slight alterations are also done for "Sumerland." In terms of fire and force, though, these takes can be considered definitive through and through. McCoy's wracked vocals are that of a man possessed, Nod Wright's huge drumming doesn't let up, Paul Wright and Yates' guitars know when to hold back and when to completely let loose, and Pettitt's bass provides the moody undertow for it all.

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