Dauþuz – Vom schwarzen Schmied Review

If you think about it, is there a more “metal” job than being a miner? Overworked and underpaid, working in dark, dangerous, unhealthy, claustrophobic conditions (in this respect there are similarities to being an AMG reviewer…). You break your back providing the raw resources that power the development of civilization but are ultimately cast aside, like a broken hard-hat, when silicosis wrecks your lungs. German black metal band Dauþuz (Death) have created an discography based on mining in Europe. Vom schwarzen Schmied (Of the Blacksmith) is their fourth full-length, following 2019’s Monvmenvm, which received the TYMHM treatment from this esteemed blog. An enthusiastic Muppet called it an underground (haha) gem, extolling its “psychotic vocals” and “plentiful riffs.” I was slightly less enamored, and found it an entertaining—if unremarkable—collection. Have this Germanic duo struck gold this time?

Dauþuz, for the uninitiated, play a traditional brand of black metal that fuses the staples of the first and second wave with vocals on the DSBM end of the spectrum. What sets the band apart from peers is not only their strong commitment to their aesthetic, but the (subtle) addition of folk and melodic influences. This is not an awkward hybrid, but rather, black metal honed on the whetstone of well-established influences. While not catchy per se, Dauþuz do rely more on riffs than many of their counterparts. Vom schwarzen Schmied deviates little from the formula established on the previous albums and like them it is long. At just shy of an hour, it’s a lot of black metal, and while the album does occasionally suffer from too much repetition, these guys have such an intuitive feel for how to make black metal interesting and compelling, that it whizzes by.

Vom schwarzen Schmied ain’t the band’s first black metal mining-themed rodeo, and it shows. These songs are crafted in a way that’s energetic and compelling. The folk and chanting elements are unobtrusive, but lend the album verisimilitude and authenticity. The songs weave superb guitar work (this is some of the best tremolo picking I’ve heard this year) with a natural understanding of structure. Loud alternates with soft, fast with slow, mournful with angry, in a very organic and logical way, which is very pleasing to the blackened ear. Even the chanting and spoken word add to the aesthetic rather than detracting from it. Both “Der Eid” and “Zauberwerk” demonstrate this intelligent songwriting to great effect. Vom schwarzen Schmied is full of intuitive songwriting like this and it’s a delight.

The downside to Vom schwarzen Schmied is that Dauþuz are tinkering with their own formula, rather than advancing it. The themes, styles, and structures of the songs are all very similar to their previous output; those looking for the band to expand upon their template are going to be disappointed. This similarity to previous work extends to track and album length. While the songs are varied enough that they do not drag individually, when placed together, Vom schwarzen Schmied can become a bit wearying. An hour of demented howls is quite a lot, and there are a few tracks (the seven-minute “Sagenlieder” and the nearly 12-minute “Sargdeckel”) that could have benefited from some gentle trimming or editing. The drumming is sometimes on the generic side, which stands out when the rest of the musicianship is so excellent.

Overall, Vom schwarzen Schmied is one of the better black metal albums of the past few months. There’s no reinvention of the genre happening here, but a combination of superb guitar work, doing the basics well, and just enough gentle additions and tweaks, makes for another extremely satisfying entry in a rock-solid catalog for Dauþuz. With a little more ambition, and some judicious editing, they’ll be knocking on the top tier of black metal. In the meantime, fans of the genre should get their hard hats on and dive in.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 10 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Amor Fati Productions
Websites: dauthuzbm.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/dauthuzbm
Released Worldwide: November 12th, 2021

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