The artist behind Mare Cognitum is one of the absolute best in the genre when it comes to atmospheric black metal. I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing Phobos Monolith, Luminiferous Aether, and last year’s colossal Wanderers: Astrology of the Nine – Split with Spectral Lore, and his stellar material just keeps getting better and better and better. I wasn’t expecting another release so soon after Wanderers, but I’m very pleased to be mistaken; Solar Paroxysm contains 58 minutes of pure sonic brilliance.
The artist has a way with riffs. It’s not just about how damn good they are either, (they are), but also about how they fit together with everything around them and how they seamlessly transition from one to the next, building a vast tapestry of sound within which the listener can easily become absorbed. Add to this the melodies…ohh, the melodies! The man is an absolute master of melody. Combined with the precise, expressive drum work and the searing vocals, the lengthy songs on Solar Paroxysm are simply stunning and immersive.
The longform compositions are expertly crafted to set the scene and tell stories that are very affecting and have rich emotion and evocative feeling deeply woven into them. When the songs speak, you listen, and the tales they tell are a catalogue of cosmic drama, supernova energy, and riotous colour. Each track is an explosive masterclass in melodic worldbuilding and atmospheric creation. Frequently blistering in intensity and dripping with aggressive bite, this is a largely fast and furious incarnation of Mare Cognitum. The songs are fired up by passionate fervour, and are epic expressions of a scything fiery ferocity that sits at the heart of the band’s existence. There’s definitely nuance and variety here though, and above all a thorough appreciation for where the songs are going and what they are doing when they get there. The songwriting is above reproach in this, and indeed all areas, and every song is a world unto itself ripe for exploration.
It’s hard for me to compare Solar Paroxysm in any meaningful way to the rest of Mare Cognitum’s exemplary discography, and especially to last year’s release, which I probably consider the band’s best, simply because I know the rest of the band’s work so much better. I am pretty confident, however, in stating that it’s going to be up there with the best of them, and as the year develops, might even get higher in my end of year list than Wanderers did. A bold claim, and it’s still early days yet for 2021, but make no mistake; Solar Paroxysm is sheer magnificence from start to finish.