It’s always difficult to choose songs for these Sunday columns, not because the pickings are slim but because of the constant abundance of music from the black realms that catch my fancy every week. This week I thought I might have time to make the choosing a bit easier by making more choices. I haven’t written Part 2 yet, and it’s conceivable that I won’t finish it in time for posting today before I have to turn to other activities. But if not today, then you’ll see it on Monday.
Before we turn to the music of this German duo, let’s have a small lesson about the band’s name and its pronunciation. “Dauþuz” is a Proto-Germanic or Norse word for death. In its spelling it includes a letter (þ) from Old Norse called thorn, which (as The Font of All Human Knowledge tells us) originated from a rune found in Icelandic and Norwegian rune poems. That rune is called Þurs in Old Norse (“Thurs”) or Þurisaz (“Thurisaz”) in its Germanic variant, and it appeared in the old rune poems as a name for giants.
The letter thorn (or þorn ) survives in only one modern language — Icelandic — where it’s pronounced something like th as in the English word thick, but not exactly. And so now, when you tell your friends how amazed you are by this band’s music, you’ll be able to do so without mutilating the pronunciation of their name by sticking an unwelcome “P” sound in the middle of it. But you probably knew that already.