Fields of the Nephilim


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Not an actual album but a collection of the band's debut EPs, Laura shows that while a fair amount of the Fields' aesthetic bent was well in place before singing to Beggars Banquet, there were still some growing pains. The way Laura is sequenced actually makes it seem like the band is regressing, since the earliest tracks appear at the end -- and notably different they are! Not least because the "classic" lineup with guitarist Peter Yates wasn't in place yet -- instead, the sound is filled out by, of all things, a sax player! Gary Wisker's performance isn't as completely out of place as might be thought; Daniel Ash's abilities on the same instrument had added some agreeable energy and skronk to goth forefathers Bauhaus, for instance. Still, it's a bit weirdly disconcerting at points, and on songs like "Back to Gehenna" the effect is more of a soundtrack item to some semi-pseudo apocalypse film like Streets of Fire or the like from the mid-'80s. There's still enough moments of tension and interest, though -- check out the slow, mysterious start to "Darkcell" or the original "Laura" (its later remake is on the disc as well), while Carl McCoy's voice achieves the reasonable level of doomy groan needed (though admittedly the overdubs on "Darkcell" itself verge on the giggly). As for the later tracks, one, "Power," ended up barely changed for its re-recording and re-release on Beggars Banquet, while "Secrets" is almost a swooning romance in ways, less storm clouds and more a big and bold number that calls to mind early Cult. There are some moments that certainly just don't work -- the less production the band had going for them, the more thrashy and ordinary they were -- but Laura will still interest those already taken by the Fields as a whole.

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