Album Review: Anger | Altuz
After walking through untrodden forests with Glamourie’s enchanting ‘Imaginal Stage’ we are ready to dive into deep, dark waters with the second exciting entry I promised for this week. Coming from Long Island, NY, Altuz is an artist that creates using experiential, highly private material and offers his soul boldly through raw lyricism, fierce instrumentals and unrestrained realism. Without further ado…
As we are transferred to a realm not far from hell, dramatic strings, reved up guitars and heavy percussion create an emotionally abundant space of anger and depression, nerve and futility: A carousel I can't get off. The combo of rough hip-hop and sentimentality brings Linkin Park to mind even though Altuz exhibits a softer approach towards metal. The nightmarish 'Introduction' followed by 'Carousel' make for vigorous opening and a perfect sample of what is about to unfold. Perfect timing for 'The Fall' if you're listening on October: Weather's slowly changing, sun is setting, I grow tired, ideal for the ones who feel melancholic and more esoteric. The chords, lyrics and performance style here will be most appreciated by fans of Corbin. Seductively sad, 'The Fall' is an accurate expression of the existential crisis and depression many of us have been through at some point: Everything I've worked for is somehow washed away, what have I become?'. As the artist's vocals get furious towards the end, screaming at the top of his lungs, the climax feels heart-breaking to say the least.
At this point, I’m taking another good look of the intense album cover which is the most fitting visual for this mood. In 'Breath Out' we are cleverly brought before a deal between Altuz and the devil where the artist attempts to escape this world: 'Just let me die in this darkness for soon I will no longer feel pain'. Altuz crosses the boundaries of honesty and self-control, unapologetically expressing his extreme feelings: I might as well kill the people around me who don't give a damn how I feel. It's only terrifying to witness a human reaching such extremes and it's even scarier to think of their mental state, struggling to handle the desperate chaos, to get out alive and sane. The unique concept of a deal with the devil, its theatrical perspective and the emotional background of it, make ‘Breath Out’ one of the most standout pieces in 'Anger'.
In the middle of the journey we find the artist at his most humble and vulnerable, begging for one chance to live his life better than before. ‘In Between’ is a beautifully sorrowful, alternative rock ballad that sets itself apart by successfully incorporating a hip hop performance, offering a more human/less romantic touch to the track. It's Altuz at his most fragile, standing on the edge of the highest mountain, having this crucial inner dialogue that will decide life from this point on. And then, dull screams and climactic keys open the homonymous ‘Anger’, promising a super powerful sequel which indeed comes in waves. As the artist is compassionately singing 'You’ve been working hard for far too long - You’ll always be heard, harmonizing with a choir of his own vocal layers, our defenses are destroyed and the tears cannot be held. ‘Anger’ is an extremely personal and detailed confession of the artist that sends the listener to witness devastating events and private dialogues, so real that it’s impossible to not relate or stay unmoved. I’m pausing here for a moment to realize that I can’t remember the last time I listened to an album as raw and unfiltered, both lyrically and performance-wise.
With chills on the skin, we are led to the epilogue titled ‘I Love My Life’, the most hopeful closure for an album of this emotional baggage. The waterworks turn on again as the artist is restlessly wondering if he is strong enough to hold back the patterns he grew up in: Will I be just like my dad, will I give my kids what I never had. And as he is repeatedly singing ‘l love my life’ throughout the chorus, it’s as if we are given this helping hand, this friendly advice that, in the end, life is life and no matter the hardship, our existence is still a miraculous gift. 'I Love My Life' is proof of the work done by the artist to reach the end of the tunnel, to become a better version of himself, for himself. The brightest paradigm showing that our past is only an obstacle but never an excuse to repeat hurtful patterns and lose our humanity.
Through Anger, Altuz is throwing himself in the darkest basement to look his traumatic past in the eye, exorcize the hurtful events and forgive in order to heal his trauma. Like a werewolf trying to not transform into the uncontrollable monster he can be, an image that makes my personal translation of the album's cover artwork. Anger goes among the blog’s favourite LPs for 2022 for it manages to say it all in seven comprehensive tracks effortlessly, without blabbering, without beautifying any part of the story. It’s a highly intense experience made for ears that are ready to listen, for minds that are willing to work their way to the light. A great ‘Thank you’ goes to Altuz for the fearlessness and selflessness that let this body of work exist out in the world. Cheers!
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