Throughout the world's mythologies, certain themes return again and again, leitmotifs of the struggle faced by humanity. The recurrence of mythological themes often bolster the idea that as humans, we all draw from the same well of inspiration; perhaps even from what Jung termed the collective unconscious.
One of those themes is the love between a supernatural being and a human. Perhaps present in every mythology known to man, the story returns again and again. In Welsh lore, the human king Pwyll falls in love with Rhiannon, the Queen of Faery, and even agrees to spend time in the otherworld before she agrees to come live with him in the human world. In Greek mythology, the moon goddess Selene looks down upon the shepherd Endymion, and asks that he be put into an eternal sleep so that she might always come upon him at night and love him. Also from the Greek mythology, it was Hades' love for Persephone that brought about the winter on Earth -- the time when he kept her in the underworld for himself.
The Biblical Apocrypha tells a story much like these, although on a grander scale. Two hundred angels, known as the 'Órin,' which translates to "those who watch" or simply "Watchers," look down upon earth and see the beautiful women there. They descend to earth and take the women as wives, but as they begin to procreate, the women give birth to a race of giants who bring about the near-total destruction of the planet. The angels in heaven plea with God to stop the madness, and God banishes the descendent angels to a prison, from which they will not released until the armageddon. The angels are called the Watchers, and their children -- the giants -- are called the Nephilim.
In the early 1980s, England spawned a few giants of its own in the form of
Fields of the Nephilim, a spooky rock outfit fronted by Carl McCoy. Dressed
in cowboy leathers and black dusters, coated liberally with flour for that
fresh-from-grave look (although it's worth noting that flour is often used
for spiritual protection, especially in Voudun practices), the band released
"Dawnrazor," then "The Nephilim" and "Elyzium." By the time that third album
was released in 1991, the band had left dozens of goth groups gasping in the
dust, and thousands of fans scrambling to find the meaning behind some of
their more esoteric mythological references.
Thankfully, fellow Nephilim-lover Paula O'Keefe has generously laid down the story of how Fields of the Nephilim drew together its own mythology -- from the Apocrypha to Sumerian lore to the Cthulu mythos, and on into modern chaos magic -- in her essay Leviathan Chained, and a history of the band itself -- with some review of its music -- in another essay, Gehenna to Elizium. I highly recommend you read these works if you are a fan of the band. Her writings will also help you make sense of the rest of this page.
In the early 1990s, McCoy announced he'd be going his separate way from his brothers in Fields of the Nephilim. While the other musicians worked on a new album under the name Rubicon, McCoy took in a new band, calling it simply Nefilim. "No one really knows that much about the Nephilim, it's a mysterious thing. We added 'Fields,' which is to suggest magnetic fields, pulling in toward the Nephilim, not green pastures," McCoy explained in a 1988 interview on USA Network's Night Flight. He'd dropped the 'Fields' now and was going straight for the heart of the myth -- looking through the eyes of the giants themselves. In 1996, "Zoon" was released.
Critics compared "Zoon" to everything from Ministry to Wagner. Most seemed impressed with the complexities of the work, impenetrable as it might have seemed at the time. Here's what a couple of people had to say:
"Lyrically, McCoy uses Zoon to explore the extremes of human experience, but with a visceral poetry and potent conviction that sets his work far apart from the cheap exploitation often associated with those themes. His words have their own dramatic climate, evoking bruised skies, heavy clouds and sudden tempests." -- iMusic Rock Showcase
"Zoon is terrifying, unrelenting; an amped up nightmare where Goth collides with speed metal, usurps Ministry, puts it all through a compressor and spits out The Nephilim for the mid-'90s. So vast is Zoon, so Wagnerian, so incanted that it treads a perilous edge where a void of unremitting darkness claws at the feet, curled fingers pour out of unbidden space to rape the mind, faces in four dimensions whirl in a cinema of gargoyle, a freak show for the demented and diabolical, a place where realisation meets dissipation and denial, God and the devil morph in a power struggle, the focus blurs and the crazed and insane seem strangely happy and right. Zoon is epic genius that pushes the boundaries to the seam of the soul. Penetration, Venus Decomposing, Melt, Coma ... there is no respite, no easy out. This is for keeps." -- "Decibels," Mike Gee
"To me it's a very special album. I had to make massive sacrifices to be able to do this. And so it's very special to me, but to literally explain what it means to me is a very odd thing to translate, cause it normally comes across looking cheap. It's all there on the album, the feelings, the thoughts, the words, the music." This was McCoy on the topic of "Zoon" itself. Ever the mystery man, he left it to listeners to figure out what it meant.
And so we've tried to do just that. Again, I'll refer you to Paula O'Keefe's smart interpretation of the album, Venus Decomposing. She sees the album as a translation of Inanna's descent into the underworld, and does a good job explaining her feelings about the record.
