Review Summary: The dismal work of a greedy record label that should never have seen the light of day.
Devoted fans of Fields of the Nephilim must have been jumping for joy when Carl Mccoy announced that the band, alongside original members Paul Wright and Nod Wright, would reform in 1998, whilst also exclaiming that his other project, Nefilim, would be working on new material. Well, there's a couple of problems with this statement, unfortunately. First and foremost, the Wright brothers never really showed up at the meeting regarding the band's reformation, leaving Carl Mccoy wondering where the hell they were. It turns out that they didn't actually want a reformation to happen, and so Carl Mccoy has since been the only original member to handle FOTN. The poor guy. The only other problem is that Nefilim haven't actually been doing anything for the past fourteen years, other than simply exist as a name. Therefore, when Fields of the Nephilim's fourth studio album, “Fallen” was about to be released in 2002, Carl Mccoy was left on his own to deal with everything.
It gets worse. According to Mccoy and the bands website, this album was “an unauthorized cash-in of unreleased demos, pilfered by the label”. So, on top of radically difficult line-up changes and an accidental announcement of the band's reformation, the record label had gone over FOTN's head and released an album without permission. You'll be reading this now and asking yourself “Does it get even worse than this"”. Well yes it does, but not by much. “Fallen” is mostly an album that falls flat on its face, and sounds like it should never have been recorded in the first place. 12 years after the release of “Elizium”, and this is what the follow-up is. An irritating mess of no less than 30 painstakingly monotonous minutes, the other 10 being the only decent ones to save “Fallen” from being a complete and utter catastrophe.
You know your expectations aren't going to be met when the opening song proves to be one of the worst and most pointless songs of the band's career. 'Dead to the World' features a lot of industrial noises, too many incomprehensible voices and too much inaudible vocal talent from Carl Mccoy, that seems unfortunately lost in the appearingly endless waves of heavy guitar work, that repeats itself throughout the song. In particular the vocal work of Carl Mccoy sounds too idle to say that it is from the very same source as albums like “The Nephilim” and “Elizium”. Even when Mccoy tries to croon along and flow with the other instrumental work, it all seems as if he's trying too hard to be as seductive as Ville Valo on 'Buried alive by Love' or Ozzy Osbourne on 'Changes'. Instead Mccoy comes across as an old man trying to clear his throat. Which doesn't sound very nice at all, especially when the industrial noises surrounding this are equally as dismal.
The songs on “Fallen” are diverse, but this isn't to say that they are interesting in any way. 'From the Fire' literally depends on a repetitive keyboard note and Mccoy obviously offering his love to someone when singing “I'll be here/right next to you, my darling”, and whilst this does sound promising at times, perhaps reminiscent of the band's first album, “Dawnrazor”, it still doesn't work very well with lyrics that could have been written by a very depressed teenager. There is a better example of this when 'Deeper' consists of Mccoy repetitively chanting the song's title in such a lackluster way that it literally orders you to skip to the next track. And the next, when listening to an album like "Fallen".
All is not lost however, because “Fallen” does have its true highlights, even if there aren't that many to be found. 'Hollow Doll' begins very promisingly when that instantly recognizable guitar work, courtesy of Paul Wright, arrives. It turns out that this is merely a re-recording of various parts of the “Burning the Fields” EP, which was strongly helped by the Wright brothers' guitar work. Then the song continues into a harmonic and melancholic style that could easily have been taken from “Elizium” itself. The significance of the title track also contributes very well to how consistent Mccoy can be with his cleaner vocals, especially when he writes some truly impressive lyrics that can back those cleaner vocals up perfectly, so thhat Mccoy's voice doesn't simply hang around in the background. The songwriting of the title track itself doesn't seem all that impressive, being reminiscent of a standard HIM song, but it works in such a good way when all the instruments are used perfectly, to give those same emotions of sadness, anger and melancholy that were created on FOTN's first few albums.
It is clear when listening to an album like “Fallen” that the band did not have anything to do with it whatsoever. Carl mccoy himself admits that this album should never have happened, and I agree strongly. The filler material in 'Premonition' and 'Darkcell AD' don't add anything to the album, and even when the album's true highlights, 'Hollow Doll' and the title track represent FOTN's better songwriting, they still don't take away from the fact that “Fallen” is really the work of a greedy record label, and not of a band as greatly talented as Fields of the Nephilim. Oh well, at least the band's next album, “Mourning Sun”, would prove as a strikingly superior follow-up. Buy this, but only if you are interested in completing your FOTN collections.