In the realm of thrash metal, few bands formed in the last two decades have carved a more enduring legacy than the Spaniards of Angelus Apatrida. As they prepare to unleash their latest sonic assault upon the world, “Aftermath,” we find ourselves on the brink of an exhilarating journey through the intricacies of their musical evolution. Guillermo Izquierdo, the esteemed guitarist and vocalist of this Spanish metal powerhouse, sat down with our collaborator Rodrigo Altaf to discuss the upcoming album and the sonic storm it promises to unleash upon their fans.
“Angelus Apatrida” translates to “stateless angels,” a name that has resonated throughout the global metal community for over two decades. Hailing from Albacete, Spain, this band has remained uncompromising in their pursuit of a sound that blends the ferocity of thrash with melodies that strike at the heart of their listeners. With a musical journey spanning seven studio albums, their latest release promises to be an unapologetic proclamation of their unwavering passion for the genre.
In this exclusive interview, Guillermo Izquierdo will peel back the layers of “Aftermath,” sharing insights into the creative process, the evolution of their sound, and the themes that have inspired this latest chapter in their storied career. Join us as we venture into the world of Angelus Apatrida, where metal’s angels are far from stateless; they’re at the forefront of an exhilarating new era.
Lotsofmuzik: Well, let’s talk about the new album “Aftermath”. Was it done with a similar writing process and recording as the previous one?
Guillermo: Not really. The writing process was completely different because we were touring a lot since the previous album came out. We were on tour like almost every month, every week for almost two years. So we didn’t have enough time, as compared to the pandemic when we had all time we wanted, and went on lockdown to work on new music. This time it was very different. We were composing this from time to time, especially when we were on tour. We only got like two months before entering the studio to put everything together, including preproduction. That’s why I think that maybe the album is more organic, more dynamic, and I would say sometimes more spontaneous than the previous one, would you agree. The recording process was similar, we used practically the same gear, just improving some cabinets and stuff. And we did it in the same place, in our home town of Albacete with our long time FOH engineer.
It’s very comfortable, very easy, at our own pace, so it’s like super cool to be in your own town recording. The previous one was also recorded there, but the other ones were recorded outside. Some of them were recorded in Portugal. It’s difficult sometimes to be out of your own home, you don’t have your own space, so yeah, this way it’s much more comfortable. And yeah, we repeated the same formula. We sent the album to Zeuss, our producer, to the US, and he worked on the mixing and mastering of the album. From a technical standpoint, it was practically the same as last one. Of course, everybody improving and trying to improve all the previous work done – something that I think that everybody was able to do. We’re pretty happy, and maybe on the next one we will use the same formula, because it’s really comfortable and really cool working that way.
LOM: I watched the movie you did, “28 Months Later, A Post-Apocalyptic Metal Documentary”. It was a cool way to update the fans on what you guys did during the pandemic, to show how the self-titled album was recorded and kind of paved the way for the new album.
Guillermo: Yeah, it came out in June. We finished this when we started recording “Aftermath” in April. The end of the documentary is the first days of the recording of the new album. So yeah, somehow, we wanted to explain what happened, because of course we’re really active on social media. So normally every day we post what we’re doing we upload videos or pictures and explain what we are doing. During the pandemic, we were explaining a lot about what was happening, but we knew that there were a lot of people that didn’t know exactly what happened with the band. And we wanted to do this because we made a very good end of the tour in Spain in January/2023, and we got a lot of very good material, and didn’t want to do just the typical recap video of the end of the tour. We thought about doing something else. So we started searching and finding more videos and more material from that era. We decided to do a longer video documenting and explaining how we lived in that period, how we managed to get out of that, how we managed to save our company and save the band. Well, actually it was the fans who saved us. The moment we were getting out of money was the moment that everybody started to buy albums, started to buy t-shirts and merch on our online store. Somehow, they saved the band in that way. I think it was a very cool and emotional thing to show. We’re not only metal heads, rockers, all that stuff. We also got our hearts here, and that was our way of saying thanks to everybody who helped us. And of course, for them to be aware of what’s coming next, with the new album that we would just start recording. It was cool because after the end of the tour in Spain, and until the beginning of the summer, we didn’t know what to do, what to explain. So it came at a perfect time for the people to know what we were doing during the last two years.