But I see something different in "Zoon" -- I wouldn't be writing this if I didn't. Her essay sent me on a journey of my own. After reading her words and Diane Wolkenstein and Samuel Noah Kramer's amazing translation of the Inanna tale in "Inanna, Queen of Heaven and Earth," I felt that while her understanding of "Zoon" was certainly valid, McCoy's quote -- that the story is plain in the music if you look at it -- led me to another place entirely.
And that's when I found the Book of Enoch -- one of the Apocryphal books which tells the story of the Watchers and the Nephilim. Although the Aprocrypha on the whole is controversial, and the books which comprise it may have been written centuries after the bulk of the material in the Bible, there are places within the Bible which validate the existence of the Nephilim as well as the descent of the Watchers to Earth, and their punishment: "That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose." (Ge 6:2) Jude also makes reference to these fallen angels -- "6 And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day." However, some believe that Enoch was written well before the Bible and was considered too old to be included in the canon. There is even some evidence that the Watchers and the Nephilim were mentioned in the Dead Sea Scrolls.
The chapters in the Book of Enoch which pertain to the Watchers seemed to echo the songs on "Zoon" chapter for chapter, in some cases line by line. As I compared the two -- as I'll do through the course of this essay -- I found that the myth went even deeper. McCoy has grafted layer upon layer, revealing a splendid mythological source, telling and retelling the tale of supernatural-mortal love. The kind that always seems to end in ruins.
Many of these terms are used in the lyrics of "Zoon."Nephilim: The Apocryphal race of giants spawned by the union of the Watchers and human women. "Nephilim" is a Hebrew word meaning "those who have fallen."
Zoon: New Latin, from Greek zOion; animal : zooid (spermatozoon)
Meriah: In Khond (Bengal, India) society, humans who were ritually sacrificed to ensure healthy crops, especially those of turmeric. The word itself may mean "scapegoat."
Malachi: Hebrew Mal'AkhI; used as the conventional name for the unidentified 5th century B.C. writer of the book of Malachi.
Hecate: Latin, from Greek HekatE; a Greek goddess associated especially with the underworld, night, and witchcraft.
Endymion: Latin, from Greek EndymiOn; a beautiful youth loved by Selene in Greek mythology
Ziarahs: Brilliant solar-reflector-topped towers instrumental in the dark angel-worship of the Yezidis.
Venus: Middle English, from Latin Vener-, Venus; the Roman goddess of love and beauty.
Pazuzu: A demon from Babylonian myth, sometimes called Zu, who stole the tablets of destiny from the dragoness Tiamat.
Hades: Greek HaidEs; the underground abode of the dead in Greek mythology.
Rise, rise, rise, rise......
"We shall crush you down to the point, where there is no coming back, things will happen to you from which you could not recover if you lived a thousand years, a thousand years."
"Feel I'm walking outside, circled around me are these faceless figures watching me, as if they are waiting for something to happen... then it happens."
"5 And all shall be smitten with fear
And the Watchers shall quake,
And great fear and trembling shall seize them unto the ends of the earth.
6 And the high mountains shall be shaken,
And the high hills shall be made low,
And shall melt like wax before the flame
7 And the earth shall be wholly rent in sunder,
And all that is upon the earth shall perish,
And there shall be a judgement upon all (men).
9 And behold! He cometh with ten thousands of His holy ones
To execute judgement upon all,
And to destroy all the ungodly:
And to convict all flesh
Of all the works of their ungodliness which they have ungodly committed,
And of all the hard things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him."
Upon first hearing the staggering violence of "Zoon," many Nefilim fans -- this one included -- didn't know how to adjust from the world of lush, ethereal melodies we'd come to know and love. It became clear from the start that "Zoon" was not an album about beauty, or of beauty -- at least not on the surface. Some people kept at it, trying to decipher lyric and meaning, but others -- like me -- put the album on the shelf, hoping it would be more palatable later, with time, and with patience.
It was actually Paula O'Keefe's essay that inspired me to try listening to it again. I find mythology irrestistable -- and I wanted to discover for myself whether I thought the album was retelling the Inanna myth. I began with the notion of the underworld journey; many albums are about this. About traversing the depths of the soul, and returning, transformed. It seemed possible -- even likely -- that "Zoon" described such a descent. But as I mentioned before, it wasn't until the Book of Enoch that I considered it might not be a descent from Earth to Hell, but rather a descent from Heaven to Earth.
Like many stories, "Zoon" begins with its ending, although there seems to be a double meaning here. At the end of the Enochian tale, the Watchers' fate is handed down by God -- they are sealed in a private tomb for eternity. Here we are given the "still life" painting of angels caught in an eternal coma, but also captured -- like a photograph -- in the moment before the tale begins. From the start they are also trapped outside of time, in Heaven, looking down upon Earth and Watching, but unable to make their mark upon the humans below.
