Mare Cognitum
Luminiferous Aether


3.2
good

Review

by Jacquibim STAFF
September 5th, 2016 | 133 replies


Release Date: 2016 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A beautifully crafted, self-aware opus that succeeds where many others have failed.

No matter how hard I try and no matter the way I approach it, I cannot bring myself to love atmospheric black metal. Not the modern variety that’s proliferated, at least. It seems to go against the nihilistic ethos of its parent genre, attempting to conjure atmosphere through glistening effects that leave even its rawest exhibits feeling a little contrived. Though largely incomparable, it often suffers from the same tunnel-visioned outlook as brutal death metal: when you reduce a style down to a solitary trait, the outcome can not only be detrimental but counter-productive. Until now, Mare Cognitum was no exception to this, with prior work feeling a little forced and unripe. However, with his fourth full-length in Luminiferous Aether, the one-man band has found a balance between the genre’s limitations and the weight of his ambitions.

Everything here feels like the means to an end, as the compositions are able to breathe with the mood stemming from the core as opposed to the bells and whistles attached. Although that isn’t to say Luminiferous Aether is aesthetically stripped down, because the production is as lavish as the album’s spacey themes are grandiose. Both the lead and rhythm guitars – as well as the multitude of additional tracks that slither in and out of earshot – are soaked in delay, bolstering the uplifting vibe further still, if occasionally tumbling into melodrama. Windswept synth pads are also present, but consigned to the background where they rightfully belong. The diminished electronics give the listener a better appreciation of Mare Cognitum’s musical proficiency, which is put to good use in reeling off a handful of dexterous solos. Curiously, he opts to bury his handiwork in the mix, imbuing each song with a sense of mysticism and shirking flamboyance in the process.

Listening on, you can’t help but be impressed by Mare Cognitum’s intuition; he just seems to know what will work and what won’t in any given sequence. Some riffs, such as the one during the pre-chorus of “Constellation Hipparchia” are deceptively catchy, dancing back and forth between staccato-esque power chords and fleeting tremolo spells. But rather than feeling incongruent, the riff manages to anchor the song without becoming a focal point, allowing the rest of the piece to soar unimpeded. However, Luminiferous Aether isn’t just a one-way ascension; “Occultated Temporal Dimensions” is noticeably darker and more violent than the accompanying songs. As such, the riffs may not be as individually memorable, but what it trades in terms of thrills, it makes up for in distinctiveness to the benefit of what bookends it. Though repetition has a big role in the arrangements, Mare Cognitum’s perceptiveness and attention to detail prevents them from stagnating, the result of which is rather captivating.

This album is refreshing in that it doesn’t pretend to be something it’s not. It’s theatrical, bold and forthright in its approach to atmospheric black metal, but that doesn’t come at the expense of quality. The only reservation one might have is that it feels like a creative zenith for Mare Cognitum, and leaves me wondering where he will go next having hit his stride. Regardless, Luminiferous Aether is here to savour for the time being, and rest assured that it won’t disappoint.




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user ratings (87)
Chart.
3.9
excellent


Comments:Add a Comment 
Jacquibim
Staff Reviewer
September 5th 2016


2124 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Album will be out on the 16th, in the mean time here's a birb https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ehd53tSmdXs

Xenophanes
Staff Reviewer
September 5th 2016


824 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

It's good ya

Digging: Godflesh - Post Self

p4p
September 5th 2016


1959 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

gr8 review gr8 vid

Jacquibim
Staff Reviewer
September 5th 2016


2124 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Thanks guys. I realised after writing the intro that my take on the album is eerily similar to Eli's soundoff but w/e

iloveyouall
September 5th 2016


6319 Comments


i accidentally let out a luminiferous aether when i was chatting to a girl earlier today. thankfully she didn't hear it ejecting from my posterior macrocosm.

TheSpirit
Contributing Reviewer
September 5th 2016


21998 Comments


Hmmm, good review, although I'm not sure I agree much with your opening paragraph. Yes, a lot of modern atmospheric black metal is "glistening", but I would reckon that there's more that isn't. Also, black metal has always kind of had a "glistening" beauty to it. I don't mean to split hairs, but I think now the problem is more atmospheric black metal being polished, which kind of ruins the raw edge. Apologies if that's what you mean, but to me, there is a difference in what those two terms mean in a black metal context.

"Though largely incomparable, it often suffers from the same tunnel-visioned outlook as brutal death metal: when you reduce a style down to a solitary trait, the outcome can not only be detrimental but counter-productive."

Disagree hard on this. Burzum pretty much cemented on Hvis Lyset Tar Oss that you can double down on a single trait and the product is amazing. A lot of other bands have had success doing this as well. Imo, atmospheric black metal should be solely concentrated on simply creating an immersive soundscape. Sure, if it includes some other embellishments, that's cool, but it's goal should be a hypnotic end product.

Anyway, I'll have to check this out. I was impressed by the material from his split released a few weeks ago.

Jacquibim
Staff Reviewer
September 5th 2016


2124 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Thanks for the feedback man, I knew I might've raised a few eyebrows with the opening paragraph but I can only speak from my own experience. I also tried to use non-definitive language with the BDM comparison to allow for exceptions to the rule, Burzum's obv one of them. Cheers!

iloveyouall
September 5th 2016


6319 Comments


you just wanted to take a cheap shot at bdm let's be real.

BallsDeep
September 5th 2016


4647 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Nice review Jac but it reads more like a 4 to me.

Dizchu
September 5th 2016


264 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Good review, I always found "atmospheric black metal" to be a vague and pointless term. At least brutal death metal has elements like slams that make it distinct.



I have been looking forward to this album though.

cryptologous
Contributing Reviewer
September 5th 2016


1817 Comments


very good album. been spinning it non-stop these past few days.

pizzamachine
September 5th 2016


13480 Comments


Welp, the last album was fun for the ears so I'm pretty psyched! 😁

Atari
Staff Reviewer
September 5th 2016


22711 Comments


Cool, can't wait to hear this

Digging: Langhorne Slim - Lost At Last, Vol 1

brainmelter
September 5th 2016


4583 Comments


will check this, good review. I like that first para

Digging: Options - Driftwood Metaphor

Gameofmetal
Staff Reviewer
September 5th 2016


10179 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

been really into this band since that split with aureole came out, gonna check this hard

CrimsonLies
September 5th 2016


2575 Comments


Sweet, gotta listen. Phobos Monolith was incredible

SpiritCrusher2
September 5th 2016


5733 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

^ that one was cool yea, gonna check this

zaruyache
September 5th 2016


17943 Comments


That soundcloud clip is sounding pretty cool.

DungeonBoy
September 6th 2016


3250 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Great review, have yet to listen, but I'm gonna guess that your rating is too low.

Spacesh1p
September 6th 2016


7111 Comments


Nice review Jac, as always.

Digging: Deadbeat - Drawn and Quartered



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