We’ve been following Italian extreme / death act Pulvis Et Umbra for a while now, and caught up with core member and songwriter Damy a couple of years back in Edinburgh when he was over on holiday. The first place we took him was a nice little bar called Bannermans, known for its great music and good choice of beers and whiskies.
Fast forward to 2017 and PeU’s first headline date in Scotland, and we find ourselves in the same venue. Damy and his band have organised a 4-date trip around the UK to get their name out there and started the whole shebang of in Scotland’s capital, a stone’s throw (if you can throw really hard) from the famed Castle. Local bands surround them at all the venues, making each date unique. Tonight we have Dolour and Iron Altar, both from right here in Edinburgh.
With a late start of 9pm, Dolour get things going with their hard and heavy sludge style. Usually, this isn’t quite my cup of warm blood, but there’s something about Dolour that really works for me. Partly it’s the image and performance. Frontman Gregor Meldrum manages to convey shrieking/grunting madness in his vocals along side humour in his body language. Not content with just devastating the crowd with his voice, he engages well with an audience obviously made up mainly of mates.
Bassist Ian Munro’s instrument is slung as low as the notes he’s chucking out, the bridge of his bass sitting at around knee level. With his dreadlocks and fuzzy beard he pretty much visually sums up the word “sludge” and his rhythms keep the whole act in check. Mal Coppins and Garth Walker hit the high notes (well, comparatively) on guitar through each track of the short set, while Thomas Lawrie’s drums blast out. The sound is spot on, the band are fun and the crowd definitely enjoy the show.
After a brief changeover, Iron Altar step up and raise the tempo a little. Billed as groove / metalcore they’re one of those acts that you just give up classifying and settle on “metal”. There’s a bit of everything in there, but most of all… fun. Dolour and Pulvis Et Umbra are in the crowd as well as the paying punters, as Iron Altar chug through songs from their self-titled EP. Andrew Callis is a revelation on vocals, every bit the showman as Meldrum, going as far as to remove his top after a couple of songs as he’s really getting a sweat on from the effort he’s putting in.
One of the guitarists spends a song or two on the dancefloor headbanging along with Dolour’s vocalist, the crowd are encouraged forwards (which a couple tentatively do) and some individual moshing begins. This is a small gig, there aren’t many people here (which is a crying shame), but those who are, are definitely lapping up the music on offer. The rest of the band are a little less exuberant, focusing on accuracy and their concentration is rewarded with a very tight, and very enjoyable set.
It’s approaching 11pm when Damy and Pulvis Et Umbra take to the stage with a set encompassing all three of their albums, including this year’s Atmosfear. Damy essentially is PeU, the albums being pretty much a one-man effort, but the live/session musicians he’s brought with him chuck out the tunes as if they were there when they were written. Unusually, there’s no bass – just two guitars, drums and Damy on vocals. The sound quality, unfortunately, isn’t quite as good for them as it had been for the other two acts, and Damy’s lower-end vocals get lost in the mix. His harsher screams make it through just fine, though.
Both guitarists get on with their job with skill and precision, despite a manic Damy bouncing into them every now and again, an absolute bundle of rage-fueled energy. If he’s not eyeballing the crowd and spitting vocals at them, he’s leaping the air, moshing with his bandmates or rattling around on the dancefloor starting pits with the support acts (all of whom remained to watch – credit to them, this is how it should be done). I have to draw attention to the drums as well, as multiple blast-beats and insane rhythms were handled with alacrity by the chap on the stool at the back. Apologies, I didn’t catch his name, but I heard at least one member of Iron Altar telling him how impressed he was after the show.
Pulvis Et Umbra put on a great show to a small crowd. Hopefully they’ll get a bigger audience with each of the remaining dates. Damy’s energy is infectious and once that spark ignites, a venue can erupt.
The remaining dates are as follows, all pay on the door and all featuring some great acts as well as PeU. Note that the Halloween show includes a fancy dress competition and that tonight’s show in Manchester is a fundraiser for the victims of the recent terror attacks.
- Oct 29 – Night and Day Café, Manchester (with headliner Vice, Stormrider and With the Wolves) £6 entry
- Oct 31 – Asylum 2, Birmingham (with Absolution and Absinthropy) £4 entry
- Nov 5 – Boston Music Room, London (with headliner Abhorrent Decimation, Bangover, Subservience and Pupil Slicer) £8 entry
All photos by Iain Purdie for Moshville Times (with assistance from Gary Cooper)