Interestingly, a line from the Enoch story -- quoted above -- "And the high mountains shall be shaken," echoes almost perfectly a line from the Fields of the Nephilim epic, "Psychonaut:" "Let the mountain shake you to the core." That song was clearly a call to action, raising Leviathan and his Babylonian counterpart Tiamat -- giant undersea beings of immense power. "Zoon" seems, with every note and every line, to further that call.
"Then it happens..."
Exit rites, new altered states
Xodus - I feel reborn
Your memory and life
Morning comes as light
"If you are human, this is humanity"
Xodus - no place to run - meriahs impaled
Rise, rise, rise, rise...
"1 And it came to pass when the children of men had multiplied that in those
days were born unto them beautiful and comely daughters.
2 And the angels, the children of the heaven, saw and lusted after them, and said to one another: 'Come, let us choose us wives from among the children of men
3 and beget us children.' And Semjaza, who was their leader, said unto them: 'I fear ye will not
4 indeed agree to do this deed, and I alone shall have to pay the penalty of a great sin.' And they all answered him and said: 'Let us all swear an oath, and all bind ourselves by mutual imprecations
5 not to abandon this plan but to do this thing.' Then sware they all together and bound themselves
6 by mutual imprecations upon it. And they were in all two hundred; who descended in the days of Jared on the summit of Mount Hermon, and they called it Mount Hermon, because they had sworn
7 and bound themselves by mutual imprecations upon it. And these are the names of their leaders: Samlazaz, their leader, Araklba, Rameel, Kokablel, Tamlel, Ramlel, Danel, Ezeqeel, Baraqijal,
8 Asael, Armaros, Batarel, Ananel, Zaqiel, Samsapeel, Satarel, Turel, Jomjael, Sariel. These are their chiefs of tens. 1 And Azazel taught men to make swords, and knives, and shields, and breastplates, and made known to them the metals of the earth and the art of working them, and bracelets, and ornaments, and the use of antimony, and the beautifying of the eyelids, and all kinds of costly stones, and all
2 colouring tinctures. And there arose much godlessness, and they committed fornication, and they
3 were led astray, and became corrupt in all their ways. Semjaza taught enchantments, and root-cuttings, 'Armaros the resolving of enchantments, Baraqijal (taught) astrology, Kokabel the constellations, Ezeqeel the knowledge of the clouds, Araqiel the signs of the earth, Shamsiel the signs of the sun, and Sariel the course of the moon."
Here it is: the exodus from Heaven by no less than 200 angels, who make a beeline for the women. This is one place where I have taken the chapters of Enoch out of order, because I feel this whole process -- they descend, they take wives, they teach the humans about magic and science and war -- go hand in hand in McCoy's retelling.
"The Nephilim was something I'd known about since I was really young. If you're familiar with the first book of the Bible, Genesis, you see the sons of God seduce some of the women on the earth and they produce a race of people known as the Nephilim. According to legend they taught man about war, astrology, and magic. I'm fascinated by the idea," he told Cornerstone Magazine in 1989. (In Enoch, the angels don't begin to teach the men various skills until after the giants are born and begin wreaking destruction -- a course of events which makes no sense. Wouldn't people be fleeing for their lives?)
Another translation of the Enoch chapter above, from Richard Laurence, says the angels landed on "Ardis, which is the top of mount Armon," and that the angels' names were "Samyaza, who was their leader, Urakabarameel, Akibeel, Tamiel, Ramuel, Danel, Azkeel, Saraknyal, Asael, Armers, Batraal, Anane, Zavebe, Samsaveel, Ertael, Turel, Yomyael, Arazyal (who is, later in the same translation, called Azazyel)." "Mount Armon" is also called "Harmon" or "Hermon," as above. According to one web site, "Mt. Armon, or Mt. Hermon, derives its name from the Hebrew word 'herem,' a curse (Charles, p. 63)" According to Andrew Collins, this mountain is associated with the real Mount Hermon, located north of Palestine.
The song begins with a quick downward-spiral of drums followed by a jackhammer of guitars that clearly delineates the descent, perhaps a violent exit from Heaven, a sudden landing on Earth, or both. Although most don't think that angels descending from Heaven would be blinded by the light of Earth, remember: these are like souls being born into new bodies. (And the lyrics almost clearly state this: "New altered states," and later, "If you are human, this is humanity," and later still, "the rites of change.") When he sings "Morning comes as light/Burning out my eyes," I think of that line from the Matrix when Neo says, "Why do my eyes hurt?" and Morpheus replies, "Because you've never used them before."
"We'll always be together. Forever"
Shine - enlighten me - shine
My face now pressed against the glass
Shine - enlighten me - shine
"Shine like a mirror reflecting, like the sun shines -- something that comes from above, when all that remains falls below."
Bow before Hecate
In a fatal world,
And I'm not afraid, I'm not afraid
I will bring her down
I'm not afraid
I'm freezing, I'm waiting
The winter - the winter - the winter
She's here again
Be not afraid of the ways she brings
"I'm dreaming all night. All night."
