Mare Cognitum/Spectral Lore
Sol

I am not sure I have ever heard a more perfect marriage on a split release than Sol, the 3 song, almost 70 fucking minute, Sun themed opus from two of the more exiting, new, one man black metal projects going right now. Both released stunning CDs last year; Mare Cognitum‘s An Extraconscious Lucidity, and Spectral Lore‘s Sentinel and split with Locust Leaves which ended up on my year end list.

First up is Mare Cognitum‘s “Sol Ourobouros” from American Jacob Buczarski, a sprawling, almost 30 minute number that renders a cosmic, ethereal beauty to shrill, epic black metal. And while a large chunk of the track is atmospherics and ambiance that imbues stars, novas and cosmic coldness, it collides beautifully with tremolo picked riffs, restrained marches and rasped shrieks. The track is enthralling and a kaleidoscopic journey through space and time and those transitions between black metal and spacey shimmering atmospherics make for a song that, while hardly a quick catchy listen, is simply hypnotic. In one song, Mare Cognitum pack what would be an entire ep’s worth of songs for many bands into one track. 12 minutes in gives the listener an extended mid song break to sit back and take in the depth of space, before the guitars fade back in with rapturous, regal authority and less vocals. The track ends with a surprisingly harsh, discordant couple of minutes, showing Buczarski can do more than just star gaze.

Spectral Lore‘s song, while a couple of minutes shorter is virtually the same breadth and scope in cosmic/spacey elegance, and I could rightfully copy and paste the above paragraph to describe it. There is equal majestic, cosmic black metal and cold, empyrean atmospheres befitting clusters of stars and galaxies forming. Both bands sound pretty similar on tone and structure, but Greek one man act Spectral Lore, has a slightly beefier back bone and just that slight edge in ability to craft memorable moments, not just a sprawling visage (as heard on “Duty” from the Locust Leaves Split). With “Sol Medius”, Spectral Lore brainchild Ayloss is able to craft a track of individual sonic vignettes such as the stunning bridge at 7:36 – 9.13. As with Mare Cognitum‘s track, there is an extended, mid song ambient break, and though the song takes a while to get going again, when it does come back with searing melodies and rousing synths at the 19:00 mark, its utterly breathtaking.

The last track is a 14 minute, combined atmospheric effort from both bands titled “Red Giant”. And while it fits the theme and vision of both bands, it is a bit of a letdown compared to the the 2 previous tracks, being a jangly, shimmery instrumental number that sounds like something played in the background at a Planetarium. Still, it does not change the fact Sol is arguably one of the best split releases of recent memory, as it is one of those rare splits that is worth your money for the amount of music contained and is the perfect fit where both acts are inherently linked by sound and concept as well as brilliant at delivering both.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by E. Thomas
June 18th, 2013

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