Formed almost exactly 20 years ago, Angelus Apatrida, have more than earned their reputation as modern thrash metal greats. One of the few Spanish bands to enjoy sustained international recognition, the band burst onto the global scene with their 2006 debut Evil Unleashed and have never looked back.
A close-knit four-man unit, Angelus Apatrida inked a deal with Century Media records in 2009: an unexpected achievement for a Spanish metal band, but one that they grabbed with eight hands. With the always consistent line-up of frontman/guitarist Guillermo Izquierdo, bassist Jose Izquierdo, drummer Victor Valera and guitarist David Alvarez, Angelus Apatrida have steadily evolved, releasing a series of stunning, genre-redefining records that belonged squarely in the thrash metal realm while never sounding quite like any other band. They reached an obvious creative peak with 2018's widely acclaimed Cabaret de la Guillotine, but as Guillermo explains, Angelus Apatrida are always looking for new ways to wreck necks and flatten skulls.
"It's been a natural evolution - it's been the same four people all the way along, and we've already released six albums and toured almost the entire world," he says. "We just try to improve ourselves, learning from each other and learning from other bands, bigger bands and smaller bands too. We try to learn from everybody. But the way we compose, the way we record, the way we do everything has stayed the same. There's only one goal, which is to always try to find the best sounds we can and to always make the next album better than the previous one. So far, I think we've done that, in my own humble opinion!"
Plans to celebrate their 20th anniversary may have been shot down in flames, but Angelus Apatrida have spent their lockdown days piecing together a brand new studio album, due for release early in 2021. Originally planned as an EP, the self-titled effort emerged from wildly creative sessions in isolation and seems destined to be a definitive moment in the Angelus Apatrida story. Utterly crushing and yet endlessly inventive, the Spaniards' new music amounts to a wholesale upgrade for this unstoppable thrash machine.
"This album is going to be surprising for everybody, both old school fans and new school fans," says Guillermo. "I think it'll be an opportunity to gain a lot of new fans! The first thing that everyone will notice is that we changed our tuning, for the first time in 20 years! We dropped down a half-step. We're now in D-standard and suddenly... wow, it was like listening to Vulgar Display Of Power for the first time! [Laughs] We composed a lot of new riffs and everything sounded really different in that tuning. I think there is a power inside the music that we never had before."
To back up that sense of power, Guillermo has also penned some of his most furious and articulate lyrics to date. The new album, which again comes with Artwork by Gyula Havancsák (Annihilator, Destruction, Stratovarius), is ablaze with the frustrations and horrors of the world's last 12 months, with lyrics that delve deep into the frontman's own feelings, while holding up a mirror to the chaos around him.
"There's a lot of rage that we have inside from going through the last few months, you know? Almost half of the album was composed before the pandemic. The pandemic came and everything changed. Here in Spain, things were really, really fucked up... not just with the pandemic, but with the political situation here too. It's at boiling point. So it's all bad news everywhere, politicians fighting each other and in the meantime there are Nazis both on the Parliament and streets. We're living in very hard times here. So all the lyrics are talking about those situations. But we've never been a political band. I don't care who you vote for. We talk against racism, fascism, homophobia and all that stuff, because that's not about politics, it's about human rights."
To fully reflect the intensity and ferocity of their new songs, Angelus Apatrida have recruited revered studio guru Christopher 'Zeuss' Harris (Rob Zombie, Overkill, Hatebreed, Municipal Waste, Shadows Fall) to mix and master the whole brutal enterprise. The result of that collaboration is an album that blows the vast majority of modern metal out of the water, with uniquely crushing guitar tones underpinning some of the most inventive but memorable songs the band have ever written.
"We produced the album ourselves, It's been recorded by our friend Juanan López at Baboon Records, but now Zeuss is mixing and mastering it, and he's doing an amazing job. We always wanted to work with someone like him and I think he's given our music what it needs," Guillermo notes. "We were all like, 'Woah!' This guy just nailed it, first mix. It's exactly what we were looking for, so we're really happy with that."
Not many bands last for two decades with their credibility and passion intact. But Angelus Apatrida are not like other bands: this is state-of-the-art, multi-dimensional and monstrous thrash metal, with a big heart and a skull full of rage. Forged in turmoil but full of the hope that only music can inspire, Angelus Apatrida is the pulverising metal record that the world needs right now. The future may be uncertain, but class is eternal.