Pumpehuset, Copenhagen, DEN - 21/4
Written by: AP on 14/01/2017 10:13:17
With three quarters of the Big Four having released new albums in 2016, it is in some way remarkable that the honour of the year’s finest thrash record should be bestowed upon such an unlikely actor as Vektor. Those in the know have of course been in thrall of the Tempe, AZ-based group (temporarily reduced to a one-man army as of the beginning of this month) ever since the release of their ’80s revivalist “Black Future” LP in 2009, but by and large, Vektor has remained one of the genre’s best kept secrets even after garnishing the high-velocity clobbering with proggy flirtations on 2011’s “Outer Isolation”. And on this latest outing, “Terminal Redux”, the band continues to be an epiphany in the waiting, frontman David DiSanto’s ambition, invention and musical aptitude far superseding what other contemporary thrash metal acts can muster — surely, even some of the Old Guard must be struck with awe, hearing it.
Set against the conceptual framework of — nerd alert — a military general astronaut rising to political power among the intergalactic Cygnus regime after discovering a mineral that could unlock the secret of immortality, “Terminal Redux” pushes Vektor’s ultra-technical variant of thrash metal even further than its predecessor, inviting the listener on a 74-minute journey of dizzying complexity and apparently limitless ingenuity. One of the byproducts of the band’s more is more philosophy is that the vast majority of the tracks refuse to conform to a specific formula. They grow, twist and contort into ever more elaborate structures that show little regard for verse and chorus; switch gear, accelerate and decelerate at will; and seem to be held in situ only by the periodic injection of hooks. The approach is precarious, but Vektor handles it with finesse. Even at its most angular, there is always a groove, a sense of coherence about the music, sewn by the tightness with which the band executes.
Indeed, it is not on the shoulders of incisive singles that “Terminal Redux” thrives, even if the ridiculously catchy “Pillars of Sand” would have it otherwise. The neo-classical tinges, the shifting, darkly grandiose melodies, and the crushing vocal delivery of ”Time! is a clock on the wall we command!, and its hands made from pillars of sand! On our watch we don’t seek what we find!, left bereft by the passage of time!” with DiSanto’s shrill growls in the chorus, crystallise into song I will not hesitate to nominate as a modern classic — a lesson in how to craft lasting value out of extreme metal. Elsewhere, the memorabilia is not so markedly cut out, but for other jaw-dropping moments, look no further than the symphony of charred riffs cascading through “Cygnus Terminal”, the buzzsaw shredding that powers “LCD (Liquid Crystal Disease”, and the Slayer-esque eeriness that reigns over “Pteopticon”.
But in order to discover the true meaning of Vektor’s ambition, one must possess the gift of patience. Bestowed with the honour of concluding the record, “Collapse” and “Recharging the Void” account for 23 minutes of the total runtime and uncover hitherto unseen aspects of the band, positioning them nearer to the modern prog maestros of Between the Buried and Me than their proudly worn influences Death, Slayer and Voivod. Singing, lengthy clean guitar constellations, ethereal female chanting and stark juxtapositions of dark and light all combine to epitomise modern progressive metal in a stunning crescendo, striking a bold line under Vektor’s widely unrecognised status as one of the most crucial, definitive metal bands in the world right now. One must then hope that DiSanto succeeds in procuring a new ensemble of musicians capable of realising his ideas, lest Vektor goes down in history as yet another visionary artist whose untimely demise metalheads will have to mourn. Regardless of the uncertain future though, few can argue against “Terminal Redux” being the kind of masterpiece to shape a genre and continue to influence aspiring musicians for years to come.
Download: Cygnus Terminal, LCD (Liquid Crystal Disease), Pteropticon, Pillars of Sand, Recharging the Void
For the fans of: Dark Angel, Death, Slayer, Voivod
Release date 06.05.2016