I only stumbled upon Angelus Apatrida recently on Spotify and in a happy coincidence, it turns out they have a new album to review. Hidden Evolution is the Spanish thrash groups fifth studio album and third via Century Media Records.
A common theme in thrash albums these days is the atmospheric opener, maybe 30 seconds or so of ominous sounding guitar work before the song kicks in all guns blazing. Angelus Apatrida decided to skip step one and go straight for all guns blazing with Immortal. Within 10 seconds the foundations for the rest of the album are laid. It’s going to be fast, furious and you’re genuinely going to feel a little tired out after it (that or I’m just really unfit).
Another distinct difference from the rest of the thrash world is the album artwork. Thrash art is a land of dark oranges, evil greens, blood reds and so on. The grey/white background in contrast to the fire in the middle will definitely draw the eye. Whether it gets someone to listen is another question, but it at least gets your attention in the plethora of thrash albums out there.
With the thrash beast being so full, you would expect the saturation point would have been reached. Yet in 2015 we’ve already had a couple of strong thrash albums with no hint of slowing down or half assing it. Hidden Evolution is one of them without a doubt. It manages to fulfil what a thrash fan wants while avoiding the same old clichés and riffs.
You have you full on pit songs (most of the album really, if they played this in full there would be deaths), then you have your slower groove moments for a good old-fashioned headbang, there are the clap along sections, there are the full on shred solos and more importantly much more reserved solos.
Speed of Light with its NWOBHM influenced guitar harmonies shows that slightly more reserved side off before launching down the fast road. In thrash you sometimes get used to fast song = fast solo, and when you can guess what’s coming next it all seems very formulaic. With changing up the solo speeds, Angelus Apatrida avoid that trap.
The technicality in some of the riffs has a throwback to early Megadeth, even some of the vocal melodies follow a Dave Mustaine-esque path, but aren’t particularly nasally so if you like Megadeth’s music but not the vocals, give this a shot. There’s also a strong hint of Annihilator running through the album, from some of the more intricate riffs to the low-end sound being allowed to shine through.
Architects is an example of that low-end. Despite it being a simple bass line, what thrash fan doesn’t like when the guitars cut out and you get the low-end rumble for a few seconds, you can’t beat that moment live when the bass washes through you and you just have to hope your lunch isn’t shaken out of your body.
I mentioned the vocals, but leaving it there would be unfair. With all members listed as either vocals or backing vocals, you get a good array of vocals rather than fifty minutes or so of angry shouting. One minute you’ll have full aggression such as in Tug of War, before sliding into a cleaner vocal line, I brought up Dave Mustaine before, there’s also a good bit of Phil Anselmo hiding in his lower vocal range which will appeal to all the Pantera fans out there. The vocal shifts aren’t a giant change, but it’s interesting, an interesting keeps you listening.
No ballads! Always a welcome point to point out on a thrash album where you run the danger of hearing Fade to bloody Black for the thousandth time. However, the gentle moments such as the end of Tug of War hint towards a potential for a decent ballad rather than rehashing old classics.
Song of the album goes to End Man for the instrumental section midway which will either elicit severe whiplash or multiple pit injuries, and of course be totally worth it.
If you’re a fan of this type of music and manage to sit entirely through the album I’ll be stunned. If your foot isn’t tapping you’ll be having a bit of an air drum, failing that you’ll at least be tapping the keys in time. The album is a blend of melody, classic metal, tight musicianship and most obviously thrash, and while this type of thrash isn’t new, Angelus Apatrida seem to be hell bent on perfecting it.
Hidden Evolution is out now via Centure Media Records. For more information find the band on Facebook