Mare Cognitum, Spectral Lore join forces for chilling trip to outer space with ‘Sol’


I’ve never been to outer space before. I know. You’re shocked. But I’ve thought a lot about it and always wonder what’s lurking in giant pockets of space where no human ever has, or possibly ever will, see before. Are there other creatures? Is there technology elsewhere we can’t even wrap our heads around because we’re not even aware of life on that plane? Or is everything cold and isolated?

Apparently the bands Mare Cognitum and Spectral Lore also have those same wonders, and unless I’m totally missing some huge news story, they also have not traveled the universe. At least not physically. Each are one-man projects, each coming from different parts of the globe, but when it comes to imagining what the great beyond holds, they’re not that far away from each other. Perhaps that’s part of what inspired their new conjoined effort “Sol,” a three-track, nearly 70-minute album of bleak black metal, lung-filling atmosphere, and chilling ambiance. The two artists each get their own track on “Sol,” each song lasting nearly a half hour each, and they combine for the cosmic, dreamy finale, putting both of their ambitions on display at once.

Mare Cognitum we visited last year with the release of the stunning “An Extraconscious Lucidity,” a record that also focused on the universe and reveled in the chaos of cosmic events. Sole creator Jacob Buczarski always manages to captivate and enthrall with this project, as he has over the course of two full-lengths. He’s at it again on “Sol,” where his knack for savagery is perfect for balancing out the serenity. Spectral Lore is the project headed by Ayloss, of Greece, who has drummed up three full-length records and a few split efforts since coming to life in 2005. He focuses on similar subject matter as Buczarski, which is why this union makes perfect sense, and their combined forces make “Sol” an astonishing listen, one that’s perfect for when you just want to stretch out and dream what may be out there.

Mare Cognitum kick off this collection with “Sol Ouroboros,” that starts with a slow, eerie build that stretches out over a few minutes and lets you breathe in the atmosphere. The song grows more spacious, like you’re slowly hurtling toward the deeper ends of the galaxy, and Buczarski eventually unleashes some echoey growls as the song heads into strange shadows and soupy weirdness. The track has some disarming melody that gives you a sense of ease as you slip in frozen isolation, and the last portion leans into prog, great black metal adventurousness, and a finale that’ll catapult you into the next chapter of this story. More great work from Mare Cognitum, a project that deserves more attention and adulation for making huge soundscapes cut with metallic intensity. The song doesn’t even feel half as long as it is, it flows so well.

Spectral Lore’s track “Sol Medius” follows, and it opens with a windy ambiance and progressive doom sludginess, and then the song totally bursts open with chaos and punishment that’s from the stars. The melodies build on each other and surge through the song, lighting up the night’s sky and pushing you toward an emotional high. The song then dips into calm—this becomes a theme, by the way, as it continually goes from harsh to soft—only to explode again and spit light in your face. This song is a constant up and down ride, in a really good way, and once it fades into slow doom, you might find yourself breathless from the journey you just took.

The two artists combine for the final cut “Red Giant,” a 15-minute dose of thick drone and noise hiss that ever so slowly builds in intensity over its running time but never supernovas. Nor should it. The idea here isn’t to scar you but fully soundtrack the incredible disappearance into the great blackness, your body’s eternal trip into places no human ever has explored before. It’s a swooshing, swirling chunk of noise drone that puts a fitting ending on this joint work.

Obviously this type of record will find a niche audience and isn’t there for people who need brutal blasts in four-minute chunks. You need to let this record sink in, and you have to be a willing participant in order to get the most out of “Sol.” My many visits with this record have been fruitful and rewarding, and it  sparked my cosmic dreams anew. These are two groups meant to create stories together, and hopefully they find time to do this again.

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