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Continuing The Traditions. - 75%

Perplexed_Sjel, November 18th, 2009

Back on to the topic of Tearstained and Michael Bayusik’s detailed career which spans back to the early to mid-1990’s. As I have previously stated, I’m not familiar with Michael’s career in its entirety. I have full-lengths from several of his projects including; Into The Sunless Meridian, Night Conquers Day and this one man effort, Tearstained. Besides these three prominent figures in my collection, his other projects, such as Buried Beneath and Shadowcaster have gone unnoticed until I decided to actively seek out his works. So far, I have been relatively unsuccessful at finding the obscure material from these bands but, on the basis of what I do have, I imagine these solo projects of his would amount to the same conclusion as, for example, Tearstained. I have come to this conclusion because, even when he is playing as part of a band with more members than just himself, all of the projects he is involved with sound similar. From the heavily influenced keyboard sections of Night Conquers Day, to this manifestation of ideas, all of his projects take aboard similar methods, routines and, generally speaking, mostly come to the same conclusion. There aren’t many differences to speak of between Tearstained and the other projects so, if you’re familiar with any other Bayusik creation, you’re undoubtedly going to understand what will come of projects such as this one.

Despite this, there are small details which have been altered from record to record which, in the grand scheme of things, don’t make the biggest difference, but for those searching hard for even the most minor element of individuality between the records, well, these small factors may become important. For instance, ‘There Is No Hope’, the sophomore full-length from the New York based Tearstained, tends to serve small variations in terms of the levels of distortion, the production and inconsequential differences in the instrumentation. Unlike the immense Night Conquers Day, Bayusik decides not to heavily invest in soundscapes that become reliant on keyboards. Whilst keyboards are used and whilst they do juice up the soundscapes, offering a more symphonic touch to the textured material, they’re much more sparse than they would be during a typical Night Conquers Day epic. Personally, I would have preferred a much more integral usage of keyboards, since that element actually benefited the soundscapes on previous Bayusik efforts, but it is not to be. ‘There Is No Hope’ tends to be more guitar and vocal driven than ‘Monumental In Its Sorrow’, though it does include an audible bass section despite the heavier style in regards to the levels of distortion Bayusik affords to the guitars.

One thing has always stuck with me despite the fact that Bayusik manages to create several similar sounding bands under different names and that is the fact that, no matter how similar they might be, he is incredibly talented at generating guitar riffs that linger in the mind for long periods of time afterwards. He is a distinctive and skilled song writer. This shows just as much on this sophomore effort as it did on the debut and, if anything, the song writing is improving with time as the bands discography expands. ‘There Is No Hope’ was actually written between 1995 and 2000, so this explains immediately why the debut and sophomore are akin to one another in most ways possible, bar the heavier tones on this record. Bayusik, as stated, is a gifted song writer and has bags full of potential, particularly in his magical voice. His talents clearly lie in the areas of the bass, guitar and vocal departments. The drumming here isn’t sub standard, nor is it at any stage of the Tearstained career, but it doesn’t offer the same textual benefits, or create the most diverse elements of the record, or indeed the band. At times, the double bass does sound rather flat, as songs like ‘Commit Suicide’ share.

The addition of keyboards and unique vocals save songs like this from becoming a complete disaster because, though Bayusik is talented, he has a habit of churning out the occasional oven fodder song here or there. As with previous records, there are a few main talking points which require discussions as they’re integral to the odd sound of Tearstained. Bayusik, who usually provides vocals for all of his bands, has a multi-purpose voice. It tends to suit most styles of music, though Tearstained generally stay within the same circles. His voice turns from ugly rasp to elevated high pitched shrieks as if they were coming from the deranged mind of a banshee. I imagine his vocals, when high pitched, would generate mixed feelings in most people. I think it would be easy to either fall in love with them, or hate them as they do tend to dominate every song from beginning to end. Personally, I think they have the growing affect whereby the more you hear them, the more you become accustomed to their eccentric style. Considering some folk consider this band to be, even if it’s only partially, a depressive black metal band, we should recognise that this scene has seen its fair share of eccentric vocals over the years.

For example, Nattramn. Shrieks, howls, rasps, they’ve all been covered and are all covered in one continuous movement by the enigmatic Bayusik. Songs like ‘My Open Grave’, particularly the introduction with the clean instrumentation, really does build up a feeling of depressive music. Timidly evolving, Tearstained don’t stay restricted to one style and move swiftly onwards and on to unusual paths as the vocals begin to transform at every given opportunity. In my humble opinion, I believe this sophomore effort to be just as good as the debut overall. Areas of it can be mixed - such as the increased presence of distortion and lacklustre filler songs like ‘Commit Suicide’ - whilst others are downright brilliant - for example, though the production does suffer a bit from the increased distortion, the bass is still visible and the keyboards, though subtle and sparse, can still be felt from a distance - with the inclusion of the song ‘My Open Grave’. With two covers of popular bands like Bathory and King Diamond, Tearstained might have what it takes to become a bigger hit.