Review: “Self Titled” by Angelus Apatrida

Formed at the turn of the century in Albacete, Spain, Angelus Apatrida are a Thrash quartet who have enjoyed sustained international recognition since their 2006 debut “Evil Unleashed” and have never looked back, inking a deal with their current label home Century Media in 2009. So in an era of Thrash resurgence with bands like Road Mutant, Hazzerd and Havok all claiming their place, can Guillermo Izquierdo (Vocals & Lead/Rhythm Guitars), David G. Álvarez (Lead & Rhythm Guitars), José J. Izquierdo (Bass Guitar) and Víctor Valera (Drums) retain their crown and remain ahead of the pack?

The raging, rampaging “Indoctrinate” roars out of the speakers at break neck pace, an instant circle pit anthem with fist pumping gang chanted moments that will see the bystanders raising their fists while drinking their beers. A whirlwind of classic Thrash with modern clanky bass tones and moments of Pantera and Machine Head riffs, it’s an absolute pleasure for fans of Groove Metal as much as the bands own genre. That groove continues into “Bleed The Crown“, accompanied by plentiful jackhammer footwork from Valera, whose kit performance sits very nicely in the mix. A band with a relentlessly high energy, they’ve captured the essence of their live show and put it to good use it in the studio. You can only imagine that they must have been flicking sweat at the recording engineer as they were headbanging through these cuts. No work out needed. But this isn’t a blunt force trauma or speed for speeds sake and with “The Age of Disinformation” there is a real intelligence with the socially aware lyrics about fake news, social media and the internet before the face melter of a solo rips through the parade like a Tasmanian Devil on steroids. The Metalcore moment that follows that with Gothernburg era sound overlayed leads shows off the guitaring talents no end, at which point you can see exactly why Angelus Apatrida are held in such high esteem.

Rise or Fall” takes a leaf out of the “Vulgar Display of Power” era Pantera playbook with driven finger pointing venomous lyrics from Izquierdo but unlike your typical Thrash release, there is so much going on with little tempo shifts and nuances in each and every song, it makes for a jaw dropping moment in a collection of stand out tracks. “Disposable Liberty” only serves to back up that point at the band have clearly aged like a fine wine, while remaining p***ed off throughout their career and simply building on the foundations that they have laid. The cleaner vocal parts of “Childhood’s End” are something of an oddity at first listen but grow on you over repeated listens, helped by the razor sharp guitar work and all out hell for leather pacing. Not even a minor chink in the bands combat armour; a small stone dent perhaps. As you can imagine “Disposable Liberty” plays on typical Thrash lyrical themes of paranoia with politically aware overtones and while it is slower with more of a groove orientation, it sure as hell ain’t a hundred year old man dragging his own coffin to the cemetery at the top of a steep hill. Izquierdo even manages to capture a few vocal moments that are similar to Shadows Fall frontman Brian Fair.

Somehow introducing some classic Metal and even Judas Priest isms into their sonic ecstasy, “We Stand Alone” has time for a “Blegh!” in a juggernaut of a track. On paper this could have been a car crash but it works incredibly well largely because it sounds like a cover song that they made their own rather than the original title that it is, while tipping the hat to some of the bands influences. Returning to the heavier side of their sound with an incredibly tight performance and menacing guitar work “Through The Glass” is a green eyed monster of jealousy while having some familiar hooks and engaging riffs that mean it has the instant connection of love at first fright and the solos are jaw dropping. Then comes another left turn of sorts with “Empire Of Shame“, a song that has a Power Metal lyrical theme and sounds like a Thrash attack on Iron Maiden territory in a style reminiscent of Vesuvian and that sounds simply amazing because it has all the brutality and drive of Thrash and no ear piercing high pitched vocals. Having already described the majority of this record as done at breakneck pace, there is no let up with the adrenaline pumping “Into The Well“. There is one speed and there is no let up in quality either. The solo sounds like Phil Demmel straight out of “The Blackening” era but the main riffs border on Death Metal aggression. All in all an album that is astounding. If someone asked you what Metal was, the answer is right here [9/10]

Track listing

  1. Indoctrinate
  2. Bleed The Crown
  3. The Age Of Disinformation
  4. Rise Or Fall
  5. Childhood’s End
  6. Disposable Liberty
  7. We Stand Alone
  8. Through The Glass
  9. Empire Of Shame
  10. Into The Well

Self Titled” by Angelus Apatrida is out 5th February 2021 via Century Media

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