Angelus Apatrida’s eponymous²⁰²¹, which I reviewed here (5.5/6) was a fantastic slab of modern thrash metal with hints of groove and metalcore so, when I saw the Century Media Records alert for the brand new video “Cold” I could hardly wait to sink my ears into it. Indeed, “Cold” is a perfect thrash metal anthem that would fit right in between the late 80’s and early 90s, as it honors Testament, Kreator and Pantera (with elements of death metal as was the case on Pantera’s Far Beyond Driven¹⁹⁹⁴) but also Divine Intervention¹⁹⁹⁴ Slayer with John Bush Anthraxian chorus clean sung melody to boot. Could Aftermath²⁰²³ released October 20th beat the predecessor? It seemed to me that it could if the remaining tracks were as good as “Cold”.

It turns out these Spaniards, formed in 2000, could not have picked a better harbinger of the new album, because “Cold” is its best representation. However, that means that their 8th full length Aftermath²⁰²³ is actually a step down from the predecessor, something you can’t tell from the identical score. While the eponymous²⁰²¹ was an album really short of perfection, deserving, if we had a 0.1 decimal rating, a 5.7 or 5.8, Aftermath²⁰²³ is a genuine 5.5 without the need to deflate the rating to fit our mold. While thrash metal is still front center, as was the case on Hidden Evolution²⁰¹⁵, the eponymous²⁰²¹ seems to have been the peak of their thrashness and now, again, they tend to marry it to more groove and even metalcore as on, say, The Call²⁰¹². Not that they ever were a pure thrash metal band like Testament, Slayer, Anthrax or 80s Metallica, but these days they seem to mirror modern Megadeth in the variety of presented influences and flavors. There is, for instance, a lot more melody, such is in “Fire Eyes” where Persistence Of Time¹⁹⁹¹ Anthraxian balladic riffs give rise to thrash verses strongly reminiscent of both Machine Head’s “Violate” and Megadeth’s “Headcrusher” which sounds almost like a tribute to both and I wouldn’t be surprised if it actually was, but then again, we’ve all heard like similarities between Megadeth’s “44 Minutes” and Pantera’s “Domination” or Metallica’s “Eye Of The Beholder” and Slayer’s “Skeletons Of Society” and know who was first in each case. “Cold” may be perfect but the huge ballad “To Whom It May Concern” is another perfection, clearly influenced by Trivium but also, structurally, to modern Machine Head and Pantera’s “This Love” or “Floods” especially when it gets to the solo almost certainly a tribute to the late Dimebag Darrel. These balladic Pantera-like tendencies also happen to close the album on the third perfect track “Vultures And Butterflies” which seems to address the modern plague of narcissists and their victims, or, perhaps just the borderline disorder, but, I hear Queensrÿche (which makes perfect sense because of guest clean highs by Todd La Torre) and Suicidal Tendencies’ severaly underrated “Love Vs. Loneliness” which is one of my favorite songs ever. The rest is just sort of mix of thrash and metalcore, but I have to note the very engaging Vulgar Display Of Power¹⁹⁹² Panteric “Snob” seriously hardcorish courtesy of guest vocals by Hatebreed’s Jamey Jasta, the Terrible Certainty¹⁹⁸⁷ Kreatoric “Rats” with verse riffs almost identical to Pantera’s “Heresy” (from their magnum opus Cowboys From Hell¹⁹⁹⁰), and, finally, the Seasons In The Abyss¹⁹⁹⁰ Slayer flavored anti-police killer brutality anthem “What Kills Us All” where the ending Spanish rap (where Angelus Apatrida raises the old nature vs. nature argument concerning systemic racism and declares themselves proud “always Antifa) is a bit ill-fitting to the furious thrash song, all of this to say that almost everything here (except 2 tracks) still deserves the final score I gave it.

Because this is a 5.5/6 review the flaws are relatively minor. The opening “Scavenger” is a very good song but it feels a little rushed, one-dimensional and pales in comparison to its successor, the mighty “Cold”, while “I Am Hatred” is such generic thrash I gave it a 4.5 at best. Additionally, the intergenre experimentation, as in the excellent wah-wah Metallica soloed “Gernika” sounds good, is all fun games, but feels a bit formulaic at this point which is probably why the remaining 3 tracks are so different from one another. It is, though, that same variety that, so right and welcome and balanced on the predecessor, here appears a bit too all over the place with frequent disregard for maintaing the momentum.

In summary, Aftermath²⁰²³ is a fantastic release proving Guillermo Izquierdo (guitars, vocals) David G. Álvarez (guitars), Guillermo’s brother José J. Izquierdo (bass) and Víctor Valera (drums) are some of the best songwriters on the scene now, yet, mindful of one of my fb friends’ concern that they sound like they’re getting ready to abandon thrash to the benefit of modern metalcore like so many of their modern thrash peers, I do give an honest 5.5 but with a slightly cautious view to the future.

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