The Call (Century Media)
Spain’s ANGELUS APATRIDA return with The Call, it is their third album for Century Media. Although this thrash quartet has had their issues taking a stranglehold of their native Albacete, they have been slaying Spain, and audience member that stands in their way for years. This has lead them to open up for such groups as SLAYER, and MEGADETH, and their current jaunt with 3 INCHES OF BLOOD, GOATWHORE and HAVOK. They are the only band from Spain (in any genre) that can currently tour Europe, and I don’t mean a few dates in spread out here and there, check out the itinerary for the aforementioned tour that they’re currently a part of, and you’ll see that they’ll be all over the old continent during the next few months. There is a reason why the legendary David Ellefeson pulled the band aside, and encouraged them to take their talents stateside, as US audiences would without a doubt eat up what the band has to offer.
The Call is a natural progression for the band, it shows the band maturing, and evolving far beyond what they have done with their two previous outings Clockwork and Evil Unleashed. This by no means diminishes how good those albums are, it’s just that the band has taken great leap forward with The Call. The band has once again teamed back up with Clockwork producer Daniel. I had a chance to speak to lead singer Guillermo Izquierdo recently, and he mentioned that Daniel made it his mission to make The Call more than just another album. He took it upon himself to push the band, and make this not only the best album possible, but something very personal for him as well, something that is looked back as a defining moment for him as a producer.
The album starts off with the first single “You Are Next”, which coincides with a video game themed video that was released a few weeks ago. If you’ve followed the band at all, you’ll realize that Guillermo vocal style is completely different on this track, and throughout the album. On the band’s previous outings there is an undeniable resemblance to Dave Mustaine. With “You Are Next” he reminds me of Zetro, the former lead singer of EXODUS. You can still hear the Mustaine influence at times, but you can also hear a little Blitz from Overkill, a twinge of Phil Anselmo and shades of Rob Halford in a few spots. While speaking to me he admitted to Mustaine influence, and said “I didn’t want to keep doing Mustaine part 2, while writing the music, it was really calling me to go in a different direction with my vocals. So I naturally followed what seemed natural.” Couple that with Cardoso pushing, and constantly challenging the singer and you have the vocal performance that is displayed throughout the album.
But by listening to the album, you can see that Cardoso challenged the entire band to up their game. The other noticeable improvement is the precision of the rhythm section. Again, this isn’t knocking the band’s previous albums, but Victor Valera like a sharpshooter with his precision on the album. His playing is tighter than it has been on the previous albums; it is at a completely different level than it has been in the past. Bassist Jose J. Izquierdo locks everything down with and is up to the challenge to equal Valera’s playing. Again, the band’s influence can really be seen here with the two locking into place like the legendary combination of Menza and Ellefson. Realize that I’m saying like, not equal to or better than, I need to clarify that before anyone gets all upset over that previous statement.
I keep mentioning Guillermo’s singing, but his and Davish G. Alvarez guitar work has always set the band apart (in my mind) from other contemporary thrash bands. Their playing on this album not only contains their best work as a guitar tandem, but takes what they’ve done in the past and infuses it with other aspects of metal that you may not be accustomed to hearing from the band. This only enhances what they bring to the table with The Call.
Aside from the standard lead single, you’ll find “At The Gates of Hell”, which is like a locomotive building up steam before running you over. “Violent Dawn” which to me blends the cross-over greatness of D.R.I. with some riffing in the vein of SLAYER’s King and Hanneman. “It’s Rising” which offers which offers shades of Painkiller-esque JUDAS PRIEST and a solo outro reminiscent of the heyday of PANTERA. “Blood On The Snow” could have easily of been slotted in on Countdown To Extinction, while “Killer Instinct” is more in more influenced by Peace Sells. “The Hope Is Gone” has an aspect that previous albums did not contain, and that’s melody in band’s chorus. Ok, yes, they’ve had melody in the past, but not this well formed. The chorus of this track permeates your mind, and bounces around in it, in an infectious fashion. “Fresh Pleasure” is an ode to the connection between the crowd, the band, and a nice cold beer. “Still Corrupt” discusses topics that have been present since the origins of thrash, crooked politicians. “Reborn” is a track that really smacked me in the head when I first listened to it. This track to me is a real defining moment for the band, and when I heard it, I had to go back and give it a few more listens to almost believe the track was this good! This track closes the standard edition of the album up. It seems to be a statement by the band, as if to say, ok you’ve heard the album, now realize this is who we are, this is part of our evolution. This track is a full on metal song, with a catchy, infectious chorus that is perfect to hear a crowd at Download, Wacken, Uproar, etc. singing in unison with the band. The riffing is very matriculate, it isn’t full speed thrash, but it really grinds and pummels you from start to finish. As does the entire album, I mention these influences, but I do have to stress that it is all done in the bands own fashion, it isn’t a carbon copy of the band’s I’ve referenced, it is ANGELUS APATRIDA.
I’ve always been opposed to hearing bands cover well known songs. You have to A) have the sack to try and take on certain tracks B) do them well enough so that they aren’t laughable. ANGELUS APATRIDA has never shied away from covers, previously doing PANTERA’s “Domination” and IRON MAIDEN’s “Be Quick Or Be Dead”, and doing them well. This album is no different; they cover possibly my favorite JUDAS PRIEST song “Hell Patrol”, and man is it good! They do all of these covers in their own fashion, but in a way that still keeps the song connected faithfully to its original composition. This is truly a testament to the band’s musicianship, and their ability to pull the tracks off. The expanded edition wraps up with an updated take on a track that appeared on their 2007 album Give ‘Em War called “Free Your Soul”.
This album is recommended to anyone that remotely enjoys any of the bands I have mentioned in this review. On The Call ANGELUS APATRIDA brings old school thrash, and metal into the present, while applying their own ingredients, and making it all truly their own. See them on their current tour, or hopefully they’ll jump stateside shortly. The album is a digital only release in the states and comes out on May 8th.
Victor M. Ruiz