In just under two weeks, Italian metal will be returning to South African shores in the shape of Pulvis et Umbra: having chatted briefly with founder, composer and frontman Damy Mojitodka, I am thrilled to share some of his insights and comments regarding what we can expect.
This ‘DIY Tour’, as Damy terms it, is less of a serious selection of concerts and more of a “visiting friends again with some more metal” outing. Their previous visit may have happened under a bit of a cloud, coming across as a ‘consolation prize’ for South African metalheads who had recently lost out on a full-scale festival and had to make do with just a few acts supporting Polish giants Behemoth.  Pulvis et Umbra capitalised on this, however, and made a many contacts among the “friendly, crazy headbangers who know how to support local or international bands.” In fact, the South African audience have been favourably compared to Russian crowds by Pulvis et Umbra – only are described as more open and better suited to “making people comfortable.” Damy himself admits to regularly chatting via social media channels with the friends he made during his last trip to Johannesburg.
With two shows lined up  – one in Cape Town on 8 December with support from Devilspeak and Wargrave and one in Pretoria on 10 December (supported by a massive line up including Theatre Runs Red, Bleeding Spawn, Bloodbeast, Spectral Realm, My Columbine, Forsaken Fortress and Sufferance!) – fans can expect nothing less than a concert where they can “have fun, interact and forget about shitty problems.” Pulvis et Umbra hail from a fairly solid thrash metal foundation, so it comes as no surprise that their primary objective is to “perform a good show and make people happy” – the founding ethos of many party metal bands throughout history. Damy is also, thankfully, no diva: instead of hiding backstage he sincerely hopes to “blast [his]ears with some good ZA metal before his turn” on stage. Please guys, don’t buy him too many drinks before his slot.
Among the many treats in the offing, a collaboration piece – ‘Crows Belong to Her’ – between Pulvis et Umbra and Durban-based Theatre Runs Red is one of the new songs the band will debut on stage. Despite having misgivings about collaborations and their associated label interference, Damy praises singer Lilitu for her kindness and professionalism. Lilitu, when asked for a response, stated that after experiencing the energy he brought to his live performance in Johannesburg “when he approached me to do a track with him my answer was yes without an extra thought!” 
These misgivings carry over to the lack of a formal line up in the band – Damy’s ‘going solo’ approach requires some serious practice with session musicians beforehand, but it does pay off in giving him more time and focus during the recording process. This one-man-metal method may historically be linked to black metal, but the new album – Atmosfear, due in 2017 – includes influences from ambient to polyrhythms on top of the expected death/grind/thrash crossover previously explored; a classification Damy describes as ‘No Poser Italian Metal’.
On top of the new album, 2017 looks to be a good year for Pulvis et Umbra – while nothing has been confirmed, Damy hints at returning to Japan, Russia and possibly the US to promote Atmosfear. For now, we’ll see you in South Africa.
Thanks to Damy for his time. Check out Pulvis et Umbra on Facebook.
1. See the Broken Amp report on this show for more details.
2. The events are detailed on Pulvis et Umbra’s Facebook page.
3. The track has been featured on a CD accompanying issue #104 of Legacy Magazine.
First and foremost, why South Africa? How did you initially get on the bill supporting Behemoth in Johannesburg [read our report here] and why did you decide to come back?
Good question. Well, at first I have to say that at the time we succeed to being feat. in the supporting bill of Witchfest 2016 thanks to my former management then we were “kept” for the Behemoth supporting bill because among the few bands who had already booked the flight ticket for South Africa, so WitchDoctor had two easy solutions; keep us in the bill or refund 4 flight tickets.
I decided to come back for two reason….. I didn’t like how things were managed in March, beside the fact that Behemoth decided to speed up the “meet & greet” after the show, even if there were people who drove several hours to come to the show. I got chance to meet several great people at Bassline, and got such awesome feedback and drinking time. Besides that, you South African people are friendly, crazy headbangers and know how to support local or international bands. I’m sure these points could be the main reason why I booked this DIY tour… I consider more a kind of “visiting friends again with some more metal” than a concert, hahaha. I can’t wait to land my ass there and spend the time after the show drinking and talking with everyone.
