AngelusTo say that this album pulls no punches is a bit like saying `shooting yourself in the head isn’t very good for you’. To the uninitiated, this is the fourth raging opus from Spain’s very own thrash metal fanatics, Angelus Apatrida, and it does indeed rage.

Many people assume that thrash metal died at the end of the 1980’s, despite the swathes of evidence to the contrary. Sure, we’ve had the very young teenage thrash metal revivalists, some of whom did a decent job, and some of whom were a pale, tongue-in-cheek imitation of what went before. Listening to this album though, it is obvious that Angelus Apatrida really mean it. For a start, this is pure, unadulterated thrash metal, which completely takes the listener back to that time when hair was frizzy, jeans were tight, and somehow baseball caps with massive peaks were considered cool.

All the elements you could ever want in a classic thrash metal album are present here. There is the fury, speed and aggression, razor-sharp, clinical yet vicious riffing, gang vocals, neck breaking, frantic headbanging moments. The band also manage to squeeze in a monstrous amount of epic metal moments; some great harmonised vocal choruses, fantastic, searing and blistering guitar solos, and just the right amount of melody balanced with pure, muscular fury.

I would go as far as to say that this album outclasses many of the second-rate thrash metal from that classic 80’s period. They have something that many of these old bands didn’t; song writing ability. The songs flow fantastically, great juxtapositions between choruses, bridges, main riffs and solo sections, it’s very easy to find yourself pulled into Angelus Apatrida’s neck-breaking, crushing rhythms, in fact I found it almost impossible not to headbang while listening to this album (it sure makes typing difficult).

One of the other things that makes this album seem so classy is the production. It is exactly right for this type of thrash metal – utterly pristine, with incredible clarity, yet earth-shatteringly heavy. All instruments can be accounted for here; you can even hear the bass guitar! Guillermo Izquierdo rages and roars and yelps like the furious love child of Chuck Billy and Schmier, sounding genuinely furious. He can also carry a decent tune, and creates some great vocal harmonies for the chorus sections.

For any thrash metal fan, I think it would be hard not be impressed by this album. It oozes class and really hits the nail on the head, Testament, Destruction, Death Angel, Overkill, Kreator; watch out! Angelus Apatrida are about to steal your thunder. I’m off to find a neck brace…

(8.5/10 Jon Butlin)