Mare Cognitum - Luminiferous Aether
I, Voidhanger Records
Atmospheric Black Metal
5 songs (50' 33")
Release year: 2016
I, Voidhanger Records
Reviewed by Andy
Album of the month

After blowing me away with Phobos Monolith a couple of years ago, one-man show Jacob Buczarski again overdelivers on his latest LP, refining his sound further without throwing away any of what made his black metal such a beautiful experience. Where An Extraconscious Lucidity was about traditional black metal elements with a cosmic atmosphere, and Phobos Monolith a grand theme of triumph, Luminiferous Aether welds the two halves more firmly together, giving the listener a more nuanced and emotional album.

He isn't afraid to start slow. Clean guitars play to echoing background noise reminiscent of movie spaceship sound effects on Heliacal Rising, the electric guitars only starting to warm up towards the middle of the song. As in Phobos Monolith, the production is big and echoing and the guitars are deeply layered -- when tremolo picking starts, it's more like an orchestral movement than a single instrument. By the next song the sense of slow buildup is replaced by furious riffing, the doublekick going a mile a minute, but the melody is still there in the solos, building to a crescendo a few minutes till the end of the track. Buczarski's always been guitar-oriented, and here the guitars outdo themselves, howling a soprano counterpoint to his gritty vocals; as before, those vocals aren't incredibly distinctive (or understandable without a lyric sheet), but act as a solid part of the rhythm section to hold the melody up.

Listeners to Darkspace or similar space-themed atmospheric black metal bands might be expecting something a little different, something emphasizing the coldness and vastness of space. But the sound of Mare Cognitum only has the vastness part down pat -- its version of space is filled with beauty and light, a place where humanity's eventual end won't ever stop them from making heroes of themselves in the meantime. Buczarski won't let listeners off the hook in terms of aggression, however; Occultated Temporal Dimensions is harsher and more abrasive than its predecessors, the guitars blasting the listener atonally like a dose of hard radiation, and even the eventual drop-off to a couple of minutes of sci-fi-themed synth effects doesn't decrease the sense of alien menace. Aether Wind, one of my favorites, is a bit more down-to-earth in terms of blackened songwriting; it takes a fairly simple melody and stacks layer after layer of harmonized guitar on it, the vocals a bare whisper rasped out over the choir of soloing guitars and thudding drum kicking.

A sound like Mare Cognitum's doesn't come along everyday, and like the previous albums, Luminiferous Aether feels like a painstaking labor of love. Grab this one and you won't regret it.

Bandcamp: https://marecognitum.bandcamp.com/.

Killing Songs :
All are equally good
Andy quoted 92 / 100
Other albums by Mare Cognitum that we have reviewed:
Mare Cognitum - An Extraconscious Lucidity reviewed by Andy and quoted 88 / 100
Mare Cognitum - Phobos Monolith reviewed by Andy and quoted 95 / 100
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