Angelus Apatrida have been one of the most consistently impressive thrash bands of the modern era. They’ve managed to establish a strong cult following, but the Spanish quartet have hardly received the kind of exposure given to American acts like Havok, Warbringer or Municipal Waste. Nevertheless, last May saw the release of the band’s sixth studio effort, Cabaret de la Guillotine: a—once again—outstanding slab of thrash metal that puts all but the very best of their peers to shame.
Like all great thrash acts of modern times, Angelus Apatrida take more after supposed “second tier” acts like Exodus and Testament than they do any of the Big 4, although there’s plenty of Megadeth and Anthrax littered throughout their makeup to keep things relatable to even the most casual thrash fan. Their newest outing opens with one of the best thrash tunes you’re likely to hear in 2018, or any other year, in “Sharpen the Guillotine” and hardly let’s up from there. Tracks like “Betrayed” and “Downfall of the Nation” are, likewise, instant classics, while “One of Us” and “The Die is Cast” burst forth with a speed and vitality usually only felt from a band in their infancy.
Yet, in spite of its outstanding quality, Cabaret de la Guillotine is not even the strongest of Angelus Apatrida releases. For that, you’re going to have to look to their previous outing, 2015’s Hidden Evolution. The band’s fifth full-length is by far their most consistent effort, and one which displays a refined sense of songcraft often lacking on many other contemporary thrash releases. Tracks like “Tug of War” and “Wanderers Forever” are built around anthemic choruses that recal Testament at their most melodic, while the blistering “Serpents on Parade” and chunkier offerings like “First World of Terror” prove the band know how to get down and dirty when they have to. Here, the Spaniards strike a perfect balance between melody, speed and groove—delivering one of the best thrash records of the new millennium in the process.
Prior to Hidden Evolution, the band released two further outstanding records in The Cell (2012) and Clockwork (2010). The more recent of these is perhaps the heaviest record the band have so far put their name to, with tracks like “It’s Rising!” almost bordering on death metal at times, with this more extreme influence being particularly felt in Víctor Valera’s pummeling drum performance. Clockwork is a more straight forward affair, but it’s one which sees all the elements that would come to fruition over the following releases deployed to remarkable, if unrefined, effect. The band have also released two earlier records, Evil Unleashed (2006) and Give ’em War (2007). Both are solid outings, well deserving of your attention. Yet, unlike most acts of their ilk, Angelus Apatrida are definitely a band that have grown better with age.
Angelus Apatrida might not be the most prolific outfit, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a thrash metal band, outside of Australia and the US, who are more passionate and understanding of their craft. They’re also a phenomenal live act, so be sure to catch them when and where you can.
Cabaret de la Guillotine is out now through Century Media. You can order it, along with the rest of Angelus Apatrida’s albums via their official website.