LOM: Speaking of the new album, I love the cover. To me it’s a mix of that final scene of the Joker movie, and the posters of the “Purge” franchise. Can you tell me what the inspiration behind it was?
Guillermo: It’s interesting. Nobody said that before, and yes, you are right! I feel like watching those movies again now, because It could be something like that! [laughs]. It’s about the aftermath after the pandemic and all that is happening in the world nowadays. With this concept in mind, the artist that drew the cover came in and delivered that. Initially the album was going to have a different title. But after discussing with the label and with some of our friends, we decided to name it Aftermath, which still makes sense with the idea that we have for the cover. But we came with this concept of “metalhead above everything”, you know, after the chaos, after whatever. It could be like a war or a pandemic or whatever, you know, it’s like alone there, like heavy metal is above everything. And especially above these gentlemen who are now resting in peace! [laughs]. They could be even those who didn’t give a single hand, and who didn’t help with anything during the pandemic to people like us who live for the music and by the music, this is our job. With the lockdown, we were not able to perform anywhere. We were not able to work, and couldn’t make shows or concerts until late in 2021. By July we could start playing some shows, and it was very difficult. And meanwhile, the rest of the jobs, the rest of the industry was getting a lot of help from the government, a lot of money. The music industry, especially the bands and the people who live from live music, didn’t get any kind of help. What the cover is trying to say is “heavy metal will prevail and will do so thanks to all metalheads. THEY help us and not these gentlemen down there”. I think it’s a really good concept, it’s a classic heavy metal cover, and that’s all. That’s the way they were like 20 or 30 years ago, and I like that. And why not? It was the right time for doing something like this. There’s no hdden message, it’s just a heavy metal cover.
LOM: When you describe it, I can’t help but think of a sentence that is in the replies of every YouTube video that you guys do, which is “heavy metal y nada mas”. I can’t help but think of that when I look at that cover.
Guillermo: Yeah! I saw that the label Century Media added this in every single video, and it’s quite cool that they put it in Spanish – heavy metal and nothing else!
LOM: One of the first songs to be revealed was “To Whom It May Concern”. The lyrics talk about someone afraid of being left alone, who’s deeply disturbed by his own thoughts. Tell me about that one!
Guillermo: The lyrics on that song are really, really deep, really personal. Mental health is a very important topic, and something that I’ve never paid much attention to before the pandemic. I think that it’s something that you are always trying to avoid, maybe due to stigma or we are afraid to admit that we have a problem, but it doesn’t mean that you are crazy. It’s something natural, like having a pain in your back, and then you go do physio. Or if you want to take care of all your body, you eat healthily and go to the gym. It’s important for me to try to express with my music that we should take care of our mental health. And there are some situations that I went through when I’ve been more depressed or with more anxiety or those kinds of things. You know, things that happen in your head. And I know thousands of people think the same, with a fear of staying behind or being left alone. I also wanted to address Alzheimer’s disease. It’s something that scares me more than death itself, because when you forget who you are and forget everything around you, to me it’s like living death, you know? It’s something really sad for me, and it helps me a lot to write about these things and put them naturally, without any stigma. And this is why maybe this song is really special for me. And every time I would rehearse and play it I really got those goosebumps, you know? And, then David [David G. Alvarez, guitarrist] came with this incredible solo, which I think is the best solo he made in his whole career. It’s just amazing. So far, it’s my favorite song on the album.
LOM: “Cold” is another high point for me, and it’s a song about someone trying to find his or her place in the world, right?
Guillermo: Yeah. It’s about the duality of existence. It’s something that I was able to talk about and realized, after going to a therapist and trying to accept yourself and accept your surrounding and the world you’re living in and accept everything and try not to be always getting mad or angry or sad. It’s like “this is the way we are, and we are good and we are evil, and sometimes we are fine, and sometimes we are just wrong, and sometimes we love ourselves and sometimes we just hate ourselves”. So the song talks completely about yin/yang, duality of existence. It’s a concept that I really liked and wanted to show it not only in the lyrics, but even in the video clip.
LOM: For me, the chorus of ‘Code’ is pure Gojiira!