Are South African metal crowds very different to Italian audiences?
Well, to be honest I found some comparison with the Russian crowd (also for the drinking point, hahaha) but you make people very comfortable. You know, I’m talking weekly with ZA people via Facebook, Twitter or Whatsapp and I appreciate that you makes foreigner feels like home. I’m sure it’s a part of the feeling that is worldwide known as “mal d’Africa”.  The Italian audience is usually more interested only in main bands or specially with the ones who come from outside, there’s no real support for the local scene even if our underground scene is full of awesome bands.
What can the local fans expect from the upcoming shows?
A bunch of guys who wanna spend rock ‘n’ roll time all together; I grew up in the underground scene and my favorite venues to perform are the “hardcore style” ones, so you could feel the crowd singing in your ears or even literally surround you hahaha. I think that many bands forget that you must always be respectful that you have to share with the audience. People go to concerts to have fun, interact and forget about shitty problems, so our main goal is perform a good show and make people happy.
There is a large cross-section of our local talent being showcased before your show, is there anyone on the lineup you’re really looking forward to watching?
Hard question, especially because there are many other bands I cannot add to the bill; I hope to succeed in seeing all the performance because I’m in touch with Bloodbeast and Spectral Realm before our first visit to ZA. I know also that My Columbine and Forsaken Fortress are writing new material and I checked some Youtube stuff from Theatre Runs Red and Bleeding Spawn so I can’t wait to hear how they sound on stage. Surely also Sufferance looks like an interesting band, and this event will give me chance to blast my ears with some good ZA metal before my turn, heheh.
You recently collaborated with Lilitu from Theatre Runs Red – can you describe the process and what we can expect from the result? Will she be joining you on stage for a live version?
Sure. Cooperation started months ago when I wrote a black metal song for a girl who lives in Cape town (a sort of music present) and I discovered that she’s a fan of Theatre Runs Red, so I asked Lilitu if was interested in performing guest vocals on that song. I’m usually not a fan of featuring because – especially nowadays – is just an excuse by bands or label to get more audience, but this was not the case. Lilitu is a very kind and professional person, I was happy to receive a Theatre Runs Red tank shirt before our gig at Bassline, and each time I think back about that concert I’m happy to think that it’s not only Lilitu’s feature on the song ‘Crows Belong To Her’ … all ZA people I met are in so I can keep you all “closer” with my music.
You generally work with session musicians for live shows; do you think this is more difficult or easier than having a consistent band line-up?
Actually it’s easier because I meet session musicians only for practice before touring and they work better in less time, instead of having a full line-up not totally focused on investing in the project; it also makes me earn a lot of time in the recording process. Surely is not an easy process to involve yourself in at the beginning but it’s worth it.
Your style blends elements of death, grind and thrash with touches of melodic death for a fairly mixed result: how would you classify Pulvis et Umbra?
Thanks for this feedback. Well, actually I don’t wanna classify music anymore, I just divide it into “good” and “not stuff to listen to”, hahaha. Especially because the new album will include also influences which go from ambient, black metal, polyrhythms etc.. I like the definition “No Poser Italian Metal” because I can put everything in that expression ahahahah 😀
After this, what’s next for Pulvis et Umbra? Any hints for your next album?
Yes, the new album Atmosfear is fully instrumentally recorded; I’ll schedule tracking of the vocal lines once we’ll be back to Italy from ZA, and hopefully it will be ready for late January having already a help distribution for US and Japan.
And lastly, where would you like your next international shows to happen?
We’re waiting some confirmation for the new year, so actually there’s nothing confirmed. Surely I’d like to perform again in Japan and Russia, and playing in the US will be a blast for my thrash metal roots. We’ll see, in the meantime see you all at the gig!
1. According to the Italian Wikipedia page, ‘mal d’Africa’ is a sense of nostalgia after visiting Africa and a desire to return.