A collective realization of our precious planet's profound universal insignificance is something Carl Sagan famously illustrated in his Pale Blue Dot; however astute, lo and behold, the principle simply has not stuck. In a human era further up its own ass than perhaps any before, we've neglected to protect and properly sustain the very ship that sails us through this vast and hugely unknowable cosmos. A dire set of circumstances it is, no doubt, especially considering there is no Planet B, and double-especially because we keep on making Planet A even worse.

Have our imaginations been so dulled and fucked that we've forgotten to look up at a night sky and wonder in bewilderment, "woah, this entire goddamn planet could be instantaneously vaporized by a stray gamma ray burst at any moment?"

Mine hasn't. Cue Mare Cognitum's latest ode and opus Solar Paroxysm, a blossoming slab of space black metal that stabs the heart of what I'm talking about here. This extreme and atmospheric music, both sharp and evocative, helps illustrate how disproportionately minimal our true significance is to our perceived significance -- losing yourself in its churning descents and lofty accelerations amounts to a hefty but sobering pleasure of replacing your self-perception for a grander and more powerful one.

I love space black metal for two reasons: a) it fuckin' rips, and b) it makes for some of the best meditative music out there. Minimizing yourself at the helm of far more universal concepts than mere individualism -- just like the Pale Blue Dot -- is not necessarily the message of this particular music, but it sure seems to be the end result, at least for me. This is music you experience more so than listen to, at least most of the time, and such cinematic can't-pause drama is on display throughout Solar Paroxysm, mastered sharp and clean and with doles of high-volume fidelity.

Taken as art, which it is, albums from bands like Mare Cognitum (especially this one) help develop that oceanic feeling inside of us, that thought as you stare out into something so unimaginably large, "wow, I am so unimaginably small." We all are, even though some of us act big. Being the best steward of our ship, so to speak, requires some element of this realization, and admittedly, it's a realization that is tougher and tougher to arrive at, as of late. For that reason and more, I am grateful for this expansive and delicate soundscape -- and to Mare Cogintum's credit, there's a reason this project is at the forefront of this frankly brutal and all-encompassing sound.

Here's to you, space black metal. Stream Solar Paroxysm's melodic opening song "Antaresian" below.


Solar Paroxysm releases March 19th on I, Voidhanger Records and Extraconscious Records.


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