As Mare Cognitum, Portland-area black metal artist Jacob Buczarski aptly captures a sense of all-consuming devastation on his crushing new album Solar Paroxysm, which is available now from Extraconscious Records and I, Voidhanger Records.
The journey through Solar Paroxysm features moments wracked with raw anguish, as desperate and emotively disorienting melodies rush through the mix, but there’s no stopping the metaphysical — and paradigm-breaking — destruction that the album reflects. Thanks to the album’s profound force, there’s no apparent choice but a solemn reorientation regarding the very nature of human existence — or at least, what “human existence” entails at present. Within the record’s teeming world, it’s time to ponder our limits.
The record evokes a sense that opportunities to avert the unfolding catastrophe have vanished, no matter the frenzy with which one might search for another path.
The album is electrifyingly energetic and thoroughly scorching, with mesmerizing dynamics and formidably powerful weight. Its craterous tracks land with a resounding air of finality, like — as the apocalyptic cover art suggests — fiery meteors slamming into an already barren wasteland. Thus, the energy feels relatively inescapable, but there is a chance to observe the desolation, and the music at times gets so grandiose that the stormy tumult seems to stretch across planet after planet, covering everywhere that’s known and viewable. Listening feels like a sudden infusion of the petrifying knowledge of this ruin.
Mare Cognitum employs a relatively unbroken stream of sound across Solar Paroxysm, which seems to play scenes of apocalyptic devastation on a loop as the instrumentation builds across long stretches of the dynamic but persistently blistering melee.
There’s an underlying sense of emotional strain — especially at moments like the track “Frozen Star Divinization,” where the swinging guitars and monumental drums seem to get particularly dramatic — but these feelings largely seem subsumed by the storm-wracked volcanic tides reflected across the album as a whole.
Tone-wise, the music often feels abrasive and physically formidable, with thunderous and jarringly heavy instrumentals that are, for the most part, quite briskly paced. There are no sudden arrivals at patches of recording-induced atmosphere that one might find in wintry lo-fi black metal. Instead, the music feels, in a way, relatively crisp — the songs are unrelentingly direct, seeming to shake the earth.
The songs also feel quite thick — although “Frozen Star Divinization” ends in part with a guitar solo, which: one, reminds you that you’re listening to an intricately impressive metal record, and two, suggests the compelling grandiosity that defines some of the processes within the natural world that humanity has often seemed ready throughout recent history to disregard in the name of destructive expansion.
Every track is dynamic. After a few minutes, album opener “Antaresian” begins to ease up somewhat, while follow-up track “Frozen Star Divinization” highlights fiery bursts of energy as the music bounds ahead.
“Terra Requiem,” the title of the record’s third track, which features some of its slowest instrumentation, aptly summarizes the experience. Ahead of a stormy ending, the song packs dragged out hits as Mare Cognitum delivers what sounds like a woeful requiem on behalf of the earth as humanity knew it. Some of the guitars themselves feel like they’re roaring, as though the far reaches of the universe itself have somehow joined in the processional.
“Terra Requiem” closes with a somber lyrical proclamation: “We’ll pay with the ashes of our humanity/ And cease to walk upon this earth/ And the earth will forget our name.”
The album sonically reflects these sentiments. As it closes, Mare Cognitum seems to focus on a kind of grandiose pummeling, outlining a personalized look at existential collapse.
Listen to Solar Paroxysm below!