REVIEW: Angelus Apatrida (Album, 2021)

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Start of the year has been extremely fruitful for any Death and Thrash Metal fans. New releases by Asphyx, Ektomorf, Nervosa should not have left indifferent any fan of the genres. Yet if you thought that the party is over, you were wrong, it has just begun! On February 5th Spanish Thrash Metal band Angelus Apatrida is set to release their 7th, self-titled album to mark their 20th anniversary.

As a disclaimer I gotta say that despite knowing about the band’s existence I’ve never ever had a chance to check out their material before this release. And thus consider this to be a a first reaction review, and keep in mind that while writing it I deliberately haven’t checked out any of the band’s previous works.

The album opens with a blasting intro of Indoctrinate. From the opening thrashing guitar riffs it becomes absolutely clear that the band is about to give their fans, both old and new, a classic piece of thrash metal material – rapid and rigid. A classic breakdown straight out of the late 80s Thrash Metal Textbook would be a perfect head banging moment for any future live concert… whenever those will resume. And that breakdown, accompanied by vigorous battle cries «Revolt! Revolution!», leads straight into a rapid yet melodic guitar solo and once again to the main bridge. Multiple tempo changes make this song, which was also released as a single, diverse and dynamic, and a great album-opener.

The band then follows with Bleed The Crown – a much more technical piece. It’s backbone, meaning the rhythm section, is in fact what keeps the track together and deserves the uttermost attention. It’s stable and sturdy yet isn’t linear by all means. The drummer Víctor Valera does a masterful job on keeping the band in tact, yet does not forget to experiment. Guillermo Izquierdo’s rusty low voice is evocative of that of Chuck Billy’s of Testament. And just to set the record straight – that is, in fact, a complement. 

I think when the band was deciding which songs they should release as singles, they simply took their album and went through the tracklist, for the third song – The Age Of Disinformation should also be already familiar for anyone who follows the band. It opens with a distant guitar lick, which quickly develops into another rapid thrashing riff. It’s a steady and speedy track with another wonderfully executed guitar solo and a very simple melody. I believe the band purposefully directed the listeners focus to the lyrics without any unnecessary distractions, for those are in fact rather relevant in today’s world. As it should it be clear from the song’s title it deals with the issue of disinformation in today’s world and calls people out as «Slaves, dependents, victims of technology» because of their tendency to trust anything they see on media.

The following track Rise Or Fall opens with a Thrash Death Metal-like guitar riff and keeps that style’s vibe through the entire song. It’s an extremely straightforward track with simple melody and little deviation from the initially set course. It is worth pointing out exquisite work by the band’s bass player José J. Izquierdo. His line adds so much needed fullness to the song’s sound without simply mimicking rhythm guitars. Childhood’s End is yet another classical track, yet on this one the band’s sound leans more towards that of the Big 4. Simple and repetitive guitar riffs and steady rhythm section create a vision of a high-speed car chase and together with several tempo changes and extremely catchy chorus develop a tune redolent of the classical Megadeth sound.

The next one on the track list is a steady piece Disposable Liberty. It is a mid-tempo track with simple riffs and brutal vocals. While it is rather enjoyable, it could possibly be the least memorable one on the record. Its placement though (exactly after the album’s equator) has been chosen wisely, as it allows a listener to breathe and relax for just a bit and opens gates into the second part of the album. In addition, it has a rather masterfully executed guitar solo by David G. Álvarez and Guillermo Izquierdo, which adds so much needed flavour to its sound. We Stand Alone which follows right after pierces the silence left after its predecessor like a swift and deadly arrow riddles the air. It wakes you up right away from the dark and almost melancholic mood of the previous song with its speedy drums and a simple yet very catchy main guitar riff. Its almost Hard Rock like call-and-response chorus makes you want to scream along right away and will be a perfect sing along for any future live shows. And its classic heavy breakdown will then be enjoyed by any mosh fans. And while I do understand that this is not the most technically complex track on the album, it actually might be one of my personal favourite ones.

It is followed by Through The Glass – another classic Thrash Metal piece with repetitive guitar riffs and a speedy guitar solo. And while this isn’t the strongest track on the record, it might, in fact be the heaviest one. The opening riff of Empire Of Shame is what I love Thrash Metal for. While being rather simple it is able to create an epic and grand atmosphere without sounding too pretentious. Several melodies which evolve from it all work together just to lead to the culmination in a form of a short yet flawless guitar solo. And its final accords lay a perfect foundation for the closing track. Into The Wall opens with machine gun-like drum beat which is followed by a quite repetitive verse. By the end of the first quarter the tune is infused with a synth part, a rather unexpected one to be honest with you. Yet the main fun begins after the track’s equator – a duelling guitar solo with several melodical variations, and a rather unexpected breakdown after its culmination, which leads straight back to the main theme.

Overall it is a very cohesive record which keeps you intact from the top till the very end, giving its listener little to no time to catch a breathe. And since I wasn’t familiar with the band’s discography before, it actually was a perfect entry point to their material, and made me want to find out what else did these Spanish guys have up their sleeve. It will definitely be enjoyed by any Thrash Metal fans.

Verdict: powerful and vigorous, with a classic sound yet modern feel, 8/10

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