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introEssigfabrik, Cologne, Germany
19th March 2016
Fields of the Nephilim & Frank the Baptist

If you had never been to the Essigfabrik in Cologne before, didn't bring a GPS, and suffer from a poor sense of direction (may it be chronic or due to over-excitement), it would have been no problem at all to find the rock club last Saturday night. You wouldn't spot that many broad-brimmed hats in one place on just another normal day and what's easier than to follow some heavy leather boots and long black coats floating in the evening breeze? The scent of patchouli would of course also direct a “Moonchild” to the right location. That evening, the place to be was the old-ish factory which used to produce vinegar; now, for almost 20 years the Essigfabrik with its white paint splintering at the ceiling above the stage has been a concert venue providing space for 1,200 music lovers to rock out. No wonder that there was a full house on March 19: Iconic cowboy Goth rockers FIELDS OF THE NEPHILIM from Stevenage in Hertfordshire, England, were finally in town to grace the stage!


Frank the Baptist

FRANK THE BAPTIST was created by vocalist/ guitarist Frank Vollmann in the late 90s in San Diego, USA. Ten years ago, the frontman in the top hat relocated to Berlin to work on some dark, alternative rock music with post punk vibes that he's now playing together with Ilija Gavrilenko (bass), Ralf Huenefeld (guitars), and Slay Deeh (drums). FRANK THE BAPTIST has released the debut album ‘Different Degrees of Empty’ in 2003, which was followed by ‘Beggars Would Ride’ a year later. Trooping together a great following FTB toured all over Europe and headlined the Wave Gotik Treffen back in 2005. Album No. 3 entitled ‘The New Colossus’ was out in 2008 and after quite some time, FTB finally released their fourth and most powerful record, ‘As the Camp Burns’, last year. https://www.facebook.com/frankthebaptist / http://frankvollmann.com/frankthebaptist/

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Music & Performance
FRANK THE BAPTIST hit the darkened stage shortly after 8pm. Then the post punks kicked off their solid set of eleven unique Goth rock pieces. They presented, all in all, four songs from their debut: Starting with ‘Silver is her Color’, they later on presented ‘Letters to Earth’, ‘Falling Stars’ and the anti-war song ‘Folded Flags (Piranha)’. From the recent album they performed a selection of five tracks: ‘Ashes Ashes’, ‘Bleeding in my Arms’, ‘Diogenes Travels’, ‘Sea Legs on a Train’, and ‘How Low are We’. It's been a great 45-minute show with crazily fast shifting stage lighting. Frank told us that they were honoured to tour with FIELDS OF THE NEPHILIM and said the audience was lucky and could expect an amazing NEPHILIM show. The three Goth ladies standing in front of me seemed they had come only because of FTB though. They were dancing frantically, singing along during the entire show, and left the front rows to get some beers after FTB's final piece. The band closed their set with ‘If I Speak’ from the ‘The New Colossus’ album, during which the tall guitarist Ralf joined in the backing vocals which the crowd would appreciate even more, if it had been somewhat louder.

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Finally, the band invited “those who liked what they heard” to support them and say hi at the merch stand. On the whole, the sound was clear in the Essigfabrik but, according to a couple of concert goers, it could have been better since it was slightly too loud for the venue. With their original tunes and quite powerful live vocals, FRANK THE BAPTIST may have surprised many in the audience of those who haven't heard of them before. FTB's singular vocal melodies were exceptional and I enjoyed how their songs spread a melancholic feel and energy at the same time. FTB are convincing, not only coming from the stereo, but also live on stage. I only missed one of my favourite tunes: ‘Scars Forever’.

Setlist
01. Silver is her Color
02. Ashes Ashes
03. Folded Flags (Piranha)
04. Letters to Earth
05. Diogenes Travels
06. Falling Stars
07. Bleeding in my Arms
08. Sea Legs on a Train
09. Beg, Steal and Borrow
10. How Low are We
11. If I Speak

Rating
Music: 8
Performance: 8
Sound: 7
Light: 7
Total: 7.5 / 10

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Fields of the Nephilim

Founded in the mid-1980s, the NEPHS celebrate over three decades of existence in the world of metal, gothic, and industrial music, blessing their devoted following with classics, such as, ‘Preacher Man’, ‘The Watchman’, ‘Dawnrazor’, ‘Moonchild’, and many more. In July 2014, creator and vocalist Carl McCoy announced on their website that new FOTN songs were in the making and explained how beastly hard it is to complete a creation: “Now is the chance for me to let go and release some new Nephilim tracks […]. Trying to concentrate the work and thoughts down to a simple single objective is always a difficult practice but that’s the nature of the beast… easy to find the beginning but always hard to reach the end. […] We are finally at the stage of recording and compiling the most important elements created and gathered.”During their 30th Anniversary Celebration concerts in London, they've presented for the first time pieces of this new material since their 2005's memorable album ‘Mourning Sun’. The release date of a new and much-anticipated FIELDS OF THE NEPHILIM opus still remains shrouded in darkness. However, a few days before the gig in Cologne, on March 17, the new single ‘Prophecy’ was released on the Sacred Symphony label as a download on iTunes. Currently, the incarnation of FOTN are the original members Carl McCoy (vocals) and Tony Pettit (bass), Gav King (guitar), Tom Edwards (guitar), and Lee Newell (drums). https://www.facebook.com/FieldsOfTheNephilim / http://www.fields-of-the-nephilim.com/

