Translating roughly to “fallen angels”, the eponymously titled seventh album from Spanish thrashers Angelus Apatrida is another brutal barrage of sweat, riffs and fury. Once again, guitarist/vocalist Guillermo Izquierdo and his bass playing brother José J. Izquierdo are joined by second guitarist David G. Álvarez, and Victor Valera on drums, admirably retaining the same stable line-up now for close to twenty years.
I have a slight issue with albums like Angelus Apatrida’s Hidden Evolution, their third for Century Media and fifth overall. See, I know that if I’d have picked this up in my teens, I’d have loved it and adopted them as a pet band, bought the T-shirt (providing it had a skull on it, which it surely would have) and I’d probably still be returning to it now – it has all the requisite elements, thrashed riffs, pace and power but with Skolnick-ian melodic leads to spice up the chugs, as well as melodic choruses, such as ‘Wanderers Forever’. But the issue is, that I don’t know if I can be wholly comfortable with reconciling an album that I’d recommend twenty years ago to an album I’d recommend now. But these Spanish thrashers are making a damn good go of convincing me.
Vocalist Guillermo Izquierdo flits from Dave Mustaine to Phil Anselmo territory within the space of ‘Architects’ and elsewhere calls to mind both Matt Barlow and modern day Zetro in delivery and phrasing (indeed, Iced Earth jamming with Exodus is an early impression that stays with you throughout repeat visits), and, at heart, this is thrash with its roots firmly in the Among The Living’s of our world, with worthy metal song-writing and some sanguine touches, such as the outro to ‘Tug of War’.
Alongside Izquierdo, his brother in guitaring arms David G. Alvarez finds the balance between raging, cutting loose and adding clever melodic guitar touches, little guitar licks that are reminiscent of Xentrix at their best, or some slick open chord embellishments to keep things interesting. Whilst staying within the (at times restrictive) confines of the genre, AA keep things fresh by varying their attack – capable of “heads down and see you at the end” numbers in the shape of the slamming ‘Serpents On Parade’, locked down spiky riffing, such as ‘End Man’, chugging out ‘First World Of Terror’ or bringing the hooks with the anthemic variants of ‘I Owe You Nothing’.
There are criticisms in that Hidden Evolution is a touch lengthy, and, despite playing with the various shibboleths that are prevalent within the “Serious Thrash” boundaries, these are still tropes that aren’t particularly new. But all that said, Angelus Apatrida have pulled together a very credible, consistent and enjoyable modern thrash album to be proud of. Despite my initial scepticisms, its over-riding “Proper” metalness and proliferation of hooks and actual songs has won me over. Fair play.