After the unsuccessful campaign initiated by the label Supernal Music that was originally going to release the album (with the little ’if’ that the album would have to sell out the whole run of 250 copies in preorders), Darker Than Black Records has taken care of Fidei Defensor’s debut album’s release since the preorder project failed and Supernal Music backed out.
My first thoughts after reading about the album was that it would be a feast on raw, uncompromising black metal occultism, but that is quite far from the truth; despite the overall harshness revolving around the album, Cognoscenti is more prominently beautiful, giving much emphasis to melancholic melody. Considering the first track ”Nvlli Expvgnabilis Hosti” and the beginning of the next one ”Veritas, Satana”, the album sounds like a delicate post-rock affair with all those reverby, fragile guitar pickings. It is not until the first five minutes or so are over when the distortion and metal kicks in, guitars fluctuating between wistful and ominous riffs and melodies, vocals having perhaps an unnecessary amount of effected distortion on them, and drums being programmed, though they sound decent enough.
From there on, throughout the next three last tracks, Cognoscenti continues balancing between quieter moments (”Pallida Mors” even having a nice piano outro) and mid-tempo black metal sections. I don’t think the compositions stand out with absolute uniqueness, but the band does seem to know what they’re doing at creating a strong whole of black metal that nicely varies between calmful and fierce parts. The running time isn’t prolonged either, clocking at 32 minutes, which is another thing for the album’s good. Cognoscenti might not be the most impressive black metal release of the year, but delivers its music convincingly enough to deserve an occasional spin from me.