PICK OF THE WEEK: Häxanu thrust black metal to fit cosmic tastes on physically spiking ‘Totenpass’

Black metal is a strange and overpopulated kingdom that is littered with tons of creators doing similar versions of the same thing, though I’m sure their hearts and minds are in the right place. It’s the same thing that plagues a lot of metal’s terrain, a problem of too much access and not enough special substance. It can’t be easy to break out of that doldrum and find and create something truly exciting.

That’s one of the things that makes bands such as Häxanu so captivating in that they take many of black metal’s elements and bend them to their will, filling each crevice with passion and electricity that blasts through your chest. Comprised of multi-instrumentalist Alex Poole (Chaos Moon) and vocalist L.C. (Lichmagick), this band lashes back with their second record “Totenpass,” a seven-track, 45-minute sojourn into fire and ice, black metal skullduggery and melody that has many of the origin’s spirits in the mix. There’s no need to reinvent or try to find new paths when you already have a channeled, freely bleeding line into the subgenre’s heart, and the way this band goes about things and what they commit to record is monstrous and brain-mangling, music that reminds that freshness still can rise to the surface in a style run rampant.

“Θάρσει” is a brief opening instrumental with acoustics and rushing waters, flowing into “Death Euphoria” that rips and blisters, shrieks raining down like nails from heaven. The playing sweeps you up into a storm, the leads capture your spirit and squeeze your sanity, and the throaty howls from L.C. register deep within your muscles and push you into oblivion. Dual-headed “Thriambus – Threnoidia” is the longest track at 14:40, and it dawns with energetic leads electrifying, the shrieks getting into your flesh and elevating your body temperature. Synth swells as the playing gets more intense, cold waters rush and leave you shivering, and icy shrieks jab flesh, pairing with guitars that make the room spin. Everything explodes as L.C. screams, “No remorse!” as every element multiplies, shrieks drive like a storm, and sharp riffs rattle your bones as everything ends in a flaming heap.

“Sparagmos” runs a healthy 10:25, stirring with a frantic energy, beastly howls hurling hammers at your face. The guitars hit stun mode as they race with a fervor, the vocals scrape flesh, and desperate cries make your anxiety truck, everything frozen over by a synth glaze. Battering, pummeling fires rage, the shrieks deface, and the elements slowly fade into a welcoming horizon. “Ephòdion” explodes and overwhelms, L.C. howling, “Burn me with your sacred fire,” as the guitars rally around that request. Melodies invade and mount an offensive, murky keys add a thick fog to confound your thinking, and speed stampedes as the energy finally burns out. “οὐδεὶς ἀθάνατος” is a quick, solemn interlude, feeling spacious and haunting, leading to the closing title track that blisters as it explodes from the gates. Drums march as beastly wails land heavy blows, the atmospheric guitar work swimming through mystery. Grim spirits walk freely as relentless riffs spill blood, the vocals rampage, and fiery melodies soar, bringing down the final hammers on a physically demanding adventure.

With so much to mine in the black metal fields, finding something as intense and challenging as “Totenpass” is a gift that devastates long after the music is done. Häxanu’s mission is but two albums deep so far, but they already have established they’re a force truly their own, something that is cemented into the black metal foundation but isn’t following plan or structures as their build their world. This album feels like it lives and breathes, changing its formation just slightly with each listen, warping your mind along the way.  

To buy the album, go here: https://shop.amor-fati-productions.de/en/

For more on the label, go here: https://www.facebook.com/amorfatiprod/