Guillermo: I didn’t think about this, but I’m glad that you said it because I really like Gojira! [laughs]. We all grew up in the nineties. At the end of the nineties and in the beginning of the 2000’s, there were a lot of bands doing that kind of stuff. Of course, there were several nu metal bands doing these things, but all the bands from Sweden, for example In Flames early Arch Enemy, Carcass, At the Gates, or In Flames, all those bands who influenced Gojira, we were really into that when we were teenagers. And of course, we all love Gojira, I think is one of the best metal band nowadays. It’s the first time someone says that, and I’m really glad about that because I really love Gojira.
LOM: I wanna talk about Snob, which is the latest one to be revealed. It features Jamie Jasta from Hatebreed, and the topic here is obviously someone being betrayed. Was this based on your real life experience or not?
Guillermo: All the lyrics we write are related to what happened in our lives in one way or another. You know, sometimes there are more metaphoric, sometimes there are more straightforward, like this one We’ve been in this business professionally only for 13 years, but we’ve been in this band for 23 years already, since we were kids. We started as kids playing this. Remember when you had your first girlfriend? For us we were having our first girlfriends and our first band when we were 15 years old. Through all these years we saw a lot of shit in the music industry, you know? We were very lucky that 99% of the time we met wonderful people – bands, promoters, venues, fans, journalists, everybody is so cool. But there is this 1% that sometimes you have to deal with. We felt kind of betrayed – I guess I could say that. And then once you start writing about this, there’s a lot of things that, that is not only for that person, but we captured what was done by a lot of different people, during our professional career. And it was so cool that someone like Jamie wanted to, to collaborate on this one, I think it’s a really, really nice song. It’s a crossover song, combining trash metal with hardcore and getting back to the eighties when everybody was friend of each other [laughs]. To me that song is like a shot of adrenaline.
LOM: There are a few other guests on the album – the legendary Pablo Garcia of Warcry on “Fire Eyes”, Todd La Torre of Queensryche on “Vultures and Butterflies”, and the rapper Sho-Hai on “What Kills Us All”. How did each of them get involved, and what kind of stamp were they able to add to those songs?
Guillermo: Everything came together naturally – in a very easy way. The only one that we were supposed to collaborate with for a couple of years was Sho-Hai. He’s a rap star here in Spain, one of the most famous MCs. He’s one of the MCs of the biggest rap band here, called Violadores del Verso, and he’s a good friend of ours. I think he’s one of the few rappers that I know that really, really love metal. We met him because a long time ago, we were playing in Zaragoza, and he came to the show. He paid the ticket, and I remember playing that show and realizing “no way, this guy is on the crowd – he’s watching us! [laughs] And after the show, he was like, “dude, I love your band, that was an incredible show!”. After that we started talking much more and became friends. And this is something that we were joking about a long time ago. We tried to do something together, like in the eighties or in the nineties, a lot of bands in the US were doing, for example, the famous “Bring the Noise” song which Anthrax did with Public Enemy. So he said “okay, I would like to do something with you guys”. Instead of putting together a new band, we decided to just start doing a song together. So this is the only song that was composed with the purpose of collaborating. We wrote the middle part for him. All the other ones came up spontaneously. The one with Todd was one of the last songs that we recorded. Todd discovered the band two years ago as well – he’s a very good friend of Zeuss. And when we recorded with Zeuss, he really liked the band. We kept in contact by email and he complimented us and said “maybe we can do something together in the future”. Somehow I felt that it could be great to have Todd singing the part he does on “Vultures and Butterflies”. We asked him and he said yes straight away. It was kind of the same with with Jamie Jasta. I didn’t know him in person, but when we were negotiating to play at the Milwaukee Metal Fest, during the first part of this year, it happened that Jamie is the guy who resurrected the festival. I think he is the director or the CEO of the festival. I didn’t know that I was talking to Jamie just when we were negotiating the fee and all that stuff for the festival. So after that he just sent a message and said “I’m glad that you guys are on the festival. I really like your music. I really like your band, and it’s gonna be a pleasure to have you here”. And he signed James Jasta” . And I said to myself “of course it’s him!” [laughs]. And I told him “dude, I love Hatebreed since I was a kid, since your very first album. We are just recording right now, our new album. In case you really like our music, if you would like to collaborate, that would be great”. And he asked us to send the song and added his stuff, and came out great. And the same with Pablo from Warcry. He’s been a very good friend of us for a long time – he’s a guitar player for the super famous power metal band Warcry. He’s an incredible guitar player, and always said he would like to do something with us. It was like the perfect moment because we had never done this before – having so many guests on an album. Actually, we only got guests twice, and it was because they were friends of us as well. I don’t like the idea of labels and managers paying each other to have this on your band or this guy in your band. They don’t meet, and they even don’t know each other. In those cases it’s just business, you know? So I really like it the way it all went with us – just friends or people who respect each other and really want to help. In the case of Jamie Jasta, of course, for us, it’s a help. It’s very helpful that such a hardcore star wanted to sing with us. The same with Todd La Torre, but even Todd, he already knew us from the past, and he is like a fan of the band, so it’s even cooler. It’s even cooler this way. So that’s the way it happened. It was natural, spontaneous, and I’m really happy that we did it.
