Barry Galvin (aka Bari-Bari; guitars, bass, keyboards), David Glass (drums) and Johann Schumann (bass) played in Christian Death in the first half of the ’80s (Glass even longer); in the following decade, enlisting a vocalist aptly named Christianna, they formed Mephisto Walz, a band that has little in common with their past gothic lives. The material on Terra Regina is ambient and almost new agey, something along the lines of what might happen if Enya wrote an album while feeling really moody. The pretty, languid sound of “Umbrea” and “The Starveling” quickly turns ponderous when applied to such weaker songs as “A Gathering of Elementals” and “Am Sonntag.” The faster-paced “In the Room That Love Exists” and “Protecteur” (in which Christianna sounds remarkably like Berlin’s Terri Nunn) inject some much-needed energy into the routine, preventing Terra Regina from sinking under its own murky layers.
The Eternal Deep‘s material is far more structured, as well as more animated; no aimless experimentation bogs things down until the very last track, the weirdly pulsating “Aborigine Requiem.” The band goes a little overboard with this new-found zeal on “Der Sack,” but The Eternal Deep marks a promising turn towards better songwriting. Meanwhile, covers of the Stooges’ “I Wanna Be Your Dog” and the Rolling Stones’ “Paint It, Black” are distorted nearly beyond recognition.
Thalia strikes an uneven compromise between the debut’s lavish meanderings and The Eternal Deep‘s fervent excitability. The intriguing woozy lilt of “Mephisto Walz” makes it fit to be played at a ghostly masquerade ball. The quivering and skipping “No Way Out” is another standout, as is an echo-laden cover of Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit.” On the other hand, there’s the inexcusable self-indulgence of noodly instrumentals like “A Precession of the Equinoxes” and the amelodic “Aglaia at Auroras.”