"1 And all the others together with them took unto themselves wives, and each
chose for himself one, and they began to go in unto them and to defile
themselves with them, and they taught them charms
2 and enchantments, and the cutting of roots, and made them acquainted with plants."
This song was where I began to really get the sense that "Zoon" is told not from the perspective of an outside observer to this angelic descent, but rather from the perspective of one of the angels -- any one of them -- as he falls to Earth. And falls in love.
From the start, "Shine" seems so clearly a love song it almost didn't seem to fit in with the Enoch story -- or with the Inanna interpretation. I was driving home one night listening to the song and watching the full moon on the horizon thinking how perfectly the song would work as a moon-dedication song. A few days later, I was searching for information about Endymion -- who is mentioned in the next song -- and found a myth all too perfect. Endymion and Selene.
According to one web site, "Endymion was a beautiful shepherd boy of Asia Minor, the mortal lover of the moon goddess Selene. Each night he was kissed to sleep by her. She begged Zeus to grant him eternal life so she might be able to embrace him forever. Zeus complied, putting Endymion into eternal sleep and each night Selene visits him on Mt. Latmus, near Milete, in Asia Minor. The ancient Greeks believed that his grave was situated on this mountain. Selene and Endymion have fifty daughters."
The first objection here would be in terms of the role reversal -- our narrator in "Zoon" is clearly male, and an angel, and he's singing about a human women for whom he's fallen. In the myth, Endymion is the mortal male and Selene is the supernatural figure. McCoy has pulled a fabulous trick here, showing that our narrator is so humbled by his love for this woman, that both are transformed -- he the low creature, she the goddess. While he trembles in her love, and is nearly broken by it, he isn't afraid of her.
There is an element of fairy tale here -- the song opens with "Mirror, mirror" -- the famous lines from "Snow White." We also meet Hecate here, the dark queen of wisdom, sometimes seen as the crone, often found at the crossroads. In the triple aspect of the moon goddess, the waning moon is sometimes associated with the crone and with Hecate as well. The ancient witch queen in "Snow White" was the one who brought the poisoned apple to Snow White, putting her into an endless sleep. The decent into sleep, like the descent into the underworld, leaves winter behind; it did for Inanna. It did for Persephone. And Snow White's own chilly, wintry name suggests that perhaps her own endless sleep shall bring about winter. But this time Hecate has a different kind of winter -- a different kind of death -- up her sleeve. A different gift.
"In a fatal world, they're afraid of what she brings." As the angel and his human lover consummate their passion, something new is sparked, the seed of something dark and destructive -- the zygote of the terrible giants who will soon be born. "She's gonna reach for the hearts of all of you/And I know her eyes are true."
Hecate and the human lover become something of a double image as it becomes unclear which "she" he is singing to; the woman he loves becomes the bringer of death as the seed of the giant grows within her. But she is the cause of her own undoing as well, and the cause of his undoing as this web weaves ever more intricately.
Malachi is also mentioned; literally translated, "Malachi" means "my messenger." Perhaps his appearance is a harbinger of things to come; in the Book of Malachi, God instructs men about what is proper and improper sacrifice: "'When you bring blind animals for sacrifice, is that not wrong? When you sacrifice crippled or diseased animals, is that not wrong? Try offering them to your governor! Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept you?' says the LORD Almighty." -- "Bow before Hecate/Man of fortune/Man of shame/She's gonna reach for the hearts of all of you." If you don't obey, there will be dire consequences. In consummating their love, the angels and humans have sinned -- and their actions will bring about the first Armageddon.
Secondly, the world "malachi" is often a euphemism for "angel." Andrew Collins writes, "Angels gain their name from the word angelos, the Greek rendition of the Hebrew word mal'akh, meaning 'messenger,' since they act as mediators between God and humanity."
"Seeing things in my whole life, images exploding. You have been chosen."
"We are free."
Endemion - magical son
"What's happening is real. You can't stop them. What do you think, we just go on forever?"
Ziarahs are all burning ahead
Penetrating deep - generating me
We must go back now
"Repeat: we have confirmed angel touchdown. The place is completely ablaze of fire. It's like hell down here. I think we're going straight for the fucking light."
3 became pregnant, and they bare great giants, whose height was three thousand ells: Who consumed
4 all the acquisitions of men. And when men could no longer sustain them, the giants turned against
5 them and devoured mankind. And they began to sin against birds, and beasts, and reptiles, and
6 fish, and to devour one another's flesh, and drink the blood. Then the earth laid accusation against the lawless ones."
... And all Hell breaks loose
The Nephilim are born, and they are destruction personified. They are "shining like gods," the "new body, new blood" of the love between the angels and human women. Their violence seems uncontainable, uncontrollable -- like a fire in the soul which cannot be quenched. The "magical sons" first turn against the humans -- including their own mothers -- leaving a path of destruction and chaos in their wake.
