When I first listened to Surtr's Pulvis et Umbra I felt that this whole review could be in one sentence: "Surtr plays doom metal in the vain of Warning.". It felt dull, uneventful and quite boring but after listening to few times the album started to grow into me.
The music might not offer huge surprises. It is slow and mournful. What differentiates Surtr from other doom acts that play slow and mournful is that while they are not re-inventing the feel with their music they do what they do really well. There are few problems with the writing. The songs seem to jump from tempo to another and from mood to another indiscriminatily, like the band is not sure what kind of feelings they want to conjure or what kind of music they want to play. This brakes the groove one gets into when listening to the music.
The production is okay. It is heavy and has low end but it doesn't feel warm. It feels quite distant and cold. Also lack of dynamics cause the music take a bit of a hit as everything is mixed so that every instrument is heard but there is no real punch to any of them. This seems to be a problem encountered more with mainstream releases that have avaibility of all that fancy digital technology and good studios.
Surtr show promise with their music but they need to concentrate on songwriting and what kind of music they want to play instead of trying to cram everything into their music. This might be of interested of hardcore doom fans but I wouldnt recommend this to anyone else.