Thursday, March 31, 2016

Mare Cognitum - Phobos Monolith

Phobos Monolith is a stunning example of modern atmospheric black metal. With this album, Mare Cognitum features intricate instrumentation, creative use of nuances, and frantic dynamic shifts, all held together by a beautiful sense of melody. At times, the layers and dynamic changes throughout Phobos Monolith can feel overwhelming, suffocating; this is the experience! It is a thrilling, emotional ride through majestic imagery of outer space.

Mainman Jacob Buczarski displays a fantastic sense of melody throughout, aided by notably clear production. While Phobos Monolith usually has a lot going on, you are bound to notice the bold and enticing leads, flowing organically around crisp and very intense drumming. Even the rhythm guitar is spotlighted, from the frantic, death metal-esque riffs on "Entropic Hallucinations" and "Ephemeral Entities," to flowing arpeggios aside keys on "Noumenon." Atmospheric black metal, a nuanced genre, sometimes risks overdoing its native drone influence. With this level of detail in the instrumentation, this is never the case on Phobos Monolith. Just as you attune to all the layers in a given moment, a twist or complete turn is thrown in, consistently keeping your attention.

Of note besides Phobos Monolith's melodicism are the downright stunning dynamic shifts. Mare Cognitum's dynamic play sometimes nods to crescendo/climax-based post black metal, such as in the insanely satisfying blast-beat releases on opener "Weaving the Thread of Transcendence." This nod is not constant, however, as these dynamic shifts are sometimes very sudden. Closer "Ephemeral Entities" just keeps building a suffocating melodic black metal assault, while "Entropic Hallucinations" is a frantic bombardment of interchanging riffs. This album covers a lot of ground within modern melodic black metal, both a synthesis of existing styles and a unique product.

The 2010s have been a fantastic time for black metal. There are artists pushing almost every aspect of this diverse family. With artists like Mare Cognitum delivering melodic/atmospheric black metal of this caliber, the future of black metal looks brighter still... Darker still? Better.

Thank you for reading!

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