REVIEW: ANGELUS APATRIDA – “Cabaret De La Guillotine”
To my knowledge, Angelus Apatrida is one of the stalwarts of this new wave of thrash metal bands we are experiencing since the mid 2000’s. The Spanish four-piece can already be considered veterans of the scene and definitely managed to break some skulls with their Bay Area-style of playing in the likes of Testament and Death Angel, but not without some elements of their own.
The sixth full length album by the Albacete natives, ‘Cabaret de la Guillotine’, is yet another good entry in their discography, but will yet bring out feelings of being derivative, as it is with a good portion of today’s thrash metal, anyway. “Sharpen the Guillotine” is a killer start to the record, as it pumps the blood and has both aggressiveness and melody in the same proportion. The virtuous beginning paves the way to a powerhouse first verse, which then turns into one of Angelus’ best songs yet with an awesome and catchy chorus; definitely the best track here.
From then on, the album cools off a bit and stays in the same temperature until the semi-ballad in the final part of the record, but can’t quite match the quality of the opener song. The duo “Betrayed” and “Ministry of God” float between moments of sheer thrash metal assault and uninspired riffs and melodies, but both manage to get the job done in one way or the other. Guillermo Izquierdo’s vocals range from harsh screams to calmer lines and the kitchen provided by Victor Valera (drums) and José Izquierdo (bass) glue everything else properly, but while everyone does their job really well, the tracks never reach a peak, per se.
“The Hum”, another good one, is extremely satisfying to hear and provides a great adrenaline injection to the experience, but its chorus reminded me too much of Testament’s “Disciples of the Watch”, which I can’t grasp if it’s a homage of just uninspired copycat songwriting; the Testament feelings continue in the decent “The Witching Hour”, when even Guillermos’ voice sounds like Chuck Billy at times. Nevertheless, these dudes are highly proficient in what they do so the overall experience is great.
The heterogeneous nature of the album is something that caught my eye, and I understand the need to do so, even if thrash metal is best served favoring consistency over experimentation. Heavier and faster bits like in “Downfall of the Nation”, the classic ‘rebel thrash anthem’ in “One of Us” and the chaotic closer “Martyrs of Chicago” are more than welcomed and will please purist thrashers, while the melodic approach seen in “The Die is Cast” – which has some ‘Megadeth-esque’ moments, especially in the chorus – and “Farewell” can appeal to the more modern listener.
Amidst the 52-minute chaos are some fillers, like the aforementioned “Downfall of the Nation”, “The Die is Cast” and the mediocre semi-ballad “Farewell”. This made me wonder on why do a 50+ minute thrash metal album, giving that the sense of urgency and the non-stop atmosphere of the genre show that the most digestible experiences go against that. This was something I was expecting, though, because Angelus’ past works range from 40 to 50+ minutes of length, but when you have at least three filler tracks, it almost becomes too much to bear.
All in all, ‘Cabaret de la Guillotine’ is yet another good album by the experienced Spanish quartet, with some inconsistencies along the way. Much like its predecessors ‘Hidden Evolution’ (2015) and ‘The Call’ (2012), the record uses and abuses of elements from the band’s heroes – especially the Bay-Area ones – but this doesn’t mean that they fail to achieve a sound of their own. This will not make you see thrash metal in a different way nor will reinvent the genre, but it’s decent enough to be worthy of a listen.