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With a (slight) dose of hyperbole, the "New Wave of Thrash Metal" scene, disappointingly often, sounds as if someone has placed inside a blender many different, tasty dishes (Metallica, Kreator, Exodus etc), blended them to the point of mush and emptied the result on a plate with a Repka cover and a Nuclear Assault logo. It can be very tasty, no argument there but how many times can you take the same thing? Let me put it in a different way. Masturbation is highly amusing but if you want to have children, you need someone else who is not you. Because thrash has stagnated and I don’t know for how much longer we’re gonna have albums like The Gathering, M-16, Tempo of the Damned or Ironbound to save the genre. We (as in we, the thrash fans) need new blood to take things forward and out of their boundaries, just like it happened back in the day. And no, The Haunted and Lamb of God or The Blackening (Machine head), no matter how great, are just not the same thing.
All that weirdness of an intro because I'd like to make some bold statements now. The first is that Vektor is the best thrash metal band right now out of all the new ones, meaning all bands formed from 2000 onwards. On a personal basis, I mean out of all those who were formed after the 80s. Which is not as bold as it sounds, it rather says more about the state of thrash metal the past 20 years. The second statement is that Black Future and Outer Isolation are respectively the best thrash metal albums from a band that did not record in the 80s.
We’re talking about infernal thrash metal that dips its toes into the technical death metal of the 90s pioneers, the black metal of later-era Emperor, progressive music regardless of age, which manages to sound incredibly coherent and hyper-intense at the same time. It’s not always the catchiest mix and apart from some dynamites, their songs (on Black Future included) need friction, repeated listens. Some songs (again from both albums), no matter how enjoyable – and they are, do not commit to memory without intensive listening sessions and that is the small issue that deprives them of the 0.5 for the perfect ten, which it has already gained in my fan’s mind, just like its predecessor.
The other small issue is the vocals. You are either gonna love the voice of mastermind / composer / singer / guitarist David DiSanto (right away or with a little getting used to it) or you’re going to say “leave it”. It’s a mixture of Chuck Schuldiner of the Sound of Perseverance era, with a rabid Schmier-of-old elations, Insahn grating, that belongs to the frontman of a black thrash band in a filthy club on Mos Eisley, Tatooine. I loved it from the very first moment but it’s definitely the deal breaker here.
If none of the above phased you, dive in. Cosmic Cortex, in ten minutes (of the catchy variety) had me noting “album of the year?” But when Echoless Chamber kicked in, along with the subsequent repeats in numbers I hadn’t reached in years, I simply erased the question mark. I dub it the “hit song” of the album, half mid-tempo, nightmarishly delicious with its robotic sinister groove, it breaks out at the two minute mark in the best speed/thrash metal I’ve heard in a long time. And in the middle of all that mayhem they throw in a pure melodic prog metal section as well (always full on frenzy of course).
Expect to hear a band amazingly tight, where every member is a highly-skilled player. Compositions that are bold, fresh and perfected, whether they are the proper versions of their demo songs (for the fans: oh, they are, Fast Paced Society has blackened a bit but it rips and Tetrastructural Minds has achieved godly status), or new material that is burning hot. You will also find grand moments in the self-titled song, which combines speed metal with black metal of the most epic intentions.
Finally, two words about the production. Excellent. Modern, highly serving, crystal-clear, powerful and most importantly, original and anti-plastic. The more deathly awesome the album is, the more the sound resonates with life. Vektor has already taken a prominent place in the scene, two consecutive awesome albums have always been excellent credentials in thrash (think about it). Looking at the appetite and determination that DiSanto and the rest of the guys exert however, I think we haven’t even started yet.
Check also: Aspid - Extravasation (1992) - Russian tech-thrash, very obscure, very much worth it and a crucial element to the Vektor sound.
