There has been a lot of buzz about Philadelphians Vektor and their new album Terminal Redux this year. Released back in May, I figured it was time to check them out. This was an eye opener for sure. Much like when I “got” Between the Buried and Me, Ensiferum, Devin Townsend, or Revocation, I think I am almost there with this band. As Vektor‘s sonic barrage poured from my vehicle’s speakers for the first time, I was hooked. Often compared to Voivod, Vektor explores sci-fi themes lyrically and has the occasional (i.e., opening of Cygnus Terminal) musical similarity, but Vektor has a style all their own. Of course their logo bears more than a passing resemblance to Snake‘s crew. To be a total dork, I would call it Technical Blackened Progressive Thrash – yeah, whatever. No matter what you tag this as, it rules.
Controlled chaos is the idea that permeates this album. Incredible musicianship and songwriting that shifts among a very technical style of Thrash, placid melodic passages, and big, epic soundscapes. The one thing I struggle with in Vektor‘s delivery of the Metal goods is David DiSanto’s very much Black Metal scream. Definitely outside of my comfort zone, but that is probably a good thing. His harshness is to the extreme for sure. The instrumental execution is unbelievably tight, complex, heavy, and completely engaging.
This is the type of album on which there is no “best” song, not “worst” song. It feels like a brutal musical stream of consciousness flowing from the band rather than a decad of individual songs. Vektor may not have set out to record a concept album, but Terminal Redux definitely feels like one. Clocking in at almost one and a quarter hours, there is a significant amount of musical genius to digest here. There are moments when DiSanto‘s screaming nearly carries some melody, some when the bass from Frank Chin shines through and takes the lead, many where the guitar work from DiSanto and Erik Nelson is a frenzied group of piranhas. Thrashing right along is drummer Blake Anderson who must end up passed out on the floor after playing a set of Vektor music. It isn’t until 3 songs in (about 25 minutes) that there is anything resembling a breather. It’s short lived though, as the band goes right back to pummeling us with blunt force and dangerous ferocity. Undoubtedly, the first part of the album is a non-stop assault, while later on there seems to be a bit more definition to the songs.
The final trio of songs come across as the strongest, most diverse part of Terminal Redux. I am a bit partial to Pillars of Sand. All of the previously mentioned elements are present, but I think it’s the melodic guitar lines that really grab me. It feels like perhaps one of the more focused tracks on Terminal Redux. Collapse takes a placid opening 3 minutes and expands on the theme through the remaining 6 minutes. Really a nicely done song with some clean singing as well as the BM harshness. The expansive 13 minute title track deserves a mention as well. The final five minutes are worth the price of admission alone.
Here is Pillars of Sand:
Who is Vektor influenced by? I can’t tell. Pretty much anything they’ve ever heard I imagine. I’d postulate that you’d also be hard pressed to figure that one out too. In the end, it really doesn’t matter because what this maniacal group does is different, fresh, and wickedly brutal. I know we go easy on bands around here a lot, and probably don’t discern enough, but if there were one album of 2016 (so far) that clearly distinguished itself from the pack, Terminal Redux is it. Unless Testament, Overkill, or Devin outdo this, I can’t see anyone else overtaking Vektor for mytop album of the year.
I hear the sound in a Metal way.
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