Mare Cognitum – Phobos Monolith

(I, Voidhanger Records, 2014)

Mare Cognitum is the creation of Jacob Buczarski, based in Santa Ana (California), a fact which does not really come across in the music, since his form of Atmospheric Black Metal sounds like possibly coming from a vast number of countries, so Universal is the nature of his work.

The album starts with a very calm and Ambient semi-acoustic intro with cosmic walls of sound, before switching to slow Atmospheric Metal, then exploding in faster blastings, and finally settling in a very nineties-sounding approach to these cosmic themes.

The vocals have travelled in time from the nineties, with their highly reverberating speech-like screaming. They have in fact the “worst” (but not bad) sound of the instruments on these recordings, since the overall sound of the album is very good and professional. The guitars sound naturally very Atmospheric and Black Metallic, with tremolos sending shivers down my spine, while working extremely well in the damping parts as well. The drums sound very natural, organic and machinelike in the same time, making it pointless to figure out whether you’re listening to a human drummer or something more digital. Marvelously executed in any case, and the sounds fit the rest of the music fine as well. The synths are kept in the background mostly, keeping the music more in the realms of pure Metal rather than a more symphonic approach, although the ambient aspects are present enough to give the sensations of vast space in my mind’s eye. As a more original approach, the sometimes heard picked and a bit more Mediterranean sounding semi-acoustic guitars fit the music amazingly well.

The compositions and performance of the riffs and melodies is magnificent, as well as the programming of all elements electronic on these songs. The songs are pretty similar in nature (although going quite technical and Death Metallic in the final song in contrast to the other material), making this album basically a one big song, suitable for listening on one sitting rather than a song here and a song there. This is deep stuff, perhaps not so much in sounds, but in the overall atmosphere, somehow. Hence the term Atmospheric Black Metal, of which this is a fine example indeed.

I enjoy the nineties-vibes as well as the cosmic atmosphere, while admiring the skills of the composer and performer of these sometimes intense, sometimes calm hymns. Nevertheless I feel like Jacob could and can deliver something as skilled but even more original in the future. Let us hope so, and in the mean time congratulate him on this marvelous piece of art!

8/10 – Antti Mikonmäki

Mare Cognitum (Facebook)

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