(It's also worth noting that the "ziarahs" McCoy mentions are defined (albeit a bit proprietarily) by Anton LaVey in his book "Satanic Rituals:" "From Mount Lalesh near the ancient city of Nineveh, the Yezidi empire stretched in an invisible band approximately three hundred miles wide to the Mediterranean junction of Turkey and Syria on one end, and the mountains of the Caucasus in Russia on the other. At intervals along this strip were seven towers - the Towers of Satan (Ziarahs) - six of them trapezoidal in form and the seventh, on Mount Lalesh, shaped like a sharp, fluted point. Each tower was topped by a brilliant heliographic reflector, and was intended to serve as a 'power house' from which a magician could beam his will to the 'descendants of Adam' and influence human events in the outside world. Like the Watchers, the fallen angels of the Book of Enoch, the Yezidis claimed to be the descendants of Azazel." It's also worth noting that the Yezidis do not worship Satan; they worship Malak Tawus, the Peacock Angel, a spiritual brother to the Watchers.)
The birth of the giants brings out the meaning behind the album's title. O'Keefe writes: "Zoon; from the Greek zoion, 'animal,' as in zoology and zodiac. A creature produced from a single egg. Its plural is zoa: ZO-ah. More precisely: a zoon (pronounced ZOH-on) is 'one of the perfectly developed individuals of a compound animal; the asexually produced progeny of a sexually produced individual.'" Although the Nephilim are sometimes identified as all male, they are without doubt all one gender; hence, asexual. They, themselves, are the Zoon of which McCoy speaks.
It has occurred to me, although it is not written anywhere explicitly in Enoch, that perhaps the simple act of giving birth to the giants may have killed many of the women. In many myths, and especially in horror tales, a woman who gives birth to a child who is part-demon or part-supernatural creature of any kind, she usually dies in childbirth, or is brought very near death. Given that, and the size of these beings, it would be impossible for a human woman to survive such an ordeal. I am hesitant to use this possibility as a translation for what we see in "Penetration" and "Melt," but it certainly seems plausible.
Our narrator begins to regret; he sees what his love has done and insists that the angels turn back from their course. "We must go back now... I can't look in, and I can't look back." But then he acknowledges that nothing can be done. "We cannot stop, no."
As she crawls from my hands
Oh forgive me
Now have your place with god
Of the passions that see and destroy us
Melting, just melt away
There's a stillness
Melting, Melting away.....
In a way, "Melt" is another love song; our narrator goes to find his human
love, but when he discovers her, the Nephilim have already found her; she is
dying, nearly dead. He prays over her: "Now have your place with god...
innocence can be Hell" and at the same time is appalled at what he has done:
"Matter... blood... Oh, forgive me."
"Melt" can be seen as a meditation on how passion and lust can turn on those who wield it carelessly; certainly the Book of Enoch felt that way. In their eyes, the love between humans and angels is strictly forbidden and leads to the first Armadeddon -- the flood. In lyrics no less than poetry McCoy retells the crux of this message: "Of the passions that see and destroy us/This subtle fire, this secret flame/Torture by desire/Transformation from flesh to spirit."
As he watches her die, he feels a profound sadness. There is a stillness, and a light -- a place he cannot go himself -- and then she lets go.
Although the idea that this album is a tale not just about a mythological destruction of the earth that took place ages ago, but is also about our modern destruction of the planet, does not really arise until we came to "Venus" and "Pazuzu," there are certainly signs that this could be a song about Mother Earth as well and how our actions have laid her to waste. Food for thought.
As on 'Shine,' here the musicians lower their weapons, giving way to eerie, dark shimmers of sound. We hear a woman's breathing in the beginning, labored and shallow; the bass guitar snakes through the darkness. McCoy himself cries out in a foreign tongue before whispering the lyrics. In the background, a beep like a heart monitor fades in and out. The woman begins to cry out in pain; McCoy's voice begs for forgiveness. The instrumentation builds slowly, but never completely lets loose with the pain and anguish it suggests.
"Forgive me as I have become the trail of mutilation towards destruction, evil for all. We the arbitrary souls of our own temple -- need nobody as we reach out and hold your breath of life."
Who has sent an angel for our requiem
"She's a liar."
Wide awake - reaching for the light
Fear is losing control
As the womb grows colder - sufferer
No invocation called me
My words - dead to the world
Venus was decomposing
Fear is losing control
"1 And then Michael, Uriel, Raphael, and Gabriel looked down from heaven and
saw much blood being
2 shed upon the earth, and all lawlessness being wrought upon the earth. And they said one to another: 'The earth made without inhabitant cries the voice of their cryingst up to the gates of heaven.
