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Mare Cognitum is a one-man atmospheric black metal act from the United States. The sole member is Jacob Buczarski, who started the project in 2011, self-releasing his first album, The Sea Which Has Become Known, the same year.

The second album An Extraconscious Lucidity was released in 2012 in very limited qunatities via Lunar Meadow Records. Mare Cognitum would later sign a deal with I, Voidhanger Records, which saw a remastered edition of the album receive a wider releases in 2015.

In 2013 Mare Cognitum took part in the split release Sol with Greek act and fellow one-man band Spectral Lore. Each artist contributed a track each and collaborated on a third.

The third Mare Cognitum album Phobos Monolith was released in 2014.

In 2016 Mare Cognitum released Resonance: Crimson Void, a split with the artist Aureole and later the fourth full-length album Luminiferous Aether. A limited boxset of the first three albums
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MARE COGNITUM albums / top albums

MARE COGNITUM The Sea Which Has Become Known album cover 4.17 | 6 ratings
The Sea Which Has Become Known
Atmospheric Black Metal 2011
MARE COGNITUM An Extraconscious Lucidity album cover 4.06 | 8 ratings
An Extraconscious Lucidity
Atmospheric Black Metal 2012
MARE COGNITUM Phobos Monolith album cover 4.70 | 13 ratings
Phobos Monolith
Atmospheric Black Metal 2014
MARE COGNITUM Luminiferous Aether album cover 4.41 | 11 ratings
Luminiferous Aether
Atmospheric Black Metal 2016
MARE COGNITUM Solar Paroxysm album cover 4.62 | 8 ratings
Solar Paroxysm
Atmospheric Black Metal 2021


MARE COGNITUM Sol album cover 4.36 | 7 ratings
Atmospheric Black Metal 2013
MARE COGNITUM Resonance: Crimson Void album cover 4.00 | 6 ratings
Resonance: Crimson Void
Atmospheric Black Metal 2016
MARE COGNITUM Wanderers: Astrology Of The Nine album cover 4.89 | 5 ratings
Wanderers: Astrology Of The Nine
Atmospheric Black Metal 2020

MARE COGNITUM live albums

MARE COGNITUM demos, promos, fans club and other releases (no bootlegs)

MARE COGNITUM re-issues & compilations

MARE COGNITUM Cassette Box Set album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Cassette Box Set
Atmospheric Black Metal 2016

MARE COGNITUM singles (0)

MARE COGNITUM movies (DVD, Blu-Ray or VHS)


MARE COGNITUM Solar Paroxysm

Album · 2021 · Atmospheric Black Metal
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It has been almost ten years since US atmospheric black metal solo project Mare Cognitum, the brainchild of Jacob Buczarski, released its debut album The Sea Which Has Become Known in 2011. In a decade there are many things that have not changed, such as Buczarski's continuance as the project's sole member and his apparently eternal dedication to the spacey atmospheric black metal music that has been Mare Cognitum's shtick since day one. What has changed though, is how much increasingly stronger a musician he has become in a decade, which has seen Mare Cognitum release four studio albums and three major split/collaboration releases, two of them being with Greek I, Voidhanger Records labelmate Spectral Lore. The most recent of these was 2020's Wanderers: Astrology of the Nine with Spectral Lore, a mammoth double album that held many claims to being the best work from both artists involved.

Still, nothing could really have prepared anyone for the release of Mare Cognitum's fifth main studio album Solar Paroxysm, released in 2021. In short, this is an album that even on the first spin managed to floor me with its sound and level of creativity in such a way that it was like listening to Mare Cognitum for the first time again, which for me was with third album Phobos Monolith from 2014. Although objectively Mare Cognitum has shown improvement with every release up to Wanderers, Phobos Monolith, as with many of the albums we discover artists with, had a bonus nostalgia factor for me that has always made it my personal favourite. However having given Solar Paroxysm a few spins now, I believe we may well be dealing with a release that defeats nostalgia. We are certainly dealing with a record that shows off its album of the year potential from the get-go.

Mare Cognitum has always favoured long tracks and there isn't an album out there that has more than half a dozen on it. On Solar Paroxysm Buczarski has delivered five, each of them passing ten minutes. The total running time of the record is a little shy of one hour. And that's an hour that just seems to fly by so fast that you'd be forgiven if you're left wondering if you accidentally leant on the skip button of your player. There is no song here that feels like it's anywhere near as long as it actually is. At no point does it feel like the writing has been purposely elongated or that the album has become pretentious. The balanced sound between spacey atmospheric melodies and more aggressive tendencies in the riffs is about as divine as this genre can probably ever be, while Jacob's growls adds a primordial edge on top that invokes the extremity of space and the formation of strange alien worlds. This will be a familiar vibe to existing fans, but the immediacy of the record is unprecedented.

