CD Review

Mephisto Walz – “Insidious”

By Ray Van Horn, Jr.

InisidiousYou’ve heard this album before, or should I say albums. Certainly not meant as an insult, but Mephisto Walz’s extremely retro sound will either comfort you or tick you off if you’re a purist. Mephisto Walz lassos in a brooding who’s who of influences and pulls it off rather well, capturing some of the gloomier elements of eighties alternative, a combination of Joy Division, early Psychedelic Furs, Siouxsie Sioux and Cocteau Twins.

The first three tracks, A Magic Bag, Our Flesh and Watching from the Darkest Places chug and drone with the Psychedelic Furs and to a lesser extent, Talk Talk Talk era Furs, as well as Closer period Joy Division. The duo of Bari Bari, otherwise known as Christian Death’s Barry Galvin, and Christiana obviously cling to the eighties alternative scene as if expecting the out-of-nowhere return of MTV’s 120 Minutes any day now. Why not? They resurrected Headbangers Ball!

Before These Crimes feels like Lush with a melancholy calypso tempo. On the other hand, the following song, One Less Day, while maintaining a slow pace changes from low key to a more vibrant and poignant airiness. Very much in line with what made Cocteau Twins such an underground favorite. The song really takes flight on the bridge and with some sort of airplay could be a signature song for this duo.

I Want snarls forth in tandem with The Top-era Cure, even sounding like Souixsie Sioux with its snidely gimme-gimme aura. Nonetheless, the song grooves with a blackened seduction even with the ear-splitting dénouement. Staying in Souixsie Sioux mode, Witches Gold burns along with an acoustic base that sets up a grinding sonic finish.

Memories Kill and Nightingale tinker with conflicting musical emotions, particularly the latter song, which glides slight pop brushstrokes on the chorus; the song is perhaps reminiscent of The Church as it is mid-career Psychedelic Furs.

The true kicker of Insidious comes on the marvelous Ombra Mai Fu, a breathtaking moment of opera, complete with full orchestration. Christiana unleashes her absolute vocal potential, and together the effect is nothing short of shattering. Where in the world? you’ll undoubtedly ask.

Mephisto Walz is doing a rather good thing, if you ask me. I got my heavy metal world of the eighties restored to me, for better or worse, and with groups like Mephisto Walz I can also relive my college years spent in late-blooming absorption of Violent Femmes, Depeche Mode and Echo and the Bunnymen. Some good memories are associated with those groups. Nice to have to have them back in whatever incarnation.

Contact Information:
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