Friday, December 4, 2009

Fields of the Nephilim - Dawnrazor

9/10

The best Fields of the Nephilim songs paint a picture of a world that's been utterly devastated, both lyrically (as in Preacher Man, with its lyrics about nuclear fallout) and musically (most of this songs have this amazing sense of hopelessness). This isn't goth rock in the sense of the Cure's dreary albums, which are mostly about personal pain (nothing against Smith and Co, I can't get enough of their gloomy stuff); I could easily see these songs being used in a movie version of Stephen King's The Dark Tower or some Western-influenced post-apocalyptic film. The Fields are driven by atmosphere, not just a sense of melody or strong technical skills.
The bass is, in my opinion, the most important instrument here; it provides the foundation of dreariness that the songs are built upon, and Carl McCoy's deep, powerful vocals do nothing but enhance the mood. It's a credit to the band's songwriting skills that they manage to sound so bleak while relying on jangly guitars so heavily. There are some considerably brighter moments, such as the instrumental coda to Laura II, but not too many. A few parts don't work (the nursery rhyme at the end of "Vet for the Insane" and "Slow Kill"'s quote of Rachmaninoff are incredibly cheesy and out of place), but on the whole, this is an excellent and remarkably consistent record.

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