Anyone who has been listening to Mare Cognitum this last few years knows already that Jacob Buczarski is a man who knows his craft. But he is also a man who shows that no matter how good his last work was, there's always room to keep honing that craft and against all expectations of reviewers like yours truly, who have already graded his work in the top tier, that improvement can be achieved. And yet Solar Paroxysm is not just good or even simply better than Mare Cognitum's previous releases. It is next level good: an album that's very easy to listen to multiple times back to back and certainly one that will keep being come back to again and again. It is true that only time, much of which is still needed to truly judge such a record, can tell whether something will remain as good once the honeymoon period is over, but I for one, have really good feelings about Solar Paroxysm.

MARE COGNITUM Solar Paroxysm

Album · 2021 · Atmospheric Black Metal
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I’ve long been fascinated with records that explore the sounds of space from an extreme metal point of view. There’s an inherent excitement to basking in an expansive atmosphere while being bombarded by aggressive guitar work and pummeling blastbeats, as bands like Blood Incantation and Mithras have definitely proven. No matter how intense the music gets, there’s something strangely soothing and dreamlike about it; it’s almost as if the music could threaten to become background noise if you’re not paying enough attention. But much like the aforementioned bands, Mare Cognitum - consisting only of California native Jacob Buczarski - brings just the right amount of musical variety and neat embellishments to (mostly) avoid the pitfall of overt repetition. The fact that Solar Paroxysm has no song under 10 minutes might seem like a doozy, but believe me: this album flies by very quickly.

Every song here is a mini-epic rife with the tropes you’d typically hear from a progressive/atmospheric black metal project: long tremolo-picked passages, layered wall-of-sound instrumentation for that “vast” soundscape, and of course the harsh shrieks to top it all off. There’s a remarkable sense of progression in these tracks despite the album’s often long-winded nature, largely due to the fact that most of them come from a similar beginning. The majority of the tracks kick off with a familiar tremolo/blastbeat-driven base, and while that does make the intros a tad predictable, it allows Buczarski to use them as a launching pad to fly off in whatever direction he sees fit. Opener “Antaresian” opts to settle into what I could consider a “funeral waltz” using increasingly progressive 3/4 and 6/8 chugs before climaxing with a beautifully melancholic solo; meanwhile, “Frozen Star Divinization” is a long showcase of mesmerizing tremolo guitar harmonies, almost as if they’re locked in a never-ending duel in the middle of a wintry tundra. “Luminous Accretion” is probably the most technical song on offer, constantly shifting tempos and riff patterns while giving the drums a serious workout; finally, “Ataraxia Tunnels” is probably the most traditionally black metal-oriented track here while maintaining the sense of atmosphere that defines the rest of the album.

“Terra Requiem”, however, doesn’t fit quite as nicely on a stylistic level… and that’s because it’s the best song on the record. Most of it is played at a snail’s pace and really gets at the heart of this record’s dark take on a cosmic sound. The tremolo harmonies and double bass drumming are still prevalent here, just used to color a more funereal and despair-filled picture. Everything comes together beautifully in the middle of the song, as the keyboards soar above the melodic guitar solo; it strikes a brilliant balance between awe and hopelessness that I haven’t heard in quite some time. Speaking of the “picture”, the lyrics of Solar Paroxysm are very appropriate to the music as well. It’s your typical vaguely space-y imagery, but there are some pretty cool stanzas I’ll single out. Check out these ones from “Luminous Accretion”:

“Corporeal fractures Essence separates Violent transposition Self-observed from above, lingering

Communicants, wretched spires Materialize, surround, engulf Great tongues through which Creations are spoken (and thus conceived)”

Or these ones from “Terra Requiem”:

“The last leaves have fallen The last vine has withered The ocean has boiled for so long Choking our breath with fetid steam

We claw for shelter from the heartless sun Which cracks our skin and dries our wells So great is the debt we have incurred So too will we wilt and fade into dust”

Again, pretty vague and hard to decipher, but the imagery itself really fits the sound of the album so I don’t mind in the slightest.

Whether or not you will enjoy Solar Paroxysm will probably depend on your tolerance for the familiar tropes Mare Cognitum often employs to flesh out his sound. It’s true that nothing on this album breaks much new ground for atmospheric black metal, but the quality lies in how it’s executed here. The songs, while often starting the same, eventually lead us to incredibly neat locales by the time they’re done because of Buczarski’s adventurousness with this well-worn genre. Solar Paroxysm is my first experience with Mare Cognitum, and it looks like I have one hell of a back catalogue ahead of me if this album’s any indication.

MARE COGNITUM Wanderers: Astrology Of The Nine

Split · 2020 · Atmospheric Black Metal
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Wanderers: Astrology of the Nine (2020) is a part split and part collaboration album by US solo project Mare Cognitum and Greek solo act Spectral Lore. Both acts belong to the atmospheric black metal genre. Wanderers: Astrology of the Nine is the second release that the two have got together for after Sol (2013), to which Wanderers: Astrology of the Nine can be considered a thematic sequel; with the former being about our Sun, and Wanderers: Astrology of the Nine taking a journey through the planets themselves, openly owing a nod to Gustav Holst's Planets Suite in conception. And yes, the planets do include Pluto, so take that International Astronomical Union. In fact, Pluto gets not one but two tracks to its name here, with both acts collaborating on them.

