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Mare Cognitum – Solar Paroxysm Award winner

Mare Cognitum
Solar Paroxysm
by Justin "Witty City" Wittenmeier at 10 March 2021, 8:19 AM

MARE COGNITUM is an American one man black metal project/band that formed in 2011. “Solar Paroxysm,” is the fifth full length album to be born under the name, which is from mastermind Jacob Buczarski.  In addition, there has been three split albums released over the years. Speaking of split albums, MARE COGNITUM released one with SPECTRAL LORE called “Wanderers: Astrology of the Nine,” which became one of my most favored blackened albums of 2020. So once again I am blown away because Jacob has already put out another beast of an album; “Solar Paroxysm,” is nothing short of masterful and is stunning through out the fifty six minute run time.

This epic album comes with some changes to the band’s sound.  Although still retaining the well known atmosphere and musicianship MARE COGNITUM has become known for, some of the more cosmic, spacey, and alien elements have been dialed back for a tighter focus on the relentlessness entity that has been just beneath the void all this time.  The results is a tighter, faster, and much more focused beast that finds more Earthy elements yet still retains the universal depth the band does so well.

The songwriting is still unconventional and doesn’t follow any particular set of rules, maintaining the band’s long running approach of crafting black metal that really walks its own path and sets it apart from every other band out there. To me, this album is definitely more “music” based with a focus on the individual instruments coming together for the sake of the song rather than being a more abstract element.

The production is nothing less than perfect—Jacob did it himself of course and he obviously understands that an extreme album like this needs to sound great yet with touches of raw power the black metal genre requires.  This album NEEDS to sound immense anyway because, well, so is the music.  Not one second is wasted here, not one passage found within doesn’t have a well deserved spot.  The production easily swallows all of this, containing it for our listening pleasure.

The album begins with “Antaresian,” and ambient noises that quickly give way to the fury of drums and guitar, the former being inhumanely fast and the later dancing around the edges of melodic distortion. While Jacob screams his ass off, the riffs twist and turn like an ancient undiscovered sea.  The keyboards are tragically beautiful, pushed to the fore front by the undercurrent of the double bass. The renewed focused on guitar riffs lends the song an urgent tone and the lower, blackened death growls remind us that time is of the essence for we are in constant state of near death.  The last five minutes or so of the song showcases how guitars can be just as evocative and moving as any keyboard or synth passage.

Frozen Star Divination,” immediately sounds dangerous and trepidation sets in soon after.  How exciting that a band so extreme can make these feelings arrive!  The power of music, the power of metal to be specific, is nothing short of astounding and Jacob welds this power with surgical precision. The beat of the snare drum captures the attention and lets the song grab a hold of you, pulling you through this cold wasteland. Melodic passage are weaved into the fabric of the song that are a journey unto themselves, speeding up and growing in layers as need be but never forgetting to be a part of the song, the larger picture as a whole.

Terra Requiem,” is one of the more menacing songs on the album.  The guitar tone is perfect for the slower pace of the track and captures every moment and detail along the way.  This is possibly my favorite on the album because it is so damn trippy in places.  The cloudy void from past releases makes a return on this track and it is truly encompassing.  This ten a half minute song can be heard as one big, wall of sound but each instrument can be picked out upon subsequent listens if so desired.  After the melodic mid section the song speeds up for a relentless sonic dirge.

Luminous Accretion,” begins with the drums in the forefront as the guitars and bass come to join.  The melodic moments are fast paced and the vocals ride upon, using them as an anchor to launch their assault.  The first half of this song is made up of changing passage brought on by the guitar and vocals that bury their way through the riffs.  The later half is more atmospheric based but just as intense as what came before.  I loved the drums that dropped musical bombs at the end of each vocal line and then built the song back up to match the song’s beginning moments.

Ataraxia Tunnels,” closes the album on a high note. The guitar rings out like an ancient transmission from lost civilization.  This song is very fluid and grows out naturally from the beginning. The music and rides and falls like the tides or like human beings themselves. As the minutes pass, the song rises higher and higher. Around the 5:30 mark, the climax hits. Or at least it seems to but then more and more is piled on top and it reaches new highs.

It should come as no surprise but MARE COGNITUM have once again released another black metal masterpiece. This album makes you think about your own mortality while still letting your mind go on these strange but rewarding adventures. Neither preferring aggression or atmosphere but instead welding them both together with a masterful touch.

Songwriting: 10
Musicianship: 10
Memorability: 10
Production: 10

5 Star Rating

1. Antaresian
2. Frozen Star Divinization
3. Terra Requiem
4. Luminous Accretion
5. Ataraxia Tunnels
Jacob Buczarski - Everything
Record Label: I, Voidhanger Records


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