Originally published in Greek in Metal Hammer Greece, December 2011
Every once in a while, there comes along a band which seems like it's doing everything right, and people eat the shit up. You might even walk past a room playing "Echoless Chamber," hear twenty seconds of it, and think it's the most goddamn legit thing in the world--blazing solos, riffs preciser and cleaner than Monk's whistle, and vocals which use the aforementioned whistle to massacre dogs on the other side of the globe. Many will find this so legit that speaking a negative word in Vektor's direction will incite a tongue-lashing that permanently damages the delicate taste buds whereupon. Any potential detractors (c'mon, I know you're out there!) are forced to remain in the shadows, stewing about in indignation and ruminating on the lack of explicit flaws in Vektor's monolithic constructions. The self doubt inevitably kicks in. What's wrong with me?! Why don't I like it? Surely this band is the savior of thrash, right? Surely these are the heirs to the vacant, unappreciated kingdom left behind by the likes of Watchtower and Deathrow, correct?
Nope. My taste buds are still intact, and the silence ends now: this band fucking sucks, and I hate them.
Because once you get past that promising excerpt, that pleasurable walking-by phenomenon which makes even the most vapid metallic ventures sound promising, nothing about Outer Isolation is quite right. The songs swirl their way in and out of view, relying on endless repetition to drive the point home rather than genuinely engaging guitar work. When I was originally still attempting to delude myself into liking this band, the emptiness of it all could never leave the back of my mind, even as I was passively admiring the instrumentation and talent of Vektor's individual components. Sure, these songs are hard to play, and the solos are face-melting in theory, but there's really nothing to them at all. Where prog and tech thrash progenitors like Voivod and Mekong Delta put musicianship in the backseat to accentuate their twisty, perplexing song progressions, Vektor brings out the technical prowess to the forefront, only to forget about writing tracks that aspire to anything more than bland verse-chorus structures and interminable displays of their ever-apparent talent. It never refrains from refrains, and as a result, Outer Isolation ends up being poppier than a bubble-blowing party hosted by Spongebob Squarepants underneath its try-hard esoteric exterior.
Let's use a somewhat related classic, the inimitable Rust in Peace, as a comparison. Besides being so utterly astounding that it has to make you wonder what the hell Megadeth were doing for the rest of their career, Rust is also a prime example of achievement through restraint. Instead of repeating the same goddamn thing over and over again with as much speed as they could humanly fathom, Deth and co. managed to achieve a much greater form of excess: packing as many awesome things and independent highlights into a relatively short running time, using repetition sparsely as emphasis rather than, well, excessively as a crutch. Sure, they could have repeated the chorus of "Tornado of Souls" three more times and few would complain, but they knew better. They knew that the scarcity of such moments magnified their power. Twenty years later, however, Vektor has completely misconstrued what makes Rust and comparable albums so great. With that shiny yellow gem's material in these Americans' hands, the album would have been twice as long and approximately one fifth as enjoyable. These songs flit about like one-winged butterflies headlong into the mouths of predators (aka much better bands), milking the few novel ideas they stumble upon--or, more accurately, crash into--for lengths of six to eight minutes at a time rather than building upon those ideas to make something truly great.
Instead of premature ejaculation, Vektor seems to fall prey to an equally humiliating debilitation which resides on the opposite end of the spectrum. Let's call it postmature impotence. They manage to attain interest with their pleasant guitar melodies and razor-sharp riffing, but that initial interest is never stimulated to the degree that any actual enjoyment comes about. The thing about the best thrash of the 80s was that it felt wild, exciting, off the cuff, etc. Even when the more technically minded groups were stroking their egos and phalluses (phallusi? phallusae?) with increasingly painstaking compositions, you always got the feeling that you never knew what could happen next. It felt vital, real. And that's the cardinal sin of Outer Isolation: it's utterly counterfeit. It's a product of the kind of folks who put stuff together on GuitarPro without ever picking up an instrument, gleefully stitching compositions with digital copy and paste procedures ad nauseum rather than giving them any nuances of their own. It's as sterile-sounding as fucking Rings of Saturn.
