The Rickety Old Shack

Mare Cognitum — Luminiferous Aether

Mare Cognitum - Luminiferous Aether, cover

For a fringe genre, black metal has seen an incredible surge in popularity — both in terms of new bands and album sales — over the past few years. While many new entrants into the scene fold a multitude of other elements into their sound, others hew closer to the traditional sounds of genre founds like Emperor and Mayhem. Mare Cognitum, like a great number of black metal projects, is a one-man effort, and it travels a solid middle-ground between the minimalistic roots of the genre and more experimental forms that include synths and other elements.

Debuting in 2011, with The Sea Which Has Become Known, Mare Cognitum established a brooding, space-themed sound and has slowly improved and refined it over each subsequent release — totalling 3 splits and 4 full-length albums. Luminiferous Aether continues the tradition of blending archetypal black metal elements — a lot of blastbeats and 'swirling,' fast guitar riffs — with expansive, spacey synths and modern production values. One of the prime benefits of modern black metal's ascendancy is the vastly improved recording quality found on all but the most hipster / kvlt albums these days.

Boasting one of my favourite album titles, Luminiferous Aether is a great example of the variety available in the modern black metal scene. Mare Cognitum presents an updated and expanded interpretation of the genre — progressive without forgetting its influences. Despite an average track-length of 10 minutes, Luminiferous Aether paces itself well. "Heliacal Rising" opens the album with a slow, melodic, mid-tempo number, while the tracks that follow maintain the same overall sound while adjusting the tempo and intensity when needed. The way each track segues into the next is really well done, and makes everything feel like part of a greater whole.

This year has been an exceptional one for black metal releases; there has never been a better time to dive into the genre with so many career-defining albums coming out in 2016. Mare Cognitum's contribution to this year's release schedule is easily their best album yet, and among the genre's best. A decade after Dissection released Reinkaos, which I endlessly mocked for its concept of "cosmic metal," I am now extolling the virtues a black metal band with such a theme. In my defence, Reinkaos was terrible, and Luminiferous Aether is anything but.


Managing to stand out even in a year filled with some of the genre's best releases, Mare Cognitum deliver almost an hour of dynamic, sonically crushing black metal. Luminiferous Aether conveys the bleak, cold nihilism of outer space through a medium of blastbeats, tremolo riffing and the screams of the damned. This is a must-have album for any progressive black metal fan's collection.

Album Information

Release date: September 16th, 2016
Record label: I, Voidhanger Records

Jacob Buczarski — everything

Track Listing

  1. Heliacal Rising
  2. The First Point Of Aries
  3. Constellation Hipparchia
  4. Occultated Temporal Dimensions
  5. Aether Wind

—by Derek

Published: November 18th, 2016