During the early spring of 2020, HÄXANU made their bolt-from-the-blue debut, Snare of All Salvation, courtesy of AMOR FATI. Despite their newness, the duo included extremely prolific multi-instrumentalist Alex Poole - renown for his long-running Chaos Moon as well as Krieg, Skáphe, Ringare, and Guðveiki among many others - and vocalist/lyricist L.C. of Lichmagick. Indeed, the record bore Poole's distinctive touch, a stargazing surge that was equal parts violent hysteria and shimmering mysticism: undeniably black metal, but also subtly unique.
And so it goes with Totenpass, the duo's second full-length together. With somber acoustics clearing the palate and preparing the listener for the spectral immersion to follow, HÄXANU here command a more classic style of black metal that has equal footing in Nordic snow and Hellenic melody. One could qualify Totenpass as a more triumphant counterpart to its not-inconsiderable predecessor, and you'd not be wrong. However, press on into that snow (and melody) and one will find a wider canvas of emotions and sensations here, an almost-unquenchable thirst that courses through the album's seven-song/46-minute runtime. And while Snare of Salvation introduced a literally massive 17-minute title track, Totenpass finds HÄXANU embracing the epic to an even greater degree, obviously with this album's closing title track but more so the 10-minute "Sparagmos" and the nearly 15-minute couplet of "Thriambus" and "Threnoidia." Thankfully, the urgency found on that first album is still clear and present here, no matter the length of track nor texture being explored.
An invitation to the dear listener to "receive thine inheritance and renew thy covenant with the flesh and the blood of the now," as L.C. succinctly puts it, HÄXANU continue their enviable ascent with Totenpass.