3 And now to you, the holy ones of heaven, the souls of men make their suit, saying, "Bring our cause
4 before the Most High."' And they said to the Lord of the ages: 'Lord of lords, God of gods, King of kings, and God of the ages, the throne of Thy glory (standeth) unto all the generations of the
5 ages, and Thy name holy and glorious and blessed unto all the ages! Thou hast made all things, and power over all things hast Thou: and all things are naked and open in Thy sight, and Thou seest all
6 things, and nothing can hide itself from Thee. Thou seest what Azazel hath done, who hath taught all unrighteousness on earth and revealed the eternal secrets which were (preserved) in heaven, which
7 men were striving to learn: And Semjaza, to whom Thou hast given authority to bear rule over his associates. And they have gone to the daughters of men upon the earth, and have slept with the
9 women, and have defiled themselves, and revealed to them all kinds of sins. And the women have
10 borne giants, and the whole earth has thereby been filled with blood and unrighteousness. And now, behold, the souls of those who have died are crying and making their suit to the gates of heaven, and their lamentations have ascended: and cannot cease because of the lawless deeds which are
11 wrought on the earth. And Thou knowest all things before they come to pass, and Thou seest these things and Thou dost suffer them, and Thou dost not say to us what we are to do to them in regard to these.'"
The Nephilims' destruction has finally gotten to the point that those in Heaven are beginning to take notice. The "slaughter house religion" that has overtaken Earth is appalling to those above -- and to the angels still on earth, whose entire reason for descending to the planet has been wiped out as a result of their actions. It has become a place of "evil for all" -- a hallucination of Hell itself. The lines from "Melt" are mocked -- "forgive me..." he says. "She feels... still warm." But then he punishes himself for what has been done, and he knows she was dead from the moment he laid eyes on her: "As I reached her from inside/Love could have killed her just the same." But it is all an act of futility in the end, and forgiveness will not be his: "My words/dead to the world."
Love itself breaks down as Venus decomposes.
This song also suggests other levels to the meaning of the myth; there are times throughout the album where it sounds like McCoy is not only retelling a story of past world destruction, but suggests that it is happening again, right now, on the planet. Earth herself is slowly destroyed by the actions of human beings -- whether it be pollution and greed or development, or war, or hatefulness towards one another. There seems to be a clear double meaning to the message, that what happened before can happen again as the "giants" of industry chew up everything in their path. This thought continues in "Pazuzu."
The sound of sirens throughout the song, with all its chaos and bludgeoning melody, is a suggestive touch.
"This generation shall not pass. This is the last man."
This generation shall not pass
Black is the rain
Black rain let it come now
On this eaten heart - our crucifier
Seasons have decayed now
"Look into the eyes of your creator."
"They stood him before a mirror. He was emaciated and covered with wounds, his back was bent, his hair was gone. There was not a single depravation he had not known."
The bending of minds
Still falls the rain
"As the fourteen hundred and forty nails upon the cross, you are destroyed in the name of my savior."
Look into the eyes of your creator
Rain it eats the heart
In screams of pain we're born
Still the rain it falls
Stoop not down to
"1 Then said the Most High, the Holy and Great One spake, and sent Uriel to
the son of Lamech,
2 and said to him: Go to Noah and tell him in my name "Hide thyself!" and reveal to him the end that is approaching: that the whole earth will be destroyed, and a deluge is about to come
3 upon the whole earth, and will destroy all that is on it."
"Venus" ends -- and "Pazuzu" begins -- with the sounds of hymns, gasping, buzzing and churchlike swells of synthesizer, which fall away to the opening guitar wails of "Pazuzu" and the chant "This generation shall not pass." We are clearly in the presence of something higher, God himself, come to lay waste to what has become an abomination. That chant is taken from a passage in Matthew 24:33-35: "So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know thatt it is near, even at the doors. Verily I say unto you, 'This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.'" These verses refer to the generation of Christians who will witness the signs that point to the apocalypse and the Second Coming.
But God's wrath comes first in the form of the demon Pazuzu -- who, according to Patricia O'Keefe is the only demon to ever be featured in a major motion picture (he is the demon who stands face to face with the elder minister in the beginning of "The Exorcist"). Not much is known about Pazuzu -- or Zu, as he is sometimes called. According to one web site, "This little-known demon from Babylonian myth was represented as a very thin, emaciated man with the feet and wings of an eagle, and the forepaws and head of a lion. He is nearly always shown with the right paw raised and the left held at his side.
"The demon first appeared in early Babylonian myth in the guise of the "storm-bird" Zu, who stole the Tablets of Destiny from the dragoness Tiamat. In the later Babylonian civilization, he once again appeared, this time under the name of Pazuzu, and was said to be the child of the chief wind-demon, Hanpa. When Pazuzu is summoned by worshippers, he appears in a statuesque form, frozen into the position described above. However, he metamorphoses out of the statue form to his living form. In this form, he is fully capable of movement."
