Release Details

LABEL I, Voidhanger Records
RELEASED ON 9/16/2016
GENRES Progressive,Black
  • ...this is heady stuff that is well played and well produced.

Mare Cognitum

Luminiferous Aether

posted on 9/2016   By: Dave Schalek

It almost seems to just slide off the tongue. The loo-minnn-if- errus eeether. The luminiferous ether merits a Death From Above article (or two) all by itself, not just being referenced here, but also recently by High On Fire; but, that’s for another time.

I, Voidhanger Records is a niche label with a penchant for spacey, quirky, cosmic black metal. Sporting a roster loaded with such thematic bands (Spectral Lore, Ecferus, Bloodway, etc.), one of the bright stars of the label is the one-man black metal act Mare Cognitum out of southern California. Be aware, though, Mare Cognitum is not the murky, suicidal basement black metal of yesteryear; this is heady stuff that is well played and well produced, even if it did come out of a basement somewhere (not many people have basements in southern California, though).

Luminiferous Aether is the fourth full-length from Mare Cognitum, and is a mildly symphonic take on what is ultimately typical second wave black metal. A slight thinness to the production, plenty of blastbeats, harsh vocals, lots of tremolo picking, you name it, it’s here and then some. However, besides the cosmic themes that I find personally appealing, what separates Mare Cognitum a bit from its contemporaries is the fluid guitar work, which is nearly flawless on Luminiferous Aether.

“Heliacal Rising” opens the album with a dreamy soundscape enhanced by acoustic guitars, muted harsh vocals, and a solo, setting the stage for what is an epic song that soars to, well, cosmic heights. A quiet outro leads into the fast “First Point In Aries” (an astronomical reference) where the riffing really begins to take on a life all its own, especially with some arpeggios that appear around the 2:55 mark or so.

“Constellation Hipparchia,” the longest song on the album, clocking in at over twelve minutes, follows with what is probably the heaviest material with shifts in tempo and a few moments where the tremolo picking downshifts into some meatier chords. “Occulted Temporal Dimensions” also features moments of heaviness scattered amongst the blastbeats, and reveals Mare Cognitum as a descendant of Dimmu Borgir from around the Spiritual Black Dimensions era. That’s as a good place as any to arise from within the symphonic subgenre. “Aether Wind” closes out the album with plenty of melody delivered by the fast riffing.

Mare Cognitum fits in nicely into I, Voidhanger’s roster of cosmic explorers, and breathes life into the symphonic subgenre, which has been rather moribund of late. Speaking of I, Voidhanger, about the only complaint that I have about the label is its relative lack of vinyl releases. Luckily, Fallen Empire Records is picking up the slack with the vinyl issue of Luminiferous Aether.


Mare Cognitum
Phobos Monolith