In just a few short years, the German duo Dauþuz has established itself as a powerful voice in atmospheric black metal. Since its start in 2016, the band has released three full-length albums and two substantial EPs of consistently impeccable music. Although no one ought to be tuning in to music this accomplished strictly for its thematic approach, Dauþuz also stands out because of their lyrical and aesthetic focus on mining.
Of course, mining is hardly a new subject for music as a whole. There’s a long history of bluegrass and other Appalachian folk music, not to mention Panopticon’s Kentucky or Steve Earle’s latest album Ghosts of West Virginia. In the British context, the coal miners’ strikes of the mid-1980s were a notable contributing factor to the more general anti-Thatcher bent of the anarcho punk scene at the time, as well as the sonically compatible industrial scene (see most particularly Test Dept’s collaboration with the South Wales Striking Miners’ Choir, Shoulder to Shoulder).
The frequent acoustic guitar and clean vocals, however, also give this delightful EP more than a little Bergtatt flavor, but the rhythmic contrast between the guitar work and the drumming is where the mining focus makes its mark. See between the 3- and 4-minute mark of the opening track for a drum pattern that pairs a bass kick to a snare in a way that seems intended to evoke the clanking of mining equipment. Each of the three songs on offer in this EP are lengthy, slowly shifting affairs, but rather than lapsing into pleasant background melodies, there’s always some sharpness to keep the listener’s focus from wandering. This is driving, impassioned, sweeping, melodic black metal that still retains an edge of both fervor and ferocity.
In particular, the vocals from Syderyth G are an impressive range of always expressive styles, from standard rasps to clean, almost Falkenbach dramatic singing, and from forceful yells to almost strangled, Burzum/early Helheim shrieks. The EP plays pretty seamlessly as a whole, which means that the songs are not terribly distinct or self-contained, but also that it’s easy (and highly recommended) to sink into these 35 minutes with the expectation of taking a guided journey through moods of both contemplation and fury. That said, the rolling melody that emerges just before 8 minutes in the closing track is one of the most purely blissful things to be had here, particularly as the drums give it that perfect after-the-beat goosing. Multi-instrumentalist Argonyth S frames out some incredible cymbal fills to complement the high-fret tremolo work of the pre-acoustic outro, which is yet another small flourish proving that there are always new shades to be found in this otherwise familiar black metal palette.
I don’t know that Daupuz has yet released a true masterpiece, but every one of their releases has been a consummately professional, inspired, and almost flawlessly executed bit of second wave comfort food. Grab your helmet and pickaxe and follow these wizards to your beautiful doom.