Part of me finds the cover for Mare Cognitum’s third full length odd, while the other half is convincing the former that it is all part of a new realm of black metal. Mare Cognitum is a one man black metal outfit who seems to be entirely obsessed with the darkness that dwells in space. I have been familiar and friendly with Mare Cognitum since his 2011 debut The Sea Which Has Become Known. It has been a few years and I am pleased to realize that his new album, Phobos Monolith, is perhaps the best work from the creator and probably one of the more enjoyable atmospheric black metal records of the year.
Space is a vast theme with multiple angles. Unlike Darkspace, Mare Cognitum retains some starry eyed wonder for the mysteries held between the darkness. Unlike his previous two records, the cover for Phobos Monolith is bright and iridescent with violets and whites. Additionally, Mare Cognitum’s music is starting to embrace multi layered flourishes, such as the guitar cascade on “Weaving the Thread of Transcendence” or the half tempo acoustic accents on “Noumenon.” These changes in the music, along with a continual maturing of his abstract and transcendent lyrics, allows Phobos Monolith to step out as a solid record that can be embraced by crowds outside of atmospheric black metal.
I have made mention before how atmospheric black is flooded with bands that easily mimic the sound. Phobos Monolith is special as it allows the style of music to fully embrace its thematic focus and makes those style choices interesting. Why not have a record dedicated to the majesty of deep space filled with wandering atmospheres? There has been a lot of atmospheric black metal records in the past decade but Mare Cognitum will never cease to be interesting or entertaining with his records.