Mare Cognitum – Luminiferous Aether (2016)

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Author: Crono
Artist: Mare Cognitum
Album: Luminiferous Aether
Label: I, Voidhanger Records

Mare Cognitum is a band that has been around for a little bit and is fairly well known within the atmospheric black metal scene. It’s the creation of Jacob Buczarski from California, and he writes and records all the music himself. Now, one-man black metal bands are not new, and the frequency that Mare Cognitum releases music is not new either, but the quality of each release is something to behold. I don’t think Jacob has ever released a song that he isn’t completely satisfied lives up to his amazing standard. Luminiferous Aether is the band’s fourth album and continues this trend of extremely high quality music.

Mare Cognitum plays a style of music that can easily be called space black metal. I’ve mentioned this theme of space often before, because it’s quite popular in the black metal and I also like it a lot. The “space” part doesn’t really mean anything, since it isn’t a very musically descriptive word, but the main purpose of the music is to sound epic, distant, and impressive. Mare Cognitum does this with long songs, ranging around the eight to twelve minute marks, multiple layers of instrumentation happening almost always, including big booming drums, slow synths, and guitars either playing extremely fast or running away with a solo. Everything on Luminiferous Aether sounds grand in scope.

The album starts off with “Heliacal Rising,” which sets the perfect tone for the album. It’s a slower song, one of the few released by Mare Cognitum, but it is meant to impress upon the listener a sense of the big picture that is being drawn. It’s got slow synths and the occasional lengthy black metal scream. It might not be the most exciting song on the album, but I think it’s a great choice to get you into the right mind-frame.

After the slow opener, Luminiferous Aether sets off to once again demonstrate that Jacob Buczarski is one of the most talented multi-instrumentalist musicians making black metal these days. The songs are set at a breakneck pace, with drums clashing away and guitars constantly tremolo picking. Against this cacophony of sound, you would think there is no room to add subtlety, but the way the band seamlessly blends in solos from other guitars, introduces new synth melodies, or even shifts the tempo of the song, sometimes in big ways and sometimes just slightly. Every song on this album is a roller coaster ride, each new moment potentially holding the next exciting riff or mind-blowing moment of pure grandeur.

The second-last song on album was one that I want to specifically mention, it’s called “Occultated Temporal Dimensions.” This song was the first released and I was very excited to hear what Mare Cognitum held for us on this album. However, I was a little shocked when I listened to it for the first few times. The song was far more heavy and aggressive than I was expecting. Mare Cognitum normally plays fast and it is black metal, but the mood is more positive. This song, on the other hand, has crunchy, raw guitars and stabbing blast beats. It even features deeper, more demonic vocals layered with the normal vocals. It is the heaviest and most aggressive song that Mare Cognitum has released so far. Listening to it as a promo for the album, I was worried that the band was changing its sound for something less epic and more furious and uncontrolled.

Of course, that did not hold true. “Occultated Temporal Dimensions” is the only song that reaches this level of extremity. Once I had a chance to listen to the album, I love this song. It fits very nicely into the whole album. It’s extremely heavy, much more than expected from this band, but because of its placement, it just switches up the album a little bit. It shakes things up, but it isn’t the final impression the album leaves you with. The final song, “Aether Wind,” returns to the lighter, but still amazing and epic, sound and allows you to remember back to previous songs on the album. I want to praise Mare Cognitum for “Occultated Temporal Dimensions” in the same way that I praised the slower, more mood-driven first song. The choice to include these kinds of songs on the album indicates that the band is thinking about the album-listening experience and it raises the entire quality of the album.

When I write these reviews, I try to be calmer and avoid getting excited or relying on hyperbole. So when I say that this album is a masterpiece and will most definitely be on my top ten albums of the year list, you can believe me. Luminiferous Aether is through and through a triumph for Mare Cognitum.

9.5/10

Grab it on Bandcamp: https://marecognitum.bandcamp.com/album/luminiferous-aether

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