Curiously, the Yezidi tribes of Kurdistan, who worship a Watcherlike god called Malek Taus, or the Peacock Angel, tell a very similar story to the one about Zu and Tiamat. In their mythology, a creature -- who is half-lion, half-eagle -- called Imdugud, or Anzu. "This monster was said to have stolen the Tablets of Destiny from the god Enlil (Ellil) in Akkadian which, in its possession, gave 'him power over the Universe as controller of the fates of all,' enough to endanger 'the stability of civilization,'" Collins writes.
Perhaps Zu is Anzu; but certainly Enlil, the kingly god of the Sumerian people, is not cognate with Tiamat. Still, the double vision -- of a half-lion, half-eagle demon who steals the tablets of destiny -- speaks doubly to the fate of the civilization we witness on "Zoon."
It may be important to point out here that the Tiamat-Leviathan-Cthulu corollary has always been important to McCoy; he's been summoning the undersea beast Cthulu (and calling this traditionally male character "she" from the outside) since early Neph recordings. Leviathan is mentioned in "Psychonaut" but Tiamat is the original. She was seen by the Babylonians as the divine mother, the creator, Mother Earth. Some say she is the "salt waters of creation," thus uniting her with the sea; others say she is the earth itself. Her relationship to Pazuzu only makes the song more complex; Pazuzu is a winged creature who steals destiny from the creator. McCoy seems to draw a clear comparison between his tale and the tale of the Watchers.
Interestingly, images of Pazuzu can still be found in Kuwait, not far from where the original Babylon was situated, in the Tigris-Euphrates valley of what is now Iraq.
Another site gives some hint as to Pazuzu's nature, and why he might appear on "Zoon:" "Pazuzu dwelt in dark, hot arid places and was a nasty, sexy, demonic entity, probably used as a primitive bogey man to frighten children at night: 'If you're not good, I'll send for Pazuzu.' But basically, Pazuzu was probably a destroyer who came to strike blight into lush places and into people's hearts." However, the image of Pazuzu is also the enemy of the Lamashtu demon, who is the bringer of sickness, especially to women and children -- an image of him on an amulet is strong protection, especially for women in childbirth.
So is Pazuzu meant to protect the women in this tale? Protect their childbirth and their children? Or is he an avenger? Or is he a metaphor for what we've been observing since the beginning of the story? Perhaps all of these are possible.
Pazuzu's description as an emaciated man is reinforced in the quote toward the end of the song: "They stood him before a mirror. He was emaciated and covered with wounds, his back was bent, his hair was gone. There was not a single depravation he had not known."
The "black rain" of the story falls, and falls, and falls, bringing about the flood waters. In Enoch there is clear reference to Noah, and making sure Noah gets away before the destruction begins. We know from the Bible that Noah and his wife -- and the animals they took with them -- were the only ones to survive this onslaught.
And again there is an undercurrent of criticism for this modern world, this time pointed at the religious world: "In a world of fucking hypocrites and liars/Man made God/Sorrow for Satan and priests like dogs/No one here remembers the bending of our minds/Pray for today/Tomorrow you die." Christianity is clearly brought to bear for the mess we're in today -- where humans are nothing but low, dumb, broken creatures. McCoy calls us back to the time when we were awake and alive in our minds and bodies -- a message he's spent the past decade weaving into his music.
The destruction of the humans and giants -- for the sake of humankind no less -- is held as a metaphor for the hypocrisy of modern-day religion: "As the fourteen hundred and forty nails upon the cross, you are destroyed in the name of my savior." The angels turn against their own kind, the ones in Heaven tattling to God about what the ones on Earth are doing. Just as humans on earth turn against one another, each condemning the other for his actions. Using religion to justify actions of hatred and destruction. And so it goes...
And as the rain continues, the world grows darker and darker. We flash on the Nephilim momentarily -- this is the first time McCoy has ever called them by name. He then quotes a line from the Chaldean Oracles of Zoroaster -- "Stoop not down to the dark-infested world" -- as the world is slowly enveloped in chaos, darkness and disorder, becoming "unluminous formless and void" -- as it was when it was first made. And so it shall be remade.
Zoon I & II
I've been waiting for you
I'm here with you, you know
Sleep, sleep, sleep...
"Tune your mind, reach inside, peel away. Come on, show me. Touch, Taste, Feel, Saturation."
