Band: Spectral Lore & Mare Cognitum Album: Wanderers: Astrology of the Nine Country: Greece Genre: Atmospheric Black Metal, Post-Black Metal Quality: Mp3, 320 kbps Tracklist: 1. Referencing Wanderers: Astrology Of The Nine, 3xLP, Album, Ltd, Ora, ET-04, IVR125LP From the Melodies to the Rhythms, everything that sounds in this album is Amazing. The quality and execution of the themes, the production sound, the bestial Cover Artwork. The last two songs are collaborations between Mare Cognitum and Spectral Lore. Recording information: Mare Cognitum tracks recorded & mixed at Entropic Recordings, 2016-2019. Spectral Loreand Mare Cognitumare both one-man black metal bands, (from Greece and the US respectively), and this is their latest collaborative split. No stranger to teaming up with each other, these two atmospheric black metal bands have created an epic project with Wanderers: Astrology of the Nine.
After hours upon hours of listening, I am finally getting around to Spectral Lore and Mare Cognitum’s 2020 split album. Both projects are among the earliest black metal artists to venture beyond Earth itself and expand their palettes to capture the sounds of the universe with cosmic black metal. The derivative genre of cosmic black metal is one of limitless potential because of the universe’s infinite status. Spectral Lore and Mare Cognitum have worked together in the past with their collaboration Sol which was a fine piece of diverse black metal showing off their separate skills. Its concept, like the majority of cosmic black metal so far, was too broad and non-descript though causing the musical story to be lost in translation. That doesn’t mean there haven’t been any great records from the subgenre, but I’ve questioned when an artist would take that extra step and create a cohesive story that one can follow along with “easier”. By dialling the infinite universe back to a more finite area of focus that is still grand in size, Spectral Lore and Mare Cognitum’s second split Wanderers: Astrology of the Nine fills my hope for such a record.
Wanderer’s: Astrology of the Nine is a harsh and epic two hour masterpiece that drags the listener through the Milky Way galaxy passing by every planet and witnessing its wonder. Each track represents a planet along with its place in astrology and Roman mythology varying in style and intensity. Throughout the record, Ayloss of Spectral Lore and Jacob Buczarski of Mare Cognitum switch between being the solo artist on tracks. Normally split albums tend to falter from the artists involved having too much of a difference in sound causing records to sound like they’re taking turns. This becomes especially true when dealing with concept albums; growing in difficulty the larger the concept. Spectral Lore and Mare Cognitum overcome this hurdle with flying colors by finding a middle ground while retaining specific qualities that set them apart. Ayloss has more of a melodic focus in his parts and Buczarski is heavier with death metal fused within his pieces counteracted by spacious refrains to avoid overwhelming levels of brutality. These two make a collaboration of this size seem almost easy with its fluidity.
Beginning the record is Spectral Lore on “Mercury (The Virtuous)” easing into the Wanderer’s: Astrology of the Nine carefully with an atmospheric collage of guitars with occasional notes soaring like comets across the production. Blast beats then enter the mix increasing intensity before entering a whirlwind of brisk guitar riffs. Following is “Mars (The Warrior)” handled by Mare Cognitum which is kind of odd with its placement being the fourth planet in the solar system. My guess is to stagger both artists’ performances at the beginning based on who fits the planets’ physical qualities and mythology the best. It makes sense having the heavier Mare Cognitum represent Mars, named after the Roman god of war, and Spectral Lore represent the cold planet within the innermost circle of the solar system named after the messenger of the gods, Mercury. This attention to detail put into every track is phenomenal and gives the concept behind the record a significant layer of clarity and life.
Not only does every track fit the planet it is named after, but the technical prowess put into them is phenomenal. Compositions constantly transform providing countless memorable moments that never feel stale and grow in magnitude throughout Wanderer’s: Astrology of the Nine. Buczarski’s is airtight with his compositions and arrangements in particular making his more acoustic refrains more satisfying after the relentless brutality that precedes them. He even blurs the lines one may pick up between the two artists with grandiose melodic moments most prominent on the last half of “Neptune (The Mystic)”. Ayloss on the other hand creates melodic mosaics that emit indescribable emotions by switching into atmospheric passages on tracks like “Earth (The Mother)” and “Saturn (The Rebel)”. He’s not afraid to slow it down himself becoming almost ambient near the backend of “Uranus (The Fallen)” to contrast his heaviest moment on the record.
The production quality on Wanderer’s: Astrology of the Nine meets everything I like to hear in black metal. It is astonishingly beautiful even during the darker moments – just more subtle. However, there is still enough grit within the distortion to accent the intensity black metal requires. Plus every instrument and sound is so clear. The growls and shrieks sprinkled across the record are never too loud and play a role in elevating the atmospheres. Ayloss’s production in particular is insanely clear with prominent basslines in his tracks adding an extra layer to digest to match the density of Buczarski’s pieces. The production also plays a big role in making transitions from each track almost unnoticeable. Each track fades into the bulk of the song then fades out at the end keeping a tone that is similar to adjacent tracks even on Mare Cognitum’s fifteen minute goliath “Jupiter (The Giant)”.
The crown jewel to Wanderer’s: Astrology of the Nine is the two-part finale “Pluto (The Gatekeeper)”. Spectral Lore and Mare Cognitum come together on both tracks to make the ultimate ending to such an ambitious record. Part one is eleven and a half minutes in length composed entirely of cold ambient textures representing the vast space between the rest of the Milky Way and Pluto. I will admit that they could have cut it down a little, but they do their best to enthrall the listener with the staticy air, sharply textured feedback that never becomes overwhelming, and the frigid yet vibrant synths that flow into the second part. That spacious aesthetic is then shattered as the record creeps towards the outermost area of the solar system on the legendary “Pluto (The Gatekeeper), Pt. 2: The Astral Bridge”. Everything both artists brought to the table up to this point is put on display, brilliantly fused and epitomized, illustrating the harsh environment that holds the solar system together before subsiding as it reaches the edge of the Milky Way.
Wanderer’s: Astrology of the Nine is a masterpiece. Even with a couple of very brief moments that could have been more refined, Spectral Lore and Mare Cognitum were able to create some of the most attention grabbing black metal I’ve heard in awhile for the entirety of the record’s two hour length. A record this ambitious had all the potential in the world to fail at the hands of the broad and complex concept, immense length, and the juxtaposition of both artists’ styles. Somehow, none of that happened. Instead each aspect played a role in making the others work exceptionally. I have a newfound respect for these guys and although I cannot call this entirely perfect, this will go down as one of the strongest cosmic black metal albums ever.
Wanderers Astrology Of The Nine Vinyl
Favorite Tracks: “Mercury (The Virtuous)”; “Mars (The Warrior)”; “Venus (The Priestess)”; “Jupiter (The Giant)”; “Saturn (The Rebel)”; “Neptune (The Mystic)”; “Uranus (The Fallen)”; “Pluto (The Gatekeeper), Pt. 2: The Astral Bridge”
Label: Entropic Recordings
Genres: Cosmic Black Metal, Atmospheric Black Metal, Blackened Death Metal, Ambient
Remember this is all my opinion and I would like to hear yours. Love it, hate it, anyways I can improve on my presentation? Make sure to subscribe to the blog by WordPress or email to receive notifications of new reviews that come up. Who knows, you could find a gem you otherwise would have missed. And of course, keep being a music nerd!
- Very Good
- Bottom of the Barrel
After doing a split album in 2013, Mare Cognitum's indefatiguable Jacob Buczarski and Spectral Lore's Ayloss have produced an LP -- and an ambitious one. No one can accuse either of keeping their tracks short and radio-friendly, and here they exercise their talents to the fullest in an concept album of the solar system, with each track representing a planet (Pluto gets two).
Spectral Lore takes on Mercury for the first track, a haze of layered tremolo picking, sharp and treble until it builds up to a dominating melody; Mare Cognitum then tackles Mars, beginning with chunky riffing that invokes death metal more than the trademark orchestral melodies Buczarski is best known for, but towards the end, the ghostly melody coalesces up out of the chaos beneath. The Earth track, one of my favorites, is a solemn hymn with a beat that only speeds up towards the end of the track, led along by indulgent lead guitar work.
Wanderers Astrology Of The Niners
As we pass on to the two largest gas giants and things get slower and doomier for them; Mare Cognitum gives Neptune the high-speed treatment, clear and melodic in his unique style, while Spectral Lore's impressions of Uranus are hazy blends of riffing with clean portions in between. Both musicians collaborate on Pluto, with the first track being keyboard ambient with no hint of black metal, and the second a departure from both band's guitar-driven sound. To a mechanized beat that would be at home on the last two Summoning albums, a slow melody winds out towards the listener; halfway through, the guitars take over and begin thrashing, fading out into the vastness of space beyond.
I hadn't gotten to hear the original collaboration between these two bands, but in terms of quality, the Spectral Lore tracks are very close, if not equal, to the Mare Cognitum ones. In addition to the sound they're known for, the two bands try out plenty of new ideas, making Wanderers definitely worth a purchase.