One band who have never had an issue with pushing the boundaries of how loud their voices - and indeed, their instruments! – can go, are Spanish thrash metal legends Angelus Apatrida. As one of an exclusive group of Spanish bands ever to sign to Century Media Records back in 2009, following their stunning 2006 debut ‘Evil Unleashed’, they are no strangers to stamping their mark on a scene that needed to hear what bands from outside the conventional circles of metal have to say.
Now, almost exactly 20 years since their formation, the band are showing no signs of reigning in their ability to craft thunderous anthems. On the contrary, their new self-titled record is some of their most brutal work to date, packed to the brim with white-hot vocals and punishing breakdowns. Responsibility for the production of the record was shouldered by revered studio master Zeuss, whose previous work includes the likes of Hatebreed, Rob Zombie, and Municipal Waste, which in turn bred a crunching bed of undertones that are whiplash-inducing in their ferocity.
The album was originally intended to be an EP, however, as the writing process flourished under the shadow of coronavirus, inspiration took hold. For vocalist Guillermo Izquierdo, it was a highly cathartic process: “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."
The power of music to empower people into action is something rarely attributed to metal music by those outside of the heavy music sphere, yet it has a history of doing so – the likes of Rage Against the Machine’s ‘Killin’ In The Name’ are testament to that. Yet it is rare for a band so far removed from the mainstream radio’s palatability to be so bold in their approach to discussing these issues.
And, for those who simply need their metal to be technically satisfying, there is innovation to be found there too: “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!”
Yet, the most important statement the band has made regarding their new record is this: “I think there is a power inside the music that we never had before.”
In an age where the biggest artists’ most-streamed pedestals seem unable to be toppled, finding music that has passion and meaning, especially from a band who have seen and done it all in their two decades touring the world, is something incredibly precious that it is worth holding on to. While Angelus Apatrida may not be all about sweetness and warm hugs musically, it takes a band of this irrepressible, fierce power to amplify the message of unity and peace to the point where they resonate loudly enough to be heard. And that is the real power of heavy music.
The new Angelus Apatrida record is out now. Check your favourite streaming platform.