I have levels of mistrust for labels that put out, like, 40 releases or more per year. How can you get all of that right? How can you ensure your audience that all of these bands and all of these records you release are worth your time? Answer is, they’re not.
This site always has gravitated more to the smaller labels. Not to be elitist. I love the attitude people have that if you don’t embrace the mainstream “underground” metal artists, you’re some kind of dick destroying metal. No. Maybe that music doesn’t resonate with us. It doesn’t for me. Which is why I love getting the occasional promo e-mails from I, Voidhanger, a label that doesn’t bombard you with a ton of new releases but certainly does a fine job hand picking the good ones. A few weeks back, they shot off another that was way more than worth my time, and two of those records we bring to you today. One is by Mare Cognitum, who we’ve discussed before and bears the Meat Mead Meat stamp of approval. The other is a bizarre band called Tongues, that really made a huge mark on me, as much for their music as their inventiveness.
We’ve visited with Mare Cognitum a few times in the past when we discussed 2012’s awesome “The Extraconscious Lucidity” and last year’s collaborative effort with Spectral Lore called “Sol.” The Santa Ana, Calif., based project is the brainchild of sole member Jacob Buczarski, who has used Mare Cognitum to reveal to the world his spacious, aggressive imagination, as well as his gift for creating atmospheric, wondrous black metal that reaches out into the cosmos. Buczarski is back with a new record “Phobos Monolith” that finds him branching his abilities out even further, returning with a stunning, forceful record that keeps in place the artistic template but also adds more color, texture, and volcanic eruptions. It’s a hell of a record, and it’s great to hear this project progressing with each new release.
“Weaving the Thread of Transcendence” opens the record with a heavy woosh of sound, clean guitars trickling, and the song eventually opening up in full, driving hard toward the meaty points of this 13:04 cut. The melodies are spacious and spread out over a great vastness, with the vocals erupting as a vicious growl that cuts and devastates. The drums really kick up dust about halfway through this one, as Buczarski glues his foot to the gas pedal and speeds forward, with shrieks piercing the calm and tremendous melody that is thick and deep. “Entropic Hallucinations” explodes open, with the growls sounding monstrous and menacing, and a cool synth glaze setting up behind all the lava flow. The track is even heavier than usual for Mare Cognitum, and even when the song hits some tempo dips, it always returns to power and force. The song really starts soaring as it reaches its back end, with an enveloping darkness making it hard to see your hands in front of your face and the madness spiraling out and leaving you gasping for breath.
“Noumenon” runs 13:06, and it takes its time setting up shop, with noise pockets thickening and piano notes dropping like thick drizzle. Buczarski sets up a great atmosphere and keeps playing from the heart, building thick layers of sound and stretching out the colors and textures. The vocals bleed in, remaining bloody and fiery, and some tremendous leads rip right into a gazey section that lets winds gust up and tear leaves from the trees. As the song reaches its final minutes, it’s impossible not to feel all the feelings. The fires are stoked hard as Buczarski reveals even more emotions lurking within him, and it’s easy to be completely overwhelmed by this track, in a really great way, of course. “Ephemeral Eternities” lasts 15:16, and the final moments of the preceding track flows right into this one. Like the songs before it, things don’t explode right away, as a mood is set and colors are dashed over the canvas before a burning hammer is thrown through it. The vocals are more death metal-oriented in spots, and there are some great thrashy sections here, where Buczarski chugs hard and makes you want to drive a car through a house. The music cascades hard down on everything, the sense of aural violence is everywhere, and the track gives one last good thrashing before it fades out, bringing this excellent album to a thunderous finish. Mare Cognitum are a pretty consistent band, and this project really seems to be coming into its own as Buczarski sharpens his musical tools.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/MareCognitumMusic
Tongues are a Danish outfit as bizarre and dizzying as heavy and pulverizing. Putting an exact label on what this band–Thorbjorn on guitars, vocals, bass, organ, and Qvortrup on drums, vocals, and lyrics–is pretty difficult. There is plenty of darkness to be absorbed on their debut EP “Thelesis Ignus,” and you can pull strains of black metal and doom from this cloudy, stormy cavern. The band claims to reach beyond the physical and into how the mind and soul correlate with the body and our experiences. So we’re not just being pummeled here. There’s a method to all of this and a greater mission beyond mere metal, something all of us could experience with them as we are all living beings.
“Void Meditation” opens the proceedings, running 10:05 and giving you a strong dose of what’s ahead. The opening is weird and suspenseful, like a curtain is going up to reveal a strange ritual behind it. The growls are gurgly and lurching, with the drums taking on a tribal tone and the entire thing feeling hypnotic. As the track moves along, it gets heavier and more hostile, with the vocals getting screechier and the guitars going off. Things hit thick pits of sludge, the pace and path are unpredictable, and the track comes to a furious ending. “Will of Fire” feels like blurry black metal at the start, with strong, burly growls and later some whispery messages as the song gets a little mystical. The band hits on a massive, killer groove, with crazed playing that defines “all-over-the-map” creativity, and a fire-breathing, devastating last few minutes that seek to deliver an unquestioned knockout blow.
“Last Grip of the Hand of Guilt” has a static-splashed start before it delves into mean death metal trauma. The track has moments that are absolutely hellish, sometimes slowing down to make the beating more deliberate, other times pouring gasoline on the blaze. The playing is relentless and unforgiving, and then black metal stallions gallop with a fury and flatten everything in its wake. The drums tear apart everything, the vocals go absolutely insane, and the aggression keeps multiplying itself before it dissolves into dissonance. “Bloodline of the Blind” is the closer, as “Last Grip” smashes its final moments into the song. This track is completely different from everything else on the record and shows you a haunting, spookier side of the band. The track is made up of strings, weird buzzing and ambiance, and vocals that come buzzed from the throat, like a beast of an insect is delivering this take on Adam and Cain’s tale. It’s a really strange, sometimes upsetting song that could chill the hell out of you, and despite how disturbing it is, you cannot turn away from this track until it finally lets go and allows you to return to some semblance of order. This is a really promising, gripping debut from a new band whose future really could go in any number of directions. Whatever they pick, it’s bound to be horrifying.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/tungerne
So there you have it: Two more strong releases from I, Voidhanger, a label that seems quite content to remain in the underground, serving up the darkest, most fierce that world has to offer. Both bands could not sound any different, but those who swear by the label’s offerings, or anyone who wants something a little more challenging and rewarding in their lives would do themselves good by experiencing both Mare Cognitum’s and Tongues’ new work. You also know by the way the label carefully hand-picks their bands and releases, that they stand by these records wholly and heartfully.
To buy either album, go here: http://www.i-voidhanger.com/mailorder.htm
For more on the label, go here: http://www.i-voidhanger.com/