Words by Alex Distefano
11 months ago, international thrash metal band Angelus Apatrida (translated Fallen Angels) was just about to embark on a tour of its home country of Spain, throughout Europe, and beyond, for a celebration of the band’s 20th anniversary. But the Covid-19 Pandemic had different plans for and what has now become an all too familiar story - all tours and live events have been on pause since March of 2020.
“Just when the Pandemic began and caused the lockdowns in Spain and the rest of Europe, we were just starting our tour,” said guitarist/vocalist Guillermo Izquierdo. “We had to come back and quarantine, like everyone else. So we didn’t know what to do with our time,” he said.
However, in a decision to turn a negative situation into something positive, Izquierdo said the band decided invest the momentum that went into the anniversary tour into the making of a new album during the pandemic.“The lockdown was tough for us all, but we focused on our music and kept our minds occupied with that,” Izquierdo said. “It was good therapy to deal with what was going on in the world.”
Izquierdo said that in 2019 the band started to work on what was to eventually become a new album, but planned so many tours and festival appearances in 2020, they thought they would run out of time in the studio. “So, in 2019 we decided to do an EP, and the tours we had planned, but obviously things didn’t go as planned.”
With seven total full length albums under their belt, five under the Century Media Records banner, the band’s product of the pandemic in their self titled record was just released this month. It is an album which Izquierdo said was inspired by and written during one of the worst years in our collective memory. “We’ve always played metal and had a thrash kind of sound, but these songs are a bit more aggressive,” Izquierdo said. “The music and the lyrics too; they are more intense. We’ve never been an extremely political band, we just stand for human rights and against oppression. Things going in in the world definitely influenced our music for this record though.”
Izquierdo said that much like the civil unrest and protests over racism and police brutality in the United States with the murder of George Floyd, were happening in Europe and Spain as well. The band were compelled to capture the current events in song. “We didn’t have massive protests in the streets like in America, but in Spain we had lots of incidents or racism. For example ‘Indoctrinated’ is an example of this.”
However, Izquierdo is quick to assert that the album is not intended to be pessimistic. In fact, the aim is the exact opposite. “I would say this album has a message of positivity during these crazy times with the pandemic and the political chaos going on everywhere,” he said. The frontman suggests that the aggression of the album is means to work through the frustration of the current climate in a way that's productive. Rest assured, there is plenty to be frustrated about.
Izquierdo explained his girlfriend remains employed at a local hospital, so many others surrounding him are out of work, and the government is slow to provide any kind of financial relief. “With the band, it’s a company and touring is our main job, so it’s been extremely rough,” he said. “Our government in Spain is doing the best they can but it’s not enough. People are out of work and don't have ways to earn a living.”
The frontman further detailed his situation. “For instance, I just found out that we will not be able to get any money for relief because we were recording a new album during part of 2020, and we did get some incoming money from Century Media. But that was spent paying for the studio. We didn’t really make any money but according to our government we were working and made income, so we don’t get any unemployment,” he said. “It’s just a joke. But I choose to laugh at this whole mess though. With this, the virus and everything, everyday it seems like the world is turning into Black Mirror.”
There is some light at the end of this tunnel however. Despite the current wave of Covid-19 cases around the world, some countries are beginning to slowly reopen their economies, allowing at least some portion of the population to get back to a slight sense of normalcy. That means for Angelus Apatrida, the stage is less distant, though it will most certainly be different from what they have known before.
“I’m happy to announce that in March we will have some smaller, social distanced shows set up, that will be announced soon,” Izquierdo said. “These shows will only be in Spain. We need it for the income because we’re living off our savings and we got very little help from our government.”
Izquierdo said the two for certain, possibly three concerts the band has lined up will be regulated with strict social distancing measures to keep people safe from spreading the virus. “These shows are going to be in huge venues, where our government has made sure that the audiences will be cut drastically, '' he said. “In venues that fit thousands of people, our shows will have less than 500 all spread out.”
Izquierdo said explained that while the band is excited to share their music live again, the real thrill remains traveling to other countries to spread their searing brand of shred. It's a reality that still seems way too far off to be hopeful about. “We have no idea when touring can begin again, and I try to be optimistic but I think it won’t be till next year for us to tour outside of Spain.”
Adamant about picking up where they left off, Angelus Apatrida still intends on celebrating the 20th anniversary of their start. “We are not old by any means, we still have energy and our birthday gift is having this new album because it’s a rebirth,” the guitarist/vocalist said. “We were a great band, and had success in Spain for years, but no one else in the world outside of Spain knew about us until we began working with Century Media around 10 years ago. They really put us on the map. Plus, they are all metalheads, they listen to the music, they are fans, not business men in suits. So we’re happy to be part of the Century Media family.”
In explaining the band's continued global reach, Izquierdo does assert his pride in being a big part of a burgeoning culture of metal music that is still in its infancy in Spain. “The Spanish metal scene is huge, and only getting bigger,” he said. “But our scene is so young; and it’s like that with everything in Spain due to the dictatorship the country was under for so many years, so now people in Spain have been getting into heavy metal music and punk rock and it’s great.”
As for the future, the uncertainty remains common denominator for most everyone. The outlook is murky at best and while the world sits with their fingers crossed, the answers don't provide much clarity. “I’m not sure summer festivals in the EU will happen. No one has canceled the festivals yet but there is no word on whether they will go on. At this point no one has any information either way, so who knows?” Izquierdo said. “I think we might be able to do shows in Spain, but touring outside of our country probably won't happen till 2022 in my opinion. We have to just wait and see what happens.”
If nothing else, the world has another record to help pass the time,
The self-titled record from Angelus Apatrida is now available via Century Media Records - HERE