Mare Cognitum Luminiferous Cover 2016Okay, so you burned every church out there. Every last forest has been utilized for frost-bitten photographs of corpse-painted minions wielding medieval weaponry, invisible oranges, or both. You sang every hymn there is for either Satan, Tolkien orcness, darkness, the wilderness, or anything even remotely related to the above. What’s left to cover? Why SPACE, of course! As Darkspace and Hoth taught us, black metal bands are mining the fertile final frontier for inspiration. Californian multi-instrumentalist Jacob Buczarski weaves tales of cosmic mysticism with his one-man band, Mare Cognitum, and on his fourth album, Luminiferous Aether, Buczarski aims for the stars, and the results are a bit of a mixed bag.

But it’s not for want of trying. For example, opener “Heliacal Rising” establishes an ethereal atmosphere right off the bat. Watery guitar melodies glisten over a single floor tom before the drums begin in earnest, with another guitar humming in the background. As the song builds, Buczarski slowly paints a somber yet beautiful picture with his guitar melodies and effects. Whereas Darkspace turned space into a truly frightening phenomenon, Buczarski morphs it into an object of beauty and majesty. At once reflective, darkly colorful, and moving, “Heliacal Rising” engages the listener early, holding your attention throughout the song’s nine minutes. By the time the song concludes, you’re left awestruck and amazed. Very rarely has nine minutes flown by so quickly and poetically.

Buczarski’s guitar work steals the show on Luminiferous Aether. His use of layered tremolo melodies and Voivod-like progressions, such as the riff at 1:57 of “Occultated Temporal Dimensions,” jettisons the beauty of the opening song’s atmosphere for darker, denser territory. “The First Point of Aries” possesses one of the best black melodies I’ve heard in a long time in the opening riff. Also, his drumming, real or programmed, peppers the album with some interesting fills within the never-ending blast-a-thon. Each song contains moments of sheer magnificence, showcasing what Buczarski is capable of as a musician.

Mare Cognitum Band 2016But that magnificence comes at a hefty price. I’m a sucker for all things atmospheric, but when the atmosphere is stifling and constricting, everything races away in a blur. The production bears part of the blame, as the guitars feel almost imprisoning, smothering any semblance of bass, and burying the keyboards a bit. Also, the songwriting needs some breathing space [There is no breathing space…in space.Steel Druhm]. Of all the songs on the album, only “Heliacal Rising” and “The First Point of Aries” captivated me to the end. That’s because of the contrast of atmosphere between them, and also that the instruments breathe a bit more. Darkspace succeeds at their space metal game because they utilize moments of silence to build and maintain an atmosphere. I’m not saying, “Be Darkspace.” Rather, switch things up a bit instead of non-stop tremolo barrages, never-ending blastbeats, and segments that overstay their welcome. When your shortest song is still a hair under nine minutes, variety and breathing space aren’t only welcome, but they’re necessary.

The question here isn’t whether or not Luminiferous Aether is a good album, as parts of it captivate. Rather, the question is how often do I see myself coming back to this? I want to like Luminiferous Aether more than I do. Buczarski clearly possesses some mad talent and skill on guitar, and when he nails the atmosphere, the vortex he creates is unfathomably dense. Sadly, that density chokes a bit too often throughout the album. When I’m only coming back for the first two songs, there are problems. Frustrating.

Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 256 kbps mp3
Label: I, Voidhanger Records
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: September 16th, 2016

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  • Reese Burns

    A fair review, but I’m willing to bet that I’ll be able to squeeze a bit more enjoyment out of this one.

    • Same here! On the same topic, am I the only one that really enjoyed Astral Path’s debut??

      • Reese Burns

        I hadn’t heard of them before today, but I just checked them out, and Drag Me Down is a fucking great song.

    • Grymm

      And that’s the thing. This will connect better with other people than it did me. Buczarski is a talented musician, and his compositions can be engaging. This release just left me a bit cold. Others will probably enjoy it more than I did, but he’s definitely talented.

      • mtlman1990

        Love it. Occultated Temporal Dimensions is the most unique black metal song I have heard in a long time.

  • Ferrous Beuller

    You had me at “invisible oranges”…

  • Genezer

    Disappointing that you are so disappointed with this album. I think it’s very good 4.0/5.0. The production could have been a bit clearer perhaps but it does add to the atmosphere.

  • Norfair Legend

    “Mare” Cognitum…I can see the unicorn signal from miles away. Where are you good sir? Duty calls!

    • Bart the Repairman

      It’s already there, use your imagination:

      • Best abstract unicorn eva!

      • [not a Dr]

        It was hidden in plain sight! You just discovered the runic symbol for unicorn: the Runicorn.

    • BenSears01730

      enough with the fucking unicorns already. get a life.

    • BenSears01730

      enough with the stupid unicorns already…sheesh.

      • Thatguy

        Never enough unicorns.

        • BenSears01730

          thought this was a metal site. try reddit, where there’s plenty of unicorn-themed content to wank your schlank…

          • Reese Burns

            Hey now, it’s all in good fun

          • BenSears01730

            ok, whatever

      • [not a Dr]

        The mare Cognitum is a learning horse, which makes her a smart unicorn.

    • [not a Dr]

      You just turned The Sea of Learning into The Learning She-Horse. Well played.

  • Eldritch Elitist

    From what you describe this sounds like the kind of thing I’ll really enjoy despite its flaws. We need more space-themed black metal. Nice review!

  • AlphaBetaFoxface

    The EP split is considerably more enjoyable than this.

    That being said, this isn’t too shabby. Though I am disappointed.