Wanderers: Astrology of the Nine is a gargantuan release. The pair's prior offering Sol was already a substantial effort – a near seventy minute release spread across just three tracks, but Mare Cognitum and Spectral Lore have really outdone themselves with this one. While no individual track comes close to the 29:10 and 25:53 long beasts that were their individual contributions to Sol respectively, there's a lot more tracks overall. Ten, to be exact. That's four each for each act on their own and the two Pluto tracks working together. It all comes together as a double album that is almost a full two hours long. Even without each other and their collaborations there is more than enough material here apiece for each to have released an individual studio album. Perhaps more than any other split that either has taken part in, including Sol, Wanderers: Astrology of the Nine, really does feel like it could serve as the fifth studio album of each act.

Our journey though the planets isn't told in sequence. We start with Mercury, but then skip to Mars, backtrack to Earth and Venus, before passing the asteroid belt and reaching Jupiter to complete the first disc of the album. Disc two picks up at Saturn, before going ahead to Neptune, back to Uranus and finally to the two part Pluto. Thematically it seems a little odd that they didn't follow the planets in order of distance from Sol, but then Holst didn't follow the traditional order either. I expect this was done for reasons of musical flow, because the order of tracks on the album does present something that feels very natural. I'll have to re-order the album sometime to see how it works by switching the tracks around. The ordering does also mean that the album does not follow a strict baton pass between the two acts, with Mare Cognitum getting two consecutive tracks on disc 1.

The burning question over the release, at least for those who don't make atmospheric black metal or even black metal in general one of their main listening interests, is whether almost two hours is too much for one release even with two artists performing and does it outstay its welcome? After all, it's well known that Mare Cognitum and Spectral Lore are on very close pages with their takes on atmospheric black metal and that's been even more apparent since they first released Sol together. Well, if it was two lesser bands attempting this then the results might be very different. But Mare Cognitum and Spectral Lore both happen to be acts that are among those are the very top of their game in the current scene. Both have released albums of the top tier like Phobos Monolith (2014) and III (2014) respectively. Working together they produce the kind of music that is a clear example of something being better than the sum of its parts. And when the parts were top notch to begin with you're dealing with something really special.

Are both artists evenly matched or does one get an edge over the other? Honestly that will come down to prior personal preferences I think. First impressions told me that Mare Cognitum had a split edge on Spectral Lore here, but the latter closed the gap after several listens to the album and the Spectral Lore tracks proved themselves to be growers. Of the Pluto tracks the first one, subtitled Exodus Through the Frozen Wastes, sees the duo instead performing space ambient music, as they did on Sol's collaborative track Red Giant. Ambient undertones can be found across the whole release, but this is the only time they fully embrace it. For the second part of Pluto, The Astral Bridge, the pair debut their music metal full collaboration together. Perhaps not unexpectedly it's one of the album's very best tracks.

Arguably Wanderers: Astrology of the Nine is the most essential release of either Mare Cognitum or Spectral Lore to date. Quite possibly it is the first masterpiece that the black metal genre has produced in the 2020s, setting the bar that others will have to aim for from this point forward, the acts themselves included when they release new material without the other's support. It's very rare that could be said about something which is primarily a split, a format that for most artists I personally don't pay any attention to. But with Wanderers: Astrology of the Nine it feels like maybe more like-minded artists should get together for releases like this. For my money it may be the greatest split ever released.

MARE COGNITUM Phobos Monolith

Album · 2014 · Atmospheric Black Metal
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Those who say that there is no atmosphere in space should check out Jacob Buczarski's Mare Cognitum project, whose Phobos Monolith is a masterpiece of atmospheric black metal. Mare Cognitum is not the only black metal project in this field - Darkspace is there, for instance - but whereas Darkspace produces material reminiscent of a cold, empty, uncaring void, Mare Cognitum creates an impression of deep space as being a transcendent realm teeming with unseen power and potential. This sense of wonder, shared by music and lyrics alike, sets Mare Cognitum apart from the pack, and on Phobos Monolith it is brilliantly realised.

MARE COGNITUM Luminiferous Aether

Album · 2016 · Atmospheric Black Metal
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On Luminiferous Aether, Mare Cognitum play an accessible style of atmospheric black metal which feels almost orchestral - not in terms of the instrumentation, mind, but in terms of the production and the atmosphere that production enables. The album has a really "big" sound, creating the sense that project helmsman Jacob Buczarski is playing his instruments in the middle of a vast, empty concert hall, his music blasting the cobwebs out of the deserted seats and echoing through the darkened aisles.

To say that the production is the best thing about the album may sound like damning with faint praise, but I honestly don't mean it that way. The thing about atmospheric black metal is that it's all about the atmosphere - the clue is rather in the subgenre name - and it's easy to underestimate how important production is to that, but this album really illustrates the difference a really artistically apt production aesthetic makes.

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