This is the second album from US black metal act Häxanu.
Featuring a current/ex-member of bands such as Chaos Moon, Krieg, Ringarë, Skáphe, and Manetheren, Totenpass contains 45 minutes of sleek melodic black metal with plenty of experience.
The music on this album is instantly satisfying in the way that only good quality black metal can be. Traditional and classic in style, tone, and feel, Totenpass never sounds dated or tired, and instead blasts by with timeless melodic vigour.
The songs are cold and spectral, with glittering melodies that speak of cosmic depths and star-strewn nebulae. The songs are well-written, and although Häxanu have clearly paid close attention to all of the musical aspects on display, it’s the melodies that are typically the most striking and infectious. Peer closer though, and the full extent of the songs’ esoteric construction is revealed, demonstrating a band with a keen understanding of their sharp blackened art. Whether flaying skin with blazing speed or building dark atmosphere with vivid intensity, (or usually both simultaneously), these songs are affecting and compelling.
I like the vocals very much. They’re mainly expressive snarls or impassioned screams that are piercing and aggressive, but other styles are also unleashed; I particularly like the use of growls here and there. Whatever he is doing, the singer’s performance is first-rate.
Totenpass is an exceptional record. My only complaint, as is always the case, is the pointless intro and interlude tracks. Even with these though, this is a glorious album. Fans of Scandinavian black metal, especially of the Swedish variety, need to pay attention to what Häxanu are offering here.
Very highly recommended.