Black Metal, Metal

Häxanu – Totenpass (Review)

Bands: Häxanu
Release: Totenpass
Genre: Black Metal
Country: USA
Release Date:5th of February, 2023
Released viaAmor Fati Productions
Cover ArtworkAdam Burke

Hailing from Portland, Oregon and being the brainchild of Alexander Poole, who is known for his work in many different Black Metal Projects such as Krieg, Chaos Moon, Ringare, Entheogen etc., Häxanu are releasing their 2nd record titled Totenpass via Amor Fati Productions as the follow-up to 2020’s Snare of Salvation. Containing a beautiful cover artwork by Adam Burke, Totenpass pulls you right in with soothing acoustic guitars before kicking in full gear.

Those familiar with acts such as Sargeist, Spectral Wound and old Mgla, should feel at home the moment Totenpass hits with its first true song and pre-released single “Death Euphoria”. During the records 46 min runtime, Häxanu barely let up, providing a constant onslaught of fast and melodic tremolo riffing, punishing blast beats and just enough sprinkles of melody and background keys (reminiscent of the mighty Emperor) to keep things interesting. Long-track and album highlight “Thriambus -Threnoidia” demonstrates the 90’s worshipping approach quite well, combining all the familiar elements to achieve an abrasive and captivating sound. Listeners can expect a clear and strict demonstration of the vision the creators wanted to provide with this release. Sure, Häxanu are not re-inventing the wheel here but each contributor is more than technically capable of bringing enough to the table to ensure the sound remains fresh and exciting enough throughout the 8 tracks offered. The record’s crisp and punchy but rough enough production also works more than sufficient in that regard.

Despite offering a great throwback to the genres 2nd wave highlights, Totenpass is not free from its flaws though. While its uncompromising beginning feels rather exciting and rewarding, the album’s middle section is becoming rather stale, with songs being difficult to differentiate between each other. The “no holds barred” approach is clearly intended and executed more than well but ultimately hinders the record’s replay value. Although there are quieter and more ambient moments, such as the acoustic passages, they are ultimately too brief to provide enough variation. The title track, however, is closing the record on a definite high note. With its more subdued approach, Totenpass works extremely well in offering a satisfying conclusion and acting as a great contrast to the albums more direct and faster tracks.

Offering a great early entry into 2023’s Black Metal release canon, Häxanu will surely please a lot of Black Metal fans looking for a straight-forward, riff-driven album to bang their heads to. With further variation and individuality added into the mix, chances for Häxanu climbing up the ladder even further seem pretty good.

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