Artist: Angelus Apatrida
Album Title: Angelus Apatrida
Label: Century Media Records
Date of Release: 5 February 2021
It makes me feel really old when a band, born in the early noughties is celebrating its 20th anniversary. I mean, damnit, I was in my 20s when Spanish thrash metal band Angelus Apatrida were formed in 2001. Over the course of the last two decades, the Albacete-based quartet have released six full-length albums, with this self-titled affair, their seventh overall. It is fair to say that, despite finding themselves on the Century Media roster, they have failed to fully break into the highest echelons of their chosen genre, but maybe ‘Angelus Apatrida’ will do the business?
I don’t know if it’s because of my recently rediscovered love of thrash, or if I’m just in a bad mood due to illness or lockdown v3 fatigue. Either way, I’m finding the abrasive, violent, and aggressive thrash attack of this album to be right up my alley at the current time.
From minute one, these four Spaniards go for the jugular. They are angry, they are revved-up, and they deliver a little over 45 minutes of intense thrash metal, full of speed, power, attitude, groove and riffs galore. There’s a certain amount of nostalgia at play, as Angelus Apatrida are clearly inspired by the first wave of US thrash from the 80s and 90s. However, the ten tracks on this self-titled affair also sound fresh, invigorating, and a perfect fit for 2021. Maybe it’s the fact that the world is quickly turning into a dystopian nightmare before our very eyes, but the venom and hunger with which these songs are delivered cannot be understated or overlooked. As far as this band are concerned, two decades in the metal world have not softened them one little bit.
I may be hearing things, but I hear an echo or two of Pantera at their most extreme within the Angelus Apatrida sound. Vocalist Guillermo Izquierdo has a hint or two of Phil Anselmo about him, such as within ‘Empire Of Shame’ as one example. That said, I also hear a hint of a number of other prominent thrash vocalists in his caustic, gruff delivery and tone too. Then there’s the groove, which is brilliantly placed and expertly executed, once again raising a ghost or two of Pantera in the process. I’ll leave you to tell me if I’m way off the mark there though.
The album also benefits from a killer production that affords every instrument the clarity and separation to be heard, whilst providing a meatiness and power to make sure that each of the musicians brings something to the fight. Naturally the guitars of Guillermo Izquierdo and David G. Álvarez sound amazing, but for me, it’s the drum sound of Víctor Valera that further elevates this record in my eyes. Every hit is crystal clear and when he indulges in a roll or fill, they burst through with the authority and strength that you want. Even the commanding bass rumble of José J. Izquierdo is audible within the impressive mix.
On to the songs themselves and ‘We Stand Alone’ is a blistering track, and one of my stand-outs. It kicks off at breakneck speed and barely lets up for over four minutes of insane thrashing. However, the song is also laced with some of the most immediate melodies on the record, not to mention some delicious lead guitar solo histrionics for good measure.
Other great tracks include the incendiary opener, ‘Indoctrinate’. It channels the spirit of the thrash of yesteryear with ‘gang’ vocals in the chorus, but it’s the riffing and the intensity that grabs my attention straight away. Then there are the chunky grooves, especially in the really cool mid-paced closing stages, as well as the lead breaks that add another dimension to the song, a belting statement of intent all round.
Barely giving themselves or the listener time to draw breath, the quartet launch into ‘Bleed The Crown’, easily one of the most instantly catchy and immediate cuts on the self-titled record. The Pantera references lurk within the hulking beast that’s ‘Rise Or Fall’, another groove-heavy monster of a track that underlines the strength of the Izquierdo/Valera rhythm section, whilst cleverly increasing the pace towards the end.
I’m also a fan of the surreptitiously darker, moodier ‘Childhood’s End’. It may have all the same Angelus Apatrida traits, but there’s an extra edge to the more melodic, descanting chorus, and to the guitar playing at points.
If I have any kind of criticism to dispense, it’d be that I’d perhaps like a touch more variety across the album. Angelus Apatrida are very good at what they do, but maybe, just maybe, a little more variation might be welcome, predominantly in the vocal department. But to be honest, this is almost certainly being harsh on my part because otherwise there really isn’t much about which I can find fault. Ultimately, if you’re a fan of heavy and aggressive thrash that has one foot in the past and the other in the here and now, ‘Angelus Apatrida’ is the album that you need in your collection. With a few other thrash albums due in 2021, Agelus Apatrida have come out swinging, left nothing in their locker and in so doing, have set an impressively high standard for all to follow.
The Score of Much Metal: 90%
Further reviews from 2021:
You can also check out my other reviews from previous years right here: