Welding the wretched, misanthropic flayed-flesh rawness of depressive suicidal black metal with the ringing, hypnotic, and varied textures of atmospheric black metal, Dauþuz have succeeded in recording one of the best black metal albums of 2017 in Die Grubenmähre. After the lulling notes of the acoustic intro “Remincere”, Die Grubenmähre asserts itself with a punchy drum fill and refuses to relinquish the listener’s ear. Expertly spaced interludes, acoustic or otherwise, provide shelter to make the album easily digestible in a single sitting and contrast starkly with the album’s intensity. Formed in 2016, Dauþuz are a relatively new band, but the bandmembers’ years of experience in other bands is obvious in the polished, perfectly produced grooves of Die Grubenmähre. In short: this is a very good album.
Die Grubenmähre is one of those special black metal albums that is beautiful in a way that is impossible to properly express to people who don’t listen to metal. As is so often the case in metal, the melodies, stripped of the distortion, the manic pace, and the raw production, are downright gorgeous. The melodies forming the core of each song in Die Grubenmähre, played on a harp, would lull a songbird to sleep. But this is black metal — and all that disfiguration of melodies into twisted cemeterial wrought-iron versions of themselves works in a profound way that is greater than the sum of its parts. Die Grubenmähre is a special album that makes these melodies, deformed and scarred almost beyond recognizability, sound natural and obvious — as if just the way they’re played on Die Grubenmähre is the highest expression of those melodies, the most perfect rendition to exist.
Die Grubenmähre is filled with moments like these, aided and abetted by a platter of vocal styles and punchy drumming. Dauþuz’ Syderyth oozes vocal talent, running the gamut of extreme metal techniques: there’s low end death growls, high pitched black metal shrieks, spoken word/whispering, and DSBM-style wailing. Every style is executed at the appropriate times and remarkably well, but the DSBM wailing in particular elevates Die Grubenmähre another notch. Notoriously difficult to do without descending into Silencer-esque parody, Syderyth’s wails sound expansive and harrowing over the cold tremolo melodies of Die Grubenmähre.
The rhythm section deserves commendation as well. The drums sound cavernous and sharp — never muffled or restrained. Somehow, the production preserves some of the heart-palpitating, tactile explosive feeling live drums provide without making them too loud. The amazing production job even preserves the workmanlike thrum of the bass rounding out the sound while preserving the cold treble spear of the tremolo leads. Speaking of tremolo — the guitar tone is gold-standard for the genre. A little tremolo reverb collapses the notes into an undulating cascade, a coursing ice-cold stream that is as powerful as it is capricious, meandering up and down the fretboard in a beautifully triumphant declaration of music. Die Grubenmähre has a passion for the grandiose as well. Listen to how Dauþuz isolates a cool tremolo riff at 1:33 in “Kerker der Ewigkeit”. As the rest of the band joins back in, the sense of charging into battle on the strength of a powerful riff creates an intensely epic, morale-boosting experience. It’s a neat little trick, and Dauþuz harnesses it more than once to amplify the more bombastic sections of the album.
Die Grubenmähre‘s penchant for the dramatic is counterpointed on opposite sides of the metal spectrum: on one side, the frequent instrumental acoustic interludes break up the tension and bring the album back to earth; on the other, Die Grubenmähre wields moments of intense brutality and violence, devoid of any pretense. The result is an album of exquisite variety, an album that can howl from the void or strum by a fireside.
Die Grubenmähre is an exceptional work, and a landmark achievement for the burgeoning Dauþuz. Consistent throughout, the hypnotic tremolo beauty of Die Grubenmähre will appeal to even casual listeners of black metal, and may serve as a gateway into the wonderful worlds of atmoblack and DSBM.