Now, don't get me wrong here; I'm not a kvlt kiddie who demands that each metal release be issued on a tape whose soundscapes are decorated with static and the artist's aural semen. I like clean production jobs just fine when they fit the material, and am in no way claiming that Vektor "cheated" using such techniques if they did. However, when the aesthetics not only inherently clash with the artistic vision involved, but transmit into the mentality and form of the songs themselves, as they do in spades here, I can only shudder. I liken the sound of this album to an overprotective parent. Johnny wants to be fast, Johnny wants to be brutal, but Mommy won't let him go outside past three in the afternoon without a nightlight and a cheek-pinching chaperone. In such a colorful, friendly environment, the abrasive and utterly ugly vocals are left without a home, feeling as out of place as high tech laser beams in a John Wayne western. The hasty riffs, try as the might to elicit genuine violence, are constantly reduced by the speed bumps of their powerless delivery. I've never heard such a generally fast album that was as energy-free as this one. Imagine trying to headbang to the jingle of a breakfast cereal commercial. Now imagine biting into said cereal and discovering that it's actually made of Nerf foam, and you have Vektor.
And I hate that I hate this so much, I really do. I dream every day of finding a new Realm, a new Secrecy, a new Coroner, or anything within a continent of such acts. But this just isn't it, and maybe it's my fault that I want it to be. None of that, however, changes the fact that everything about it is so fundamentally wrong to me that I can't manage to extract a single ounce of enjoyment from listening to it. This is any other *insert mocking name of choice for new thrash* band, but dressed up with pretty colors and delusions of grandeur so convincing that they're taking the world by storm. In the end, I'm left with another CD to throw into the dark recesses of discs which never understood what made my favorite sub-subgenre of music so great.
And that was my grump for the day. Now I can stop shouting the abridged version of this rant at random pedestrians who don't know any better.
Holy shit. This is some of the most intense and interesting progressive thrash metal I’ve heard. Vektor is definitely the most interesting band to have come out of the new thrash wave that was popular in the late 2000’s/early 2010’s, playing a sort of proggy thrash metal that takes heavily from Voivod and Obliveon while retaining a rather large originality. Outer Isolation, Vektor’s sophomore studio effort, further solidifies this position that they managed to create with their debut, Black Future.
The 8 songs on this album surround the theme of a man lost in space and the thoughts that race through his head as he deals with his situation and human existence. The songs are somewhat lengthy, with 5 tracks at 5-6 minutes in length and 3 tracks running at 3, 8 and 10 minutes.
Each song flows between intense, headbang inducing thrash and non-pretentious proggy sections which is lead by some immaculate, shredding leads, catchy rhythms, encapsulating bass and intense drumming (blast beats and otherwise). And those vocals, my god those vocals; David DiSanto’s vocals have to be the most notable thing about Vektor purely because of the sheer absurdity of the pitch and tone that he screams out. There are numerous times throughout this album that the vocals seem to extend into sheer inhuman highs, including the vocal intro to Tetrastructral Minds (video below) which, no exaggeration, is this generation’s Angel of Death (in regards to that scream). What these vocals manage to do is to not only retain a level of intensity that the riffing and drumming invokes but also manage to remain surprisingly intelligible, catchy (thanks to some superior song writing) and awe-inspiring, layering the album with more outstanding elements to whack Vektor ahead of the re-thrash mob.
The instrumentation during the thrashy parts of the songs (as mentioned above many times) is intense and will do more than just satisfy any person who deems themselves a thrasher while the proggy sections actually complement the thrash parts well, retaining a level of intensity and strangeness (the intro to Venus Project for example) that Voivod would be proud of, and at their least intense manage to keep above pretension and produce the most haunting sections of this album. It is all tied in extremely well with a solid level of production quality that sits perfectly with the type of music Vektor plays (which needs a high production to not drown any instrument out) without breaching into over polished.
There’s nothing really overtly wrong with this album (nor the debut for that matter), although the vocals will be a surprise for anyone expecting basic thrash vocals since they combine elements of black metal shrieks, thrash shouts and inhumane screams.
This album is perfect for anyone craving Voivod inspired progressive and intense thrash and is highly recommended for anyone who is seeking a little more out of the new thrash movement (that is dying off at the time of writing). Seriously watch this space for more killer Vektor releases, these guys should have some sick stuff up their sleeves.
