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Altruism - "Internal Dialogue" (CD/EP)

Altruism - "Internal Dialogue" CD/EP cover image

"Internal Dialogue" track listing:

1. Catalyst
2. Dischord, Disperse!
3. The Cul de Sac of Monotheism
4. Internal Dialogue
5. The Few

Reviewed by on June 27, 2010

"What Altruism has on 'Internal Dialogue' is a decent attempt at defining their sound – lots of grit, metallic shoe-gaze, and off-the-wall energy."

Cork, Ireland’s Altruism is looking to break out to an international fan base with “Internal Dialogue.” What they’ve put out is a collection of grating, transgressive, and mosh-friendly songs with a bit of a progressive shoe-gaze feel to them. The songs flow from short to long, with the first, “Catalyst”, speeding by at two minutes and fifty-four seconds, and the last, “The Few”, clocking in at just under seventeen minutes in length. The sound is raw and has an ebb and flow to it, touching on the genres of hardcore, stoner rock, prog rock, and even a little bit of jazz.

“Catalyst” leads us into the album with a rant on modern society and the demands of the higher-ups in control, as they see it. “Dischord, Disperse!” begins with a guitar riff similar to that of early Black Sabbath and treads the murky waters of stoner doom metal for awhile. The song starts off with some rather uncoordinated drumming, but builds towards coordination in the midst of the doom sections. During much of this, one can’t help wishing the speedy kick drum hits were recorded with more clarity, as the kick drum gets muddy in the midst of all the hits. The guitar parts are discordant and heavy, but hardly memorable beyond just a few riffs.

The next song, “The Cul de Sac of Monotheism,” brings some much-needed resolution to the shoe-gaze elements played upon earlier. The song smacks of a Pelican influence and simmers occasionally, lightening here and there to build up again. The lyrics, however, are indiscernible. The vocals are heavily affected with distortion, and the clean singing is rare and lackluster. The most memorable guitar and bass lines on the album make this song stand out among the rest.

The title track, “Internal Dialogue,” is kicked off by furiously coordinated guitar, drum, and bass and pushed along into a series of twists and turns. The song has a bit of Mastodon influence to it. Heavily effected vocals and lackluster singing are still present, making for a hard listening experience again. The final monster of a song, “The Few,” starts out calmly introducing some musical themes which will soon be repeated on distorted guitars. There’s far too much barely-on-pitch singing on this song, but the intricacy of the instrumentation almost makes up for it. Some more musical themes are developed but not explored further as the song makes quick headlong turns of styles and discordant instrumentation, closing out the album abruptly.

On the whole, the songs don’t stick with recognizable themes enough to be memorable and the vocals can be done away with entirely. Unfortunately, this isn’t like death metal, where sometimes the indiscernible vocals assist the aesthetic heaviness of the song. The band might actually be better as an instrumental act because of how much attention is paid to the instrument parts. What Altruism has on “Internal Dialogue” is a decent attempt at defining their sound – lots of grit, metallic shoe-gaze, and off-the-wall energy. Things can only get better.

Highs: The bass guitar lines have quite a bite to them. The band’s coordination peaks at times for some really cool riffs and fills.

Lows: The band’s rhythm coordination needs work, the vocals are indistinguishable yells or aimless faint singing, and the overall mix isn’t too flattering.

Bottom line: Not too memorable, but worth checking out if you’d like to go apeshit crazy for a little while.

Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls
2.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)