Tearstained - _Monumental in its Sorrow_
(Barbarian Wrath, 2005)
by: T. DePalma (7 out of 10)
There are several moments on this disc that I find myself constantly returning to, finding it easier to absolve much of the album from its conspicuous and often risible caricatures. Tearstained, like so many others on Barbarian Wrath's roster, execute their sound with the most honest intentions, and genuine care in seeing that it's achieved with the greatest performance possible under available conditions, at times becoming emblematic of a genre's decline.

This reissue of part one of the "Suicide Trilogy" remains the best offering from Tearstained's creator, Mikael Bayusik, while still being an acquired taste. An unabashed mix of early Bathory and Mercyful Fate with melodies akin to early darkwave fixtures, the music serves to skillfully invert the core angst and theatrics of those influences into a morose narrative of choppy riffs and wan falsettos, glowing with a light dose of keyboards in a dungeon of Roger Corman-like aesthetics. It's campy, but no more than those it intends on copying, and copy it does. Although a large number of patterns emerge from that aggrieved voice, having already been plied in excess on _Don't Break the Oath_, there are other accents and exchanges between clean and pathetic moans to fit the music's somewhat unique category (I think he actually cries at one point, just plain cries). To this end, the songwriting itself is a tad unbalanced and often over-stretched to the point where the thematic partially withers from style to style, filled with too generic thrashy bits all courtesy of budget-recording devices, which otherwise gives the album an intimacy beneficial to its objectives. (Interestingly, Tearstained's later work is not significantly altered as production quality increases.)

There is nothing quite as musically profound in this series as the opening bass line during "The End of This Incarnation"; its vexed, slouching mood from note to note derailing the would-be jaunty tempo and setting the tone for the album before the first appearance of anything remotely in the vein of King or Quorthon works its way into the fold. For the cult collectors and slightly adventurous among you, there is more here than studied imitation.

This new edition comes packaged with new cover art and features four bonus tracks comprised of two new songs (different as night and day, one with a purposeful Czech influence) and covers of "Equimanthorn" and "For Whom the Bell Tolls", the latter being impossible to enjoy in the context of style matched with particularly awful sound quality.

Contact: http://www.angelfire.com/ego/mikael/Tear.html

(article published 22/2/2006)

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