The dynamic songwriter confronts his demons across the metal inspired album, ‘Anger’.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

An emotive lyricist who’s invariably worn his heart upon his sleeve, Altuz’s career to date has seen him consistently remain unapologetically true to himself. Divulging his mental battles, family matters, and chilling contemplations of suicide, the Long Island musician has routinely delivered introspective bodies of work, with his challenging themes and transparent lyricism constituting a safe space for listeners to empathise with his internal conflicts.

Possessing a varied and eclectic taste, Altuz’s dynamic approach to music has already seen him dabble in an array of sounds. A hip-hop afficionado at heart, his lyrical prowess has frequently asserted its dominance on bar heavy hip-hop albums such as the impressive 2018 album, ‘Daniel in the Lion’s Den’. But keen to prove himself as a multifaceted talent, subsequent albums such as ‘Guitars & 808s’ and ‘Steel Strings & Whiskey’ have shone a light on his absorbing songwriting abilities, with his acoustic fronted rap songs laying an experimental benchmark for future endeavours.

Altuz has previously fused Hip-Hop and Rock on 2019’s ‘Guitars and 808s’.

Back with his self-proclaimed rawest album to date, the New York prodigy continues to experiment with his sound, this time adopting the visceral elements of Hard-Rock. A devastating delineation of the pain and resentment which resides within his head, ‘Anger’ represents a turbulent journey from mental instability towards gratification and self-assurance. The opening ‘Introduction’ portrays Altuz in a conflicting mindset, through which a chilling dialogue between a demonic alter-ego and himself immediately induces an ominous atmosphere. “Don’t you wanna be a good person?”, the voice probes, precisely laying the foundation for the themes of repression and self-doubt which proceed to dominate the project.

A cross-over typically considered as polarising, Altuz capitalises on the emotional value of a Rap-Metal fusion, with tracks such as ‘Carousel’ leveraging every ounce of despondency from within his fractured mind. Finding comfort amongst “these skeletons I’m sheltered with”, the Long Island songwriter depicts the state of acceptance as the world around him comes crashing down – submitting himself to the darkness, as portrayed through the innocent whistles which find themselves in competition with the hellish riffs and the fateful vocal mix. Resigned to the fact that he’s a “hostage to the fall”, the following track delivers some excruciating lyrics which signify the outlook of a broken man. Made with the intention of being his “swan song”, lyrics such as “the sun is setting soon” are made to feel that much more powerful, with the heart-rending strings and exasperated vocals inducing an extremely poignant tone.

Stream ‘Anger’ by Altuz on Spotify.

While at his lowest, Altuz can frequently be heard romanticising these feelings of worthlessness, making love with his depression as he struggles to find an escape. The nihilistic ‘Breathe Out’ serves as the pinnacle of despair, a slow-burning acoustic track which detonates into the discordant guitar riffs, suffocating Altuz as he pleads, “Lord don’t make me breathe back in”.

But while his fate was all but sealed, ‘In Between’ presents the briefest of changes in mentality, enough to spark a revival against these feelings of futility and anguish. The mark of a turning point for the album, Altuz can be heard begging for mercy, while recognising the duality of black and white thoughts, of which he nimbly likens to that of a chequerboard. Culminating in a shredding electric guitar solo, the adept songwriter showcases invaluable levels of resilience, confronting his conflicting thoughts among what is a truly inspirational track. This upwards trajectory continues into the title-track ‘Anger’, a love-letter which symbolically denotes the impact of metal as an outlet for him to offload this animosity, screaming out every ounce of pain until his lungs bleed. Demonstrating remarkable levels of growth across this 6-minute masterpiece, the grandiosity of the chamber elements signifies a man who’s successfully managed to rationalise his thoughts, regaining control as he clambers out of the doldrums.

‘I Love My Life’ constitutes a bittersweet ending to what was an astounding narration of personal growth. While now at peace with the knowledge that these problems merely reside within his head, there remains a dubious, cynical mentality, as he fearfully asks, “will my problems still follow me?”. A brutal, honest, and raw portrayal of depression, Altuz’s haunting vocals and vivid songwriting elicit a truly impactful body of work. Whether stunned, touched, or motivated by this emphatic piece of music, the album’s challenging themes and introspective lyrics are a testament to Altuz’s tenacious character. Just 7 tracks and 26 minutes in length, ‘Anger’ is undoubtedly one of the most visceral and inspirational albums I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing throughout 2022.

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