Fire & brimstone tirades: “Video Flash Tracks” featuring UK goth-rockers Fields of the Nephilim

By on November 16, 2017

This episode of Night Flight’s “Video Flash Tracks” — which originally aired on September 16, 1988 — features three videos by UK “spaghetti metal” goth-rockers Fields of the Nephilim, who created, as announcer Pat Prescott tells us, “the soundtrack to the future nobody wants to live in, but everybody wants to listen to.”

Watch it now on Night Flight Plus!


“Rising like ghosts from a swamp,” Pat Prescott says during her intro, “the London band Fields of the Nephilim combine the dusty, lawless legacy of the American west with a lot of post-apocalyptic dread.”


Forming in 1984, in Stevenage, Hertfordshire, England — a small borough north of London designated the UK’s first “new town” under the post-war “New Towns Act” — the Fields of Nephilim are often mentioned alongside similar British goth-rockers like the Sisters Of Mercy, the Mission, and the Cult.

Dave Dickson of the British music magazine Kerrang! called them “spaghetti metal.”

Their first lineup featured Carl McCoy (vocals), Paul Wright (guitar), Tony Pettit (bass), Alexander “Nod” Wright (Paul’s brother, on drums) and Gary Wisker (sax).

Wisker was later replaced by second guitarist/keyboardist Peter Yates, after the release of their debut EP Burning the Fields in 1985, the first of several lineup changes with frontman Carl McCoy being the only continual member.


In an interview with Night Flight, McCoy explained the meaning behind his band’s name:

“Some angels were cast out of the heavens, and they came down to the earth, and they bred with the women on the earth, and produced like this supernatural race of giants, and the giants sort’ve roamed the earth for awhile and they were supposedly wiped out during the flood, but there was a few survivors, but no one really, really knows what happened to them. I mean, know one knows enough about the Nephilim anyways, it’s just like a legend, so we took the name on because it’s quite a mysterious thing, and we added ‘Fields’ as in like ‘magnetic fields,’ drawn in towards the Nephilim rather like in green pastures.”


Actually, the Nephilim (Hebrew for “the fallen ones”) were first mentioned in The Book of Enoch, a non-canonical apocryphal work from the second century B.C.E., featuring hallucinatory visions of heaven and hell, angels and devils.

It was Enoch — the great-grandfather of Noah, the dude with the ark — who introduced concepts such as fallen angels, later to have a huge influence on early Christian, particularly Gnostic, beliefs.


McCoy — whose won family were practitioners of the millenarian restorationist Christian denomination commonly called Jehovah’s Witnesses — had long been interested in religion, as well as the supernatural, black magick and the occult. He claims to have experienced visions about the Nephilim at an early age.

He was also fascinated by the supernatural and horror writings of H.P. Lovecraft, particularly in his Cthulu Mythos (several of the band’s tracks, including “The Watchman” and “Last Exit for the Lost” from 1988’s The Nephilim, invoked the name of Cthulu, Lovecraft’s octopus/dragon-like elder god entity).


Read more about Fields of the Nephilim and their videos below.


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Never critical darlings, Fields of Nephilim — later simply the Nephilim, but spelled “Nefilim” — developed a devoted and loyal following.

McCoy dressed his band up like desperados in spaghetti western-style dusters, boots and cowboy hats (the band’s weather-beaten clothes had, by the band’s own admission, been dusted with Mother’s Pride flour to achieve the proper look).


“The first Fields of the Nephilim album, Dawnrazor,” Pat Prescott tells us, “sliced its way into critics hearts and put the Neph’s ‘spaghetti metal’ high on the indie charts. Dawnrazor became the soundtrack to the future nobody wants to live in, but everybody wants to listen to.

Their bombastic breakthrough release, 1987’s “Preacher Man,” became their unofficial anthem.

In the video, McCoy, as Pat Prescott says, “spouts a fire and brimstone tirade.”


This video and the one for “Blue Water” — their first single to reach the UK charts (#75) — were both directed by South African-born filmmaker Richard Stanley for his Shadow Theatre Films.

Both look something like what we imagine a overly-theatrical Sergio Leone epic horror western might have looked, a dusty Deadwood-style town where outlaw gunfighters and assorted high plains drifters co-mingle with supernatural beings.


McCoy, looking like some kind of fanatical religious zealot, is seen delivering his guttural, growled vocals from a battered wooden pulpit.

He’s also wearing dieselpunk goggles (like something Thomas Dolby might wear) and wielding a bio-mechanical robot hand which lashes out with the smart crack of a whip at a mute congregation of followers.


Stanley — who also directed music videos for for Public Image, Ltd., Renegade Soundwave, Pop Will Eat Itself and Gallon Drunk, to name a few others — eventually directed feature films like 1990’s Hardware and ’92’s Dust Devil, the first of those featuring McCoy (as a “zonetripper”) alongside other non-actors like Lemmy Kilmister of Motörhead and Iggy Pop (he’s heard, not seen, playing an FM rock deejay).


Also featured here is the Fields of the Nephilim’s video for “Moonchild,” featuring one of those destructive Nephilim angel-human hybrids we mentioned above.

The track — named for British occultist Aleister Crowley’s novel — was released in September 1988, the same month we aired our “Video Flash Tracks.” It ended up being their most successful single (#28 UK).


“Moonchild” was the first lead single from the Nephilim’s much-darker sophomore effort, The Nephilim, their second LP for Beggars Banquet/Situation Two, which climbed to #14 in the UK albums chart, the highest chart position the band achieved (also #2 on the Indie album charts).

Check out this 1988 episode of Night Flight’s “Video Flash Tracks” — which also featured videos by the Style Council, Aztec Camera and more — which you’ll find streaming over on Night Flight Plus!


About Bryan Thomas

Bryan Thomas has been a freelancing writer/critic for All Music Guide, and a contributor to Launch, Music Connection, Big Takeover and numerous other publications and entertainment websites, blogs and zines, most of them long gone. He's written more than sixty sets of liner notes. He’s also worked for over twenty years at mostly reissue record labels -- prior to that he worked in bookstores and record stores, going all the way back to the original vinyl daze. He lives in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA.