Spectral Lore and Mare Cognitum team up to put out a massive, solar system spanning release titled Wanderers: Astrology Of The Nine. Prepare your brains for a journey to places, both inwards and outwards, while we explore the deepest depths of this black metal juggernaut.

Release date: March 13, 2020 | I, Voidhanger Records | Spectral Lore Bandcamp | Mare Cognitum Bandcamp

Welcome. Take my hand, as we begin to embark on this journey together which I can’t promise will be safe, but I can tell you that we will be feeling and experiencing things you may or may not need. Today, we voyage into the crushing endless void that is our cosmos. We will ride through our solar system, one planet at a time, and will take in everything they have to offer before moving on. Think of us as cosmic observers:

Just to be on the nose about what we’re examining today, it’s the Spectral Lore and Mare Cognitum split release Wanderers: Astrology Of The Nine. First thing to note is, of course, how bloody long this beast of an album is. Yeah, take it in and get comfortable, because we’re going to be here for a while. This album is not for the faint of hearts; both musically and length of release. Wanderers isn’t necessarily something to be taken in all at once, considering each track is a feast unto itself. It takes an effort to get through ten three-course meals in one sitting. But, alas, this is my duty. Brain, it’s been nice knowing you in your current form, I shall see you on the other side of this.

Spectral Lore and Mare Cognitum are both separately masters of atmospheric black metal. They both have their own identity and method when going about making this kind of noise. So, whichever you choose as your favorite, you’re going to be coming out a winner, especially if this kind of metal is your thing. For me, Spectral Lore creates that perfect kind of voided atmosphere which resonates with me on a profound level. Each passage that I endure feels right for the dark and scary place I call my mind. Then again, other days Mare Cognitum is the exact noise that I need, so who can really tell. Before my thoughts wander (zing) too far out into space and I veer way of course, let’s actually begin going through Wanderers.

Initially, it was the two singles – Mare Cognitum‘s “Mars (The Warrior)” and Spectral Lore‘s “Earth (The Mother)” – which were released that made me realize that I needed to review this album. “Mars” and “Earth” both felt like a full realization of the planets they were representing. Mars being exotic and curious and Earth being chaotically filled with emotions. Both were composed in the crushing metal we’re used to hearing from these two artists, yet they both come out feeling unique and complete. The drumming section near the end of “Earth (The Mother)” is one of the best things I have heard in a metal song to date and is nothing short of art.

Speaking of art, dat vinyl though! Look at it! Take it in. It’s beautiful! I tip my hat to the hugely talented Elijah Tamu and Francesco Gemelli for this iconic work and layout. There is something to be said when the art work captures the feel of the record so closely. The busyness of the noise, the collection of knowledge held within the cups drained from each planet, and, of course, the all powerful turtle in which we are all situated on the back off. We are veering off track again. I feel the vastness of space and the emptiness of it all. My mind races to fill the spaces.

The last and final tracks of this gargantuan record is the Pluto series: “Pluto: (The Gatekeeper Part I: Exodus Through The Frozen Wastes)” and Pluto: (The Gatekeeper Part II: The Astral Bridge)”. These songs were composed together by the two artists, not separately this time. The first of the Pluto’s gives us a much needed breath of ambient air, before we close off with “Pluto II”. “Pluto I” allows us to finally take in a deep breath to help process some of that sonic void we’ve been blasted with thus far. We can slow our minds and drift carelessly for a moment until part two brings the metal back. The closing track brings that feeling of closure with it, as all finales should. The deep inhale allowed us to prepare for the final journey across that astral bridge into the great unknown.

After about two hours of assault on on our brains, I can’t help but feel left with contemplation about what’s to come. Not what’s to come musically for these artists, rather inwardly in my own journey through the cosmos. I’ve been given these myriads of frequencies which have jumped through and across my logic thinking mind and straight to my reptilian emotional brain. I’m left feeling vulnerable in this infinite void of undiscovered nothingness. Left standing on this hunk of rock and dust, blasting through a dark and cold vacuum. All of this leaves me feeling lucky to have had this go at it all.

Contemplation of the universe. Certainly we all have those thoughts, much like Spectral Lore and Mare Cognitum. We express these feelings with thoughts and actions, but sometimes we are lucky enough to be given those musings through art – and that’s what Wanderers: Astrology Of The Nine is: art. A grand and sprawling statement for a grand and sprawling existence. One that we’ll only ever see a blink of.

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