LOM: And I think if anything, it’s gonna put you guys even more in evidence and more on the map than before, right?
Guillermo: Definitely. You got more credibility, of course. Nowadays it’s so difficult to stay in evidence, you know? We are an old band, but we are still a new band for all the people outside Spain or Europe, especially outside Europe. We’re completely a new band for the United States or for Canada. We only toured there once. So it will really help to keep on growing and of course getting more credibility because there are thousands of bands every day, everywhere competing for attention. In that sense, it’s very helpful. And I want to stress that we didn’t pay for the guests. We didn’t pay for Jamie for Todd or anyone else. They did it because they really like it. So, I mean, this is the point of credibility that we really needed.
LOM: Of course. And speaking of touring, you did the tour in the US last year – your first time in North America, and now you’re preparing for a few dates with Death Angel and Sacred Reich in Europe. What else is coming after that?
Guillermo: After this tour with Death Angel and Sacred Reich, we’re coming back to Spain and we’re doing a long campaign here. We’re playing almost every weekend from the end of November to mid-February. We’re playing almost every weekend here in Spain and Portugal. It’s something that we didn’t do for a long time. We really wanted to do like a big tour, not only playing in the most important cities like we did in January, but playing in the rest of, of the country, which is a big country. It’s not that big like North America, but it’s still a big country comparing with other ones in Europe. So yeah, we want to do that. And after that we are working to come back to Asia in Australia, we’re doing a lot of work with promoters right now. The last time we were there was in 2016, and we really want to come back. Also we are working to come back to Latin America in the same period, and of course, coming back to North America. It’s one of the main goals coming back there. We got working visas. I want to spend next year touring a lot, especially in places where we’re not really known. I would like to go to North America before the summer of 2024, but we’ll see if it’s possible. We played this year in Ottawa and Montreal in May, and I would like to visit the Western part of Canada as well.
LOM: I get a little bit of influence from Chuck Billy of Testament in your singing – am I right in saying that?
Guillermo: I’m a huge fan of Testament…but I never wanted to be a singer, so I can’t really say which singer influenced me the most because I never even thought about that! My favorite band ever is Iron Maiden, and I love Bruce Dickinson. I grew up with Metallica and Megadeth and I love the way that Dave Mustaine and James Hetfield sing. I could say Chuck Billy is an influence – I really love all the Bay Area thrash metal bands. I think over the years my voice changed and I got a little bit more comfortable singing. To me it’s natural that all those bands I was influenced by came across as an influence on the vocals as well. I could also mention Phil Anselmo from Pantera, Nuclear Assault and Slayer as influences.
LOM: I’m curious about the change in direction you guys had in your early days. I understand you started more as a power metal band and evolved to thrash metal? What prompted that change?
