There is always a risk returning to a progressive entity’s early works. Listeners who have perhaps only heard the later works of a composer may be disappointed by a perceived lack of progression. Especially if they are not aware that what they are listening to was a pre-existing piece of work. So it is wise to approach this ‘new’ release from American band Mare Cognitum with a little caution.

Originally released in 2011, The Sea Which Has Become Known is actually the first work under this banner from American multi-instrumentalist Jacob Buczarski. If you are new to the name, then you will safely be able to disregard my caveat emptor. Just enjoy this release for what it is.

Fans of Buczarski’s later work (he performs everything on this and other Mare Cognitum releases) may find some of the material necessarily naïve. However all the hallmarks that make later releases such as Luminiferous Aether (2016) so compelling are to be found here.

Appreciators of latterday black metal expositors such as Ghost Bath and Deafheaven may find parts of A Vain Lament comforting in their familiarity. However for the most part, since this was written almost a decade ago, the stylistics employed are rather more prosaic.

Buczarski builds vast sheets of guitar as a backdrop to almost everything. Upon this he hurls idea after idea, in the process developing an almost hypnotic state for the listener. This is only occasionally interrupted by a searing ‘lead’ guitar line or almost ever-present guttural, roaring vocals. Only occasionally, and most tellingly on Lustrate, does melody fully take hold.

Vehement Coalescence is primitive, vicious black metal full of blast beats and serrated guitar sounds. This is perhaps the purest evidence of the project’s black metal pedigree. The song is chaotic in the extreme yet hangs together with perhaps more coherence than other parts of the album. It is sure to be most appealing to listeners more steeped in the casually brutal side of black metal.

It is interesting to hear the album now having heard Buczarski’s other Mare Cognitum efforts. The seeds of what was to come are clearly evident here. But there is a juggernaut heaviness at play on this album that is part exuberance, part naivety and part sheer for-the-hell-of -it-rawness that the later releases seem to lack that means this album may be the band at it’s most universally appealing to casual black metal listeners.

The Sea That Has Become Known will be released by I, Voidhanger Records on January 19th.