I first stumbled on to Vektor when I was browsing through youtube looking for new bands. Thank God I found them, because this is one of the greatest albums I've ever heard. Vektor manages to weave an onslaught of progressive thrash riffs and unique blast beats with sic-fi lyrics that belong in a Star Wars movie. "Outer Isolation" thematically illustrates the story of a man lost in space, with nothing to but think about life and reflect on the cosmos that surround him. Seems boring, right? Think again. The eight face-ripping tracks on this sci-fi thrash ballad rip apart any notion of generic thrash, a cliche sci-fi plot, or any elongated progressive metal solos that would bore a listener. No. Vektor recreates all of that, and blends it all into a chamber pot to create something completely new. Unlike it's predecessor "Black Future", "Outer Isolation" also has slower, more symphonic passages that keep the listener engaged (not to say that "Black Future" wasn't also awesome). The instrumental passage on "Tetrastructural Minds", for example, counter balances the speeding riff monster that is the rest of the song, that keeps things fresh. Another example is the introduction on "Venus Project".
Another great thing about Vektor is DiSantos vocal power. His voice is reminiscent of the late Chuck Schuldiner. However, his blackened death metal vocals make the Vektor an especially unique thrash band. It sets them apart from many other great new wave thrash bands such as Havok, Warbringer, Lich King, and Evile. The eight bone shattering tracks include "Cosmic Cortex", "Echoless Chamber", "Dying World", "Tetrastructural Minds", "Venus Project", "Dark Creations, Dead Creators", "Fast Paced Society", and the stunning title track, which together make a 52 minute masterpiece. The guitar work is great as well. Erik Nelson delivers fast riffs with progressive elements that keep the listener interested, and also manages to display his potential in slower passages. And DiSantos rhythm guitar work is fantastic as well. The two parts weave together like dueling dragons from outer space. They space being the bass parts of Frank Chin, that are like a melodic ocean that the rest of the music swims in. The bass here is essential to the album. And I don't even have to mention the drums. Blake Anderson does an incredible job using technical death blast beats and infusing them with thrash metal. It works. They all break at the right times, they change tempo in sync, it's just beautifully done. The album is honestly perfect. I can't think of anything I would change. The production is also just as it should be; not overproduced, but it's certainly not a black metal demo that some teenager made in a basement. It's a balanced recording that sounds great, but doesn't let go of the human (or in this case alien) element that makes the album relatable. The technical skill of the musicians is also complimented by the intelligent lyrics, that actually included one or two words that I had to look up.
If I could, I'd rate the album higher than 100 because it exceeds all standards and abstractions of what an album is. I look forward to Vektors next album, and everything else that their long career has in store for them.
It would appear I was a little slow on the uptake with the rise of Philadelphia tech-thrashers Vektor; "Outer Isolation" is the second superlative release of theirs, which originally released in 2011 has only recently come to my attention thanks to the tip of a friend and this reissue courtesy of Earache. The 'retro-thrash' scene, which has noticeably (and thankfully) declined in size in recent times, produced a barrage of acts so intent on (r)aping the music and fashion style of their 80s heroes while ignoring any demands for innovation that I can confidently claim Vektor to be hands down the finest band to emerge from under that dubious tag. Infact, even labelling them as such feels an insult to the skill, integrity and drive found in these eight tracks for "Outer Isolation" is more than the end point of a scene focussed on historical revivalism, it could well be the starting point of a new, intensely technical thrash metal evolution worshipping the quality of this band and album.
Ten minute opening tracks aren't the norm in thrash, but "Cosmic Cortex" isn't the norm. Welcome to the futuristic world Vektor project through their imagery and lyrics where off-kilter riffs crash head-on into the strained screeches of David DiSanto and subversive rhythms flow in the blood off all those it inhabits. The atmospheric spacey sounds which herald the opening breed into the clean chords of a single guitar and not before long, jarring fractured riffs of the like rarely heard outside the domains of tech thrash lords Voivod or Coroner. Retro-thrash has uptil now simply been an arms race - he who riffs the fastest wins and all that, but not until now has a band thought to distribute the fast palm-muted riffs between jagged rhythmic guitar and drum passages and mini solos which shout out at the listener like projectiles from a passing space drone. This is bringing the danger and unexpected back into thrash, the way it always was, after a period when it became as predictable as any vacuous chart-dwelling pop act.
