Q&A: Guillermo Izquierdo & Angelus Apatrida Destroy The World (Except America)

Angelus Apatrida

Angelus Apatrida, the heaviest, most riff-filled thrash metal outfit you’ve never heard of. Friends, fiends, and thrashoholics, Spain’s best kept secret–at least in the United States–turns 18 this year. Officially old enough to drink, smoke, and thrash with the best of ’em, Angelus Apatrida have just released their sixth full-length Cabaret de la Guillotine via Century Media.

Actually, the members of Angelus Apatrida turned 18 years ago, but their labor of love has now entered the “Golden Era,” where songwriters Guillermo Izquierdo and David G. Álvarez are at the top of their thrash metal game. That’s right. Across Cabaret de la Guillotine, the deadly duo spew out volcanic riffs–check out “Sharpen the Guillotine,” “Ministry of God,” and “Downfall of the Nation”–like seasoned pros. With Cabaret de la Guillotine, they’ve entered the same league as Cavalera/Kisser, Demmel/Flynn, and Christian/Donnelly, so don’t let the Spaniards’ obscurity pass you by.

Decibel and Izquierdo exchanged a few lines about Angelus Apatrida and new album Cabaret de la Guillotine. America must be destroyed! Or at least murdered in the front row by Spain’s most significant thrash metal export since, well, Fuck Off.

A few years separate new album, Cabaret de la Guillotine, from Hidden Evolution. What have the members of Angelus Apatrida been up to in the 3-year span?
Guillermo Izquierdo: Touring, turing and… yes! More touring! We didn’t stop for 3 years. We started in January of 2015 with the tour for Hidden Evolution, in Spain, then the rest of Europe for three different tours, plus tons of festivals all over the continent, headlining one Latin American tour of around 18 dates in 10 different countries, then heading to Asia and Australia, headlining China, Japan, Taiwan, and Australia! Man, it’s been a lot! After that in early 2017 we started to compose new material and setting up exact dates for recording and producing our new album. It’s already been three years since our last release and it was time for us to get back to work on a new album!

Cabaret de la Guillotine is your sixth album. How would you compare the new album to, say, your debut Evil Unleashed?
Guillermo Izquierdo: There are 15 years between the songs we composed for Evil Unleashed and the new songs on Cabaret de la Guillotine. We were just kids back then. We’ve all grown up around the band, growing together, musically, technically, and personally. Everything is bigger now! But it’s always been like this,: every new album, every step, and yeah Cabaret de la Guillotine is our sixth album, fourth professional one, also fourth with Century Media Records. We always feel like it’s a new beginning with tons of new things to learn!

Culturally, would you say there’s Spanish or Castile-La Manchan influence in what you do musically and conceptually? Maybe a Spanish approach or viewpoint to common topics?
Guillermo Izquierdo: The only influence of this country is all the bad things that happened here over the ages, politically and historically. We love Spain, we do love our fellow Spaniards, and of course some of the best artists in the world were born in Spain, but the influence I get for lyrics comes from dictatorship, fascism, corruption, the sadness, and poorness we feel about how this beautiful country can’t be what it deserves to be. We are even worse off than 50 years ago when murderer fascist dictator Franco took over the country and started Spain’s “darkest times.” These continue through today from a false and corrupt transition. I feel patriotic. I love Spain, but my Spain died in 1936. We could be the vanguard of Europe, culturally, politically, and socially.

There’s more to Cabaret de la Guillotine than thrash. It’s a very diverse record. What contributed or what was the spark that moved the songwriters to diversify the musical input?
Guillermo Izquierdo: We never close our minds to new influences. If we try [new music] and we like it, then it will definitely be part of Angelus Apatrida. On every new album we are doing the best that we can do. We never stop learning new things, so that’s why it is so diverse and rich, in my opinion.

Who are some of your primary influences? Have they changed over the years? I mean, I hear a bit of Testament, Forbidden, and Exodus, all Bay Area bands.
Guillermo Izquierdo: Our main influences always have been bands like Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Metallica or Pantera. Of course, the Bay Area is one of my favorite musical movements of all time. We don’t hesitate to listen to new bands and styles. I started listening rock music around 25 years ago when I was 8, same for the rest of the band, and music is our passion.

What were the songwriting sessions like? Hard, easy, exciting, collaborative?
Guillermo Izquierdo: Depends. A bit of everything, depending on the day and the song. Normally, we pass through a period of lack of creativity–it could be months–then in one week I can compose a lot. Working on it with the rest of the members is always very exciting, very hard but of course satisfactory. Same for David [Álvarez; guitars] who is the other main songwriter.

What are some of your favorite songs (so far) on Cabaret de la Guillotine?
Guillermo Izquierdo: Right now I’d say “Ministry Of God,” “Downfall of the Nation,” “Farewell,” and “Sharpen the Guillotine,” but man, it’s the first time I’ve really enjoyed the entire album. Can’t decide just one song!

Daniel Cardoso was brought on again to produce the new album. What is it that Cardoso gets about Angelus Apatrida that sets him apart from other producers?
Guillermo Izquierdo: Well, this time it was the band alone who produced the album, although Cardoso helped a lot with that. It’s always fun and very satisfactory to work with him. The reason that we haven’t worked with someone else is can’t find someone better.

And where does the title originate? It’s of French origin, right? Like a place to grab snacks while peoples’ heads were chopped off. How pleasant.
Guillermo Izquierdo: Yes! Le Cabaret de la Guillotine was a restaurant near the executions. You can read this about the original name: “Spectators could buy souvenirs, read a program listing the names of the victims, or even grab a quick bite to eat at a nearby restaurant called ‘Cabaret de la Guillotine.'” When we see all the bad things in the news, injustice, etc., sometimes we say, “Dude, we need guillotines back in the squares… Let’s do this a-la-Française!”

Tell me about the artwork by Gyula Havancsák. What are you trying to communicate with it?
Guillermo Izquierdo: Well, I told Gyula the concept of the title and some hints about the song “Sharpen the Guillotine”–it was one of the former titles for the album. Since we are a heavy metal band, we wanted to have heavy metal artwork. We had enough mystical or conceptual things. Now, it’s time for fucking blood everywhere.

** Angelus Apatrida’s new album, Cabaret de la Guillotine, is out now on Century Media (EU). The raging slab is available on CD and LP (HERE). Truly, for genuine thrashoholics and ‘bangers into murdering the front row.