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Music & Performance
The NEPHILIM fellowship had eagerly awaited this show, which had been planned for past November but had to be postponed due to workings on or around the new album. The patience of those that love the doomier side of the musical spectrum was rewarded with a stunningly enigmatic live show filled with beloved FOTN classics and some incredible, brand-new material. There was an extensive sound check during the break and one could feel the tension rising in the Essigfabrik. It was about ten minutes after 9pm when the intro sounds of ‘24th Moment’ were played while the four musicians Pettit, Kind, Edwards and Newell entered the stage. The evocative sounds created a NEPHILIM typical atmosphere of mystery while spotlights panned through the darkness. Here and there shouts and whistling came from the audience. Then, green lighting illuminated the stage and with ‘Dawnrazor’, the title track from the band's debut record from 1986, the titans of shamanistic Goth rock successfully mesmerized the crowd from the very beginning. Lo and behold! – Shortly before the first verse, the legend himself, Mr. Carl McCoy, joined the instrumentalists. He walked slowly to his mike stand and waited for his cue by bending over it as he usually does. Cheers and applause. And then Carl's distinctive guttural gnarled vocals filled the air and we were under a spell.

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The band presented six further masterpieces from their traditional repertoire. After the celebrated single ‘Moonchild’, the fog machine was called into action, Carl took off his coat, and they played the apocalyptic ‘For Her Light’, the opening track from ‘Elizium’ (1990). The moody ‘Love Under Will’ from ‘The Nephilim’ album (1988) followed. Then, during the evocative ‘From the Fire’, the single from ‘Fallen’ (2002), the audience joined Carl in the chorus screaming along “Help me! From the fire!”. With the heavy ‘Zoon III (Wake World)’, which Carl released on the progressive metal/ industrial sounding ‘Zoon’ under the name of THE NEFILIM in 1996, FOTN took us on another journey. After another old song, the captivating single ‘Psychonaut’ back from 1989, it was time for some new tunes. FOTN first played the ambient ‘Equinox’ and then the new punchy single ‘Prophecy’. The latter, a rousing Goth rock anthem with its melodic chorus and some wonderfully propelling bass by Tony Pettit, made a heavy guy take off his shirt and join in the moshing pit in front of the stage. “Let the fire burn […] Burn! Burn!” While it's been somewhat chilly in the beginning of the evening at the Essigfabrik, FOTN turned the place into a witch's cauldron with their unique sombrous sound and energy.

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The blissful crowd made a lot of noise to bring the band back on stage for the encore: the legendary ‘Last Exit for the Lost’ was welcomed with many cheers. During this melancholic epic from ‘The Nephilim’ album, one could feel the heat rising from the crowd. Arms were spread up in the air and the fans sang along the chorus at the top of their voices. As the song evolved and got more up-tempo, Carl incited the crowd even more by walking towards us and simply spreading his arms. Less is more. There are a few bands that don't need any talking and can let their magical music speak for itself; FOTN are definitely one of them. When THE NEPHS left once again the fans enthusiastically called for more. It remained dark and we were hoping that they would come out once again. And in contrast to the previous gigs in Munich and Bremen, they did. Another highlight followed: the band around Carl McCoy shared their ‘Mourning Sun’ with us.

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What an inspirational show! As expected, THE FIELDS enchanted their fans that night at the Essigfabrik. After 80 minutes of sonic delight full of atmosphere, pure power and passion, Mr McCoy addressed the audience with the words “Thank you very much, good bye!”, and one of our all-time favourite dusky bands disappeared again. The mystic gathering in Cologne dissolved and whilst we're now awaiting THE NEPH's presence at this year's M'era Luna festival, we can keep on looking forward to a new and exciting NEPHILIM opus – hopefully to be released “Zooner” rather than later. THE FIELDS OF THE NEPHILIM are back and they've promised: “What’s to come will fulfil the faith of those who wait.”

Setlist
01. 24th Moment (Intro)
02. Dawnrazor
03. Moonchild
04. For Her Light
05. Love Under Will
06. From the Fire
07. Zoon III (Wake World)
08. Psychonaut
09. Equinox
10. Prophecy
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11. Last Exit for the Lost
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12. Mourning Sun

Rating
Music: 10
Performance: 10
Sound: 8
Light: 8
Total: 9 / 10

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All pictures by Daniela Vorndran (http://www.vorndranphotography.com/ http://www.facebook.com/blackcatnet)

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