Guillermo: We didn’t even know what was thrash metal when we were kids. I’ve been a fan of metal since I was eight years old. My brothers as well. I started the band with my two brothers – one of them is our bass player. We all liked the same kind of music, the same bands…and ou first singer had a really high voice, so it was fitting that our material had really high-pitched vocals. It reminded us a lot of German power metal and we did cover songs of Iron Maiden and Helloween. But also, we covered Metallica, Pantera etc. After two years, our singer quit because he wanted to go to college. We wanted to record a demo and play some shows, so we tried out a couple of guys who didn’t work. We live in a small city, so it was difficult to find someone. One day, we were having a beer and we met Victor again, and convinced him to come back to the band. He rejoined and tried vocals, but it wasn’t really working. He learned drums really quickly and joined us as a drummer. I was doing some backing vocals with the other singer in the beginning, so I was convinced to try out. Somehow, I found the skills to sing and play at the same time, and we started to write more songs that would fit my voice and play more Megadeth and Metallica covers. Our new songs were more on the thrash vein, even though we didn’t even know exactly what thrash was. Shortly after I got my computer and THEN we realized that what we did was thrash. But “officially”, we’re still looking for a vocalist, twenty-one years later! [laughs]
LOM: What advice would you give to a young band who are starting now and are thinking about pursuing a career in the music business?
Guillermo: That’s a tough one. I know we were very lucky – there was a chain of consequences that helped us in the beginning. First of all, we are from Albacete, a very small town. All the successful bands from Spain are from either Madrid or Barcelona, which are much bigger and have many more venues to play. Even in our town, the competition was tough. We gained a good reputation and great feedback from the local bands and were able to play in the bigger cities in 2004. It came somewhat easy for us, but I think it was luck. In 2008 we were playing in Madrid and there were two representatives from Century Media who saw us play. After that, things happened pretty quickly. My advice to the new bands is to do what their heart feels. Don’t put yourself goals – we never had goals, or this or that which we had to do otherwise we would fail. Our only goal was to play. If and when the moment comes, you will be able to quit your job and only play. That happened to us in 2010…it’s important to be ambitious, do your best and hope to succeed, but don’t be frustrated with these goals Try to be humble, and learn from other bands. Try not to be an asshole and not to have any ego problems. That’s the advice I can give. It might be just luck, but you have to find that luck – nothing will happen to you if you only stay in your rehearsal room. Try to improve and get your music to be listened to, and someday it will happen. For us, we were at the right place and at the right time.
LOM: Do you think that eventually, in order for the band to be bigger, you will have to move to the United States?
Guillermo: I don’t think so. We asked ourselves the same question when we considered moving to Madrid about 15 years ago. Right before the pandemic we discussed moving to Germany. But nowadays the world is so globalized, that it doesn’t really matter. It would be great to be bigger in Germany, because it’s one of the biggest markets in Europe. But right now we’re a big band in Spain, and 80% of our income comes from Spain, with big festivals and headlining tours, so it makes sense for us to focus here. About moving to the US, I don’t know – if it happens that we’re successful enough and we’re able to sort out visas and all the paperwork, we could think about it, why not? But in the experience I had with other bands, it looks like nowadays the underground scene in Europe is bigger than the States. We’ll just have to wait and see.
LOM: Guillermo, thank you so much for the interview, and all the best with “Aftermath”!
Guillermo: Thanks a lot, Rodrigo!
ANGELUS APATRIDA –
1. Scavenger (03:47)
2. Cold (05:53)
3. Snob (feat. Jamey Jasta) (04:33)
4. Fire Eyes (feat. Pablo García) (05:26)
5. Rats (04:12)
6. To Whom It May Concern (08:38)
7. Gernika (03:59)
8. I Am Hatred (03:27)
9. What Kills Us All (feat. Sho-Hai) (05:02)
10. Vultures And Butterflies (feat. Todd La Torre) (04:44)
Note: The Ltd. CD Jewelcase in O-Card in its first pressing and the Digital Album will feature the
following bonus tracks: 11. Indoctrinate (Live in Bilbao 2023) (06:27) & 12. Give ‘Em War (Live in
Barcelona 2023) (03:30).
Guillermo Izquierdo – Vocals & Lead/Rhythm Guitars
David G. Álvarez – Lead & Rhythm Guitars
José J. Izquierdo – Bass Guitar
Víctor Valera – Drums
Evil Unleashed – CD 2006
Give ‘Em War – CD 2007
Clockwork – CD/LP 2010
The Call – CD/LP 2012
Evil Unleashed / Give ‘Em War – 2CD 2013
Hidden Evolution – CD/LP 2015
Cabaret de la Guillotine – CD/LP 2018
Angelus Apatrida – CD/LP 2021
Aftermath – CD/LP 2023