Angelus Apatrida – Hidden Evolution
Release Date: January 16-23, 2015
Thrash Metal bands are often stereotyped as being predictable and painfully restrictive in their approach towards making music. Many believe that even its revival in the form of the New Wave of Thrash Metal does not bring much to the table. Well, “haters gonna hate”; my belief in this genre remains undaunted. I strongly believe that the new wave of thrash has steered the genre in the right direction, and bands like Angelus Apatrida keep reinforcing that faith. When I heard that they are about to release their fifth full length album Hidden Evolution, the excitement in me was palpable.
Angelus Apatrida mince no words while expressing their views on social and political issues plaguing our society, whether its war, media propaganda or even age-old national traditions like bull fighting. In Hidden Evolution, they continue in the same vein right from the artwork to the last lyric in the album. The artwork has been done by Gyula Havancsák, and features a person in a bio-suit trying to survive by burning money for warmth in a desolate snow-covered city, painting a supremely thought-provoking picture.
Hidden Evolution begins impetuously with “Immortal” which grabs you by the scruff of your neck and forces you to bang your head to the thrashy rhythms exploding in your ears. There is a hook in the refrain which creeps up into your brain like a parasite, refusing to leave. Vocalist Guillermo Izquierdo sneers away while simultaneously teaming up with David Alvarez on the guitars; thickening up the groove in the rhythm sections to provide a buttery slab for Alvarez who carves out some smooth melodic solos to complete this thrash metal sculpture with finesse. “Immortal” provides a nice opener to the album, instantly raising your adrenaline levels as you brace yourself for “First World Of Terror”. This track marches on gloriously into a crescendo backed by some crispy drum work by Victor Valera to finally culminate in catchy thrash riffage. The track alternates between raw aggression and nice harmonies before a scorching melodic solo makes its entrance towards the end to complete this juggernaut.
Traces of Angelus Apatrida‘s classic heavy metal influences are fully displayed on tracks like “Tug Of War” in which Izquierdo’s vocals trace the silhouettes of Ozzy’s signature vocal style, especially in the pre-chorus and chorus sections. This track is one of the longest ones here (clocking in at six minutes), and employs nice melodic solos, tempo changes and clean harmonies to supplement the aggression. Similarly, “End Man” and “I Owe You Nothing” also employ chunky mid-tempo groovy sections, scale changes, and melodic interludes, as well as subtle time signature changes in the middle of their thrash metal mayhem to elevate the aural experience to newer levels.
While the band is not afraid to infuse influences from other metal sub-genres, they also make sure to inject pure, undiluted thrash goodness in the mix in the form of “Serpents Of Parade”: Its opening is a blitzkreig of notes on the guitars which sound like the beating wings of a giant metal bee buzzing away at full speed. It is placed perfectly, just after the melancholic and slow ending of the predecessor and gives you a jolt as it starts, demanding your attention with those metal horns raised up.
The length of the songs here are longer than what you hear in a typical thrash metal album, with the average length of five-minutes per track. Apart from “Tug Of War”, the title track “Hidden Evolution” is a nine-minute opus right at the end of the album. While I hungrily lapped up the tempo changes, the awesome solos and the harmonies, I felt it was lacking variety in the verse sections, which just sit on a mid-tempo palm-muted gallop. During multiple listens, I found my attention drifting away during these sections, then promptly brought back by the other stand-out moments of the track.
In short, Angelus Apatrida has created a serrated mix of jagged thrash metal sound polished and smoothed out by some classic heavy metal influences, thereby giving birth to a sound that is the best of both worlds. Hidden Evolution is a solid release from the band, and is surely a fantastic start to the new year.
Recommended Tracks: “End Man”, “I Owe You Nothing”, “Serpents of Parade”, “Speed Of Light”