Quite a few years ago, I stumbled across a great band from Spain called Angelus Apatrida. They had a couple of albums out at the time, and I checked out their first one, “Evil Unleashed”. It was somewhat of an interesting release because it was more similar to a Pantera-esque groove-thrash (“Cowboys From Hell”-era) than it was straight ahead thrash. Over the years, I’m sort of lost track of the band, largely in part because their albums are not easy to find in North America. That all changes with “Hidden Evolution”, their fifth record.
At some point since the band’s first album, they’ve refocused their emphasis to be more on the thrash side of things. Make no mistake, this album has little, if any, ties to Pantera’s music. This is evident on “Immortal”, which hits you with a drum fill and a thrashing monstrosity of a riff right out of the gate. Perhaps more importantly, this song shows why I always enjoyed Angelus Apatrida’s first album: they keep the focus on the songs. There are so many hooks and catchy moments on this song, and they never stop coming throughout the album. Whether the band is playing at warp-10 speed or being a bit more melodic in their approach, it always seems to work.
One reason this band is so great is because of their singer Guillermo Izquierdo. His accent is not noticeably thick, and he has incredible control of his voice. Though he differs sonically from someone like James Hetfield, he has the same ability to bark out words and then instantly switch to something with a little more range. His versatility is a huge asset because it allows the band to utilize less aggressive drum patterns that the vocals can follow. Much in the same way Metallica varied up their tempos, Angelus Apatrida does so successfully, and this makes “Hidden Evolution” very easy to sit through, even at 52 minutes.
In terms of their formula, Angelus Apatrida does not experiment too much. The title track is a bit of an epic journey, and has some twists and turns. Additionally, sometimes they push the melodicism a bit further, such as parts of “First World of Terror” and "Tug of War", but they do not try their hand at a ballad, or anything more in a death/doom/black metal etc. direction. They really don’t need to mix it up though. It feels so rare to hear a genuinely great thrash band that plays straightforward thrash these days. Most of the time, modern thrash bands either sound like an Exodus rehash and aren’t that great, or they’re great because they bring new elements into a thrash sound. Angelus Apatrida does neither of those things. They just play thrash with so much energy and conviction that you can’t help but headbang to it. In hindsight, I’m really not sure why this band hasn’t blown up and become huge yet. Sure, they’re bigger than a lot of other thrash bands these days, but given how long Angelus Apatrida has been around and how good their music is, they should be appreciated much more heavily in the thrash arena than they are. That said, if you are a thrash fan, “Hidden Evolution” is a must purchase!
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"First World of Terror"
"Tug of War"
4.5/5 or 90%.
Written by Scott