Mare Cognitum - Luminiferous Aether - (9/10)
Published on September 17, 2016
Formed just five years ago, California’s Mare Cognitum has made quite a name for itself. Sole member Jacob Buczarski has already lent his talent to three full-lengths and a couple of splits, proving to be quite prolific in a fairly short amount of time. Adding to this, is the newest full-length of the project, entitled Luminiferous Aether, being released by the excellent I, Voidhanger Records. A lot of the Mare Cognitum sound is there, with some very intense black metal, while still keeping plenty of great atmosphere and spacey sounding arrangements.
The album begins with a mostly atmospheric and laid back track, which works both as an intro and an overall song. The flow of the track is great – creating some fantastic atmosphere and making the album feel very light, with some great melody and emotive guitar work. This however leads into the latter tracks, which are heavier and faster, and but also manage to keep the brighter tone. Musically, the album still feels very bright in a lot of ways, but the blast beats and cold riffing underneath the screaming vocals are able to come off as aggressive, which is a great dynamic of the band. The interplay between the softer and heavier parts is great, while still getting to keep the overall feeling of something cosmic alive. The vocals are drenched in echo, which helps the music portray that space-like feeling well.
Each track flows wonderfully from one to another, and never seems to fall into any predictable pattern. There is definitely an underlying theme in the music of Mare Cognitum and this album for sure, but each track is able to stand on its own legs, and showcase the great songwriting as well as technical ability of Jacob. The melodies come in at the right time, making the album feel very uplifting when needed, but the aggressive aspects come across like a meteor shower or getting drawn near a black hole. There is a certain weight being felt that is lifted and done away with at other times. The fact that these songs are able to create such strong emotion in the listener is admirable at least, and inspiring at best. The production does an excellent job helping with the feeling the album is creating too, as there is just enough rawness going on to make the album feel natural, but everything is still clear, while sounding like its an audible version of being shrouded in mist. There is just something not quite upfront and directly visible, but you can still make everything out, which makes the record feel comforting but still a mystery. All in all though, all of these elements come to gather to create a very atmospheric and intense black metal experience.
While Mare Cognitum have a few albums under its belt, the project got a lot of recognition after it’s last release, the great Phobos Monolith. Where that album left off, Luminiferous Aether picks up. This is not a totally new bad, or one that feels like its resting on any laurels. Jacob has clearly put time and care into his music, and it shows with each moment of the release. From the opening seconds to the closing note, there is such emotion and triumph being felt. There were going to be a lot of ears on this new release after the high praise of the prior full-length, and there is no disappointment here to be found. Continuing down a path of technicality, aggression, beauty and serenity, Mare Cognitum is proving each time out to be a consistent and top notch project in the genre, and one that deserved a lot of attention.