Only false dreams awaken
Tune your mind
Touch, Taste, Feel
The look of pain
Enter my realm
As we begin the end
We live together, forever
And we're here again
What's your pleasure
This is hell this is
In my world
You're lost, so lost
"And again the Lord said to Raphael: Bind Azazel hand and
foot, and cast him into the darkness: and make an opening
5 in the desert, which is in Dudael, and cast him therein. And place upon him rough and jagged rocks, and cover him with darkness, and let him abide there for ever, and cover his face that he may
6,7 not see light. And on the day of the great judgement he shall be cast into the fire. And heal the earth which the angels have corrupted, and proclaim the healing of the earth, that they may heal the plague, and that all the children of men may not perish through all the secret things that the
8 Watchers have disclosed and have taught their sons. And the whole earth has been corrupted
9 through the works that were taught by Azazel: to him ascribe all sin. And to Gabriel said the Lord: Proceed against the bastards and the reprobates, and against the children of fornication: and destroy [the children of fornication and] the children of the Watchers from amongst men [and cause them to go forth]: send them one against the other that they may destroy each other in
10 battle: for length of days shall they not have. And no request that they (i.e. their fathers) make of thee shall be granted unto their fathers on their behalf; for they hope to live an eternal life, and
11 that each one of them will live five hundred years. And the Lord said unto Michael: Go, bind Semjaza and his associates who have united themselves with women so as to have defiled themselves
12 with them in all their uncleanness."
Alone in the darkness, a single guitar shimmers and glistens like a faint star. Everything is quiet and still, and the void is omniscient. "Zoon" is the beginning of the end, the union of all that came undone, the creation of a new creature altogether.
Part I is a kind of reunion; but in the darkness, we cannot know for sure who is reunited. The angels are bound together in the void, in the silence; the angels are also returned to God. But are the souls of the men and women who commingled with the angels -- either in lust or in learning -- here with them, suffering the same punishment? That is less clear. The subtitle, "saturation" is suggestive; saturated in darkness, in sorrow, in nothingness, in punishment, in regret, in loss.
And yet a love remains constant here. "I'm here with you, you know -- no need to hide. Lay your head in mine. Just close your eyes." There is a sense of trust and togetherness, reunion, peace. But by the next verse McCoy's voice transforms from soft and melodic to a low, demonic growl as the guitars hammer in: "You even know my name, but it will never, ever be the same... I'm always with you when you fall asleep."
My sense is that these songs are God speaking directly to the Watchers, almost as a father would to sons who have disappointed him beyond belief. There is the sound of hydraulic machinery, chanting in an unknown language, distant thunder, and McCoy repeats a word -- is it "sleep" or "slave?" Or both?
The narrator -- God? -- continues to torment his subject, insulting and berating him, showing his power over the other: "I blind you like the sun... you only feel me tear you apart. You only fear you were dead from the start. You're lost for life." The Watchers are not only banished to the void for eternity, but they must live with the knowledge that they are nothing; they were created and they can be destroyed. Destroyed from within, by their own anguish and inner torment.
By the end of Part II the music has reached a pummeling peak, then descends in silvery chords into near-silence. There's a shiver, a hum, almost electrical -- then a slow, steady heartbeat, echoed by the bass. This is the true ending, the beginning of the healing process and the acceptance of a fate handed down. The reunion is complete: "We live together, forever. Every breath that you will take I'll breathe."
And yet, there's a spirit of hope: "I will live again until it hurts to be me. My name, my face, my spirit. Now leave me. Now go." One wonders who is lost for eternity -- and who remains.
"Is there an end to the coma?
their sons have slain one another, and they have seen the destruction of
their beloved ones, bind them fast
for seventy generations in the valleys of the earth, till the day of their
judgement and of their
consummation, till the judgement that is
13 for ever and ever is consummated. In those days they shall be led off to the abyss of fire: and
14 to the torment and the prison in which they shall be confined for ever. And whosoever shall be condemned and destroyed will from thenceforth be bound together with them to the end of all
15 generations. And destroy all the spirits of the reprobate and the children of the Watchers, because
16 they have wronged mankind. Destroy all wrong from the face of the earth and let every evil work come to an end: and let the plant of righteousness and truth appear: and it shall prove a blessing; the works of righteousness and truth shall be planted in truth and joy for evermore."
There are almost no lyrics to "Coma;" just these few lines, which emerge out of a confusion of voices and chanting. Then out of the chaos comes lines of English, asking for the wake-up call, feeling the pain of the end and of the beginning again. These lines echo words from the first Enochian Call, which (in its English translation) includes the line, "Moreouer you lifted vp your voyces and sware [obedience and faith to him that liueth and triumpheth] whose begynning is not, nor ende can not be, which shyneth as a flame in the myddst of your pallace, and rayngneth amongst you as the ballance of righteousnes and truth." (Emphasis mine) This song is about the eternal silence that follows God's punishment of the watchers (and it is surely no mistake that the cover of "Zoon" bears the image of Aleister Crowley, dressed in ritual robes and making the Harpocrates sign of silence).
What follows is a series of industrial noises; a throbbing hum, the sound of gears turning, electrical buzzing, footsteps; then a door slams, echoing into eternity. The door is shut on the disobedient Watchers, and their endless coma begins. Like Leviathan and Cthulu they are trapped, kept away from humanity, eternally asleep, "dead but dreaming." Like Endymion they can never awaken, although no loving light falls upon their restful faces. For them, there is no peace.