  • Feytalist

    I feel like I’ve been listening to songs off this album for a while now… the advance track(s) have been out for a while?

    Anyway, yeah, while I’m a sucker for atmospheric stuff, I don’t super like this for basically the same reasons as in the review. I prefer Darkspace for my space metal, really.

  • Oscar Albretsen

    I turned the song off after 5 seconds.

    • deathmasquered

      Would you like a cookie, son?

      • Oscar Albretsen

        Sorry. I didn’t like it. Please forgive me, Dad.

  • Lord Lucan

    Space Satan: Corrupting the Universe One World at a Time

    Sounds like the kind of horror movie you’d find for 99c at the bottom of the bargain bin at Blockbuster Video.

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      So, you’re an old geezer too?

      • Lord Lucan

        I was in mourning the day they folded. Netflix just doesn’t cut it!

        • The issue I have with Netflix is how their catalogue varies quite dramatically between regions (comparing US, UK and Japan) and how things that were available suddenly vanishes without warning.

    • Westpaceagle

      Sounds like the kind of horror movie you’d buy immediately for 99c at the bottom of the bargain bin at Blockbuster Video.
      FTFY. Rec for blockbuster!

    • Actually it’s a song by Highko.

  • Worldeater

    Hmm sounds okish … I prefer Thorns – Existence for my regular dose of space-metal, maybe some Vektor from time to time but mostly Thorns.

    • iiixf

      Nocturnus is THE band to go for when in mood for space metal (but only The Key and Thresholds)

      • Worldeater

        Ahh yes, i should listen to The Key again!

  • Ein Sophistry

    Still digesting this one, but so far my response has been pretty similar to our esteemed reviewer’s. Love “Heliacal Rising” to death, but much of the rest of the album has so far failed to stick. I’ll keep trying, though; Phobos Monolith played a big role in rekindling my interest in black metal.

  • Westpaceagle

    In space, no one can hear you grimace….

    I rather like this…there is certainly a lot going on all at once with maybe a little too much ‘atmosphere’ at times, but the guitars rip. If you shred on guitars I can overlook a lot, personally.

    Oh, and for those who are tired of Nordic, pagan, folksy style blasphemy, check out Heretical from Italy. They practice good old fashioned Catholic, Exorcist style Satan worship. Its very amusing.

  • Treble Yell

    Arcturus cornered the market with “black metal in space,” especially with the sublime Sham Mirrors. Guess I’ll stick to that.

  • Elton Chagas

    Not really understanding the scores on this website anymore. I mean, I really can recognize all the flaws you mentioned, but… 2.5? I’ve seen truly BAD albums getting like 3.5 or 4.0 (even 4.5). I think the review was fair, but the score was COMPLETELY unfair.

    • Grymm

      Scores, like reviews themselves, are a matter of personal opinion. Like you’ve said, I’ve seen scores given out that cause me to scratch my head (White Wizzard, anyone?), but I also understand that it’s a matter of personal taste and opinion as to why a score is what it is.

      As for why I gave it a 2.5, while I recognize the talent there, and the first two tracks are stellar, I was coming back to this album less and less. I couldn’t see myself giving this a higher score, but that doesn’t mean it won’t connect with you in a much stronger way.

      Hope that helps.

    • Treble Yell

      “I think the review was fair, but the score was COMPLETELY unfair”

      Can we unpack this? Your point of contention seems to rest on the numerical score not matching the written body of the review. In the review Grymm points out several of the album’s failings, most notably “Of all the songs on the album, only “Heliacal Rising” and “The First Point of Aries” captivated me to the end” and “When I’m only coming back for the first two songs, there are problems.”

      It’s evident that although some enjoyment was wrung from this album, on balance it is lopsided and failed to provide meaningful reason for a return trip. A score of 2.5 typically means that an album is mixed (not bad, not good) and fails to provide a compelling reason for further spins. Personally, it’s hard to see any incongruity between the written review and the score it was assigned. Do you disagree?

  • Bas

    Space in your face … the Galactic Cowboys album?!
    Anybody remember them?

    • Certainly do. I own 5 of their albums. They changed quite a bit throughout the years and got a bit preachy at times, but they always knew how to write a catchy tune.

      • Bas

        I loved their ‘space in your face album’ but already got a bit bored with them on machine fish.. and missed out on their later stuff. … i should check them out (especially since it appears that they will record another album…).

        • I had no idea about the new album. I think their debut is still their best. The stuff post Machine Fish is still pretty strong, but not as consistent. Their final album at the time – Let It Go, is very catchy and also probably their poppiest, though the crunchy guitars remain. Machine Fish is the only album of theirs I don’t have. I don’t think they ever reached their full potential, but they were/are good.

    • I knew somebody would get that reference.

  • Meat Tornado

    Synopsis of this review is the same as most of AMG’s reviews: “too long, too complex and it confused me. I get mad when people make my brain hurt”

    • Perhaps you’d be more at home on Blabbermouth or Metal Temple.

    • Grymm

      Morrow, Mournful Congregation, Pallbearer (who I gave Album o’ the Year to in 2014), Spirit Adrift (who I gave a 4.0 to just a few weeks ago), Opeth, Iron Maiden, Primordial, Anathema, and My Dying Bride have all put out 10+ minute songs that I thoroughly enjoyed, and that’s just scratching the surface. It’s a case of the quality, which is hit-or-miss here.

      I’d list more if, according to you, my brain didn’t hurt.

  • Worldeater

    Thx, i´ll check them out!

  • Benevolent Sun

    Great review. I never heard of these guys but I really dig it.

  • Tofu muncher

    Mare is a mature female horse