"Cosmic Cortex" boasts several interlocking sections where Vektor make great usage of both guitars and bass as they head off separately from one another before all returning to basefor the song's furious chorus. "Echoless Chambers" displays a keen sense for building tension as tempos gently rise and fall in the opening three minutes before a volley of solos, which remind of those in Megadeth's classic "Hangar 18", and some brilliant drumrolls from Blake Anderson deliver the song to greatness. "Tetrastructural Minds" bursts forth from a whiplash-inducing scream from DiSanto into some of the fastest moments on the album; I am struck by the virtuosity of many of the riffs that follow as both the speed and more pronounced bridge section interlock to provide so much in the songs' five minutes. "Venus Project" boasts a middle section that ups the sci-fi quotient, both in tone of the vertiginous solos and the jazzy chill-out we are granted. "Dark Creations, Dead Creators", the shortest and most direct of the eight songs, brings to mind some of the fastest segments of Death Angel's "The Ultra-Violence" (a classic all of it's own); "Fast Paced Society" is not afraid to use the blastbeat in between flashes of neck board dexterity and an intriguing pattern of tempering the frantic procession with chanted dissonant vocals, while the closing title track describes the band in one: deep and considered but with an explosive edge and desire to rip your head off at twenty paces.
As befits all bands at the top of their game best use is made of a production job which allows them to stand out - the bass is plentifully apparent, the drums comfortably real sounding and the vocals a nasally shriek far removed from the standard thrash shout/howl, but it is the sharpened clarity of the guitar tones where the benefits of a band having matured through three demos over a 5 year period really shines through. These have created an already recognisable 'Vektor sound', a vital ingredient in the desire for longevity.
Bold albums demand bold statements. Vektor are the best thrash band out there right now. Take it from me you don't want to miss out any longer.
Originally written for www.Rockfreaks.net
This is my 1st hearing of progressive thrash metal and man does this album feature some amazing guitar work! A lot of the album features heavy, distorted guitar, but also clean bit overtures that accompany it. Probably the best release that I've heard in awhile. While a lot of thrash metal bands are just putting out monotonous material which shows no progression from one album to the next, Vektor packs a punch with their such luminosity to their songwriting.
Lyrical content is sci-fi, but relevant to the music. A lot of the guitar riffs feature high amounts of tremolo picking, some chord progressions and a lot of high quality/well played solos. Amazingly fast, they're played and played with such precision. A highly underrated band that is not too well known yet, but I'm hoping that they will be in the future. This their 2nd album already and they've been around since 2004. Not everyone digs progressive thrash metal, but this band is an exception.
No way can this album put you to sleep because the guitar work is so well played and advanced totally. If you're a guitar player, the riffs are lightning fast to the point to that you have to be pretty advanced playing-wise to be able to replicate the songs. Only 8 tracks on this release, but it's over 51 minutes in length. Definitely a band that's ahead of its time. If you're into metal heavily, don't miss out on this album. I was skeptical upon the 1st few listens as well, but as I heard it more and more, everything fit.
The vocals are a bit raspy, however they do go well with the music. I'm not a huge fan of David DeSanto's screaming, but like I previously said, it fits the music pretty well. They're a 4-piece act for now and a band that really needs to be more well known. Progressive thrash metal I think is a newer genre and Vektor tackles it with such enthusiasm. I'd say that the music is the highlight of the album because there is so much variety in the songwriting plus the lyrics go well with the guitar mastery.
One of the best live bands that I've heard in a while. They definitely need more support from fans. An amazingly talented band and the progressive thrash metal just flows with each song. They do need an official website, not just Facebook, My Space or Twitter. This band is really struggling I think financially, but their current label is Earache. So they must be making some impact on the metal community. I've been trying to spread the word about them and many metalheads need to hear this album!
If you want to hear metal played in an outstanding fashion, pick this up. You won't be disappointed. It may take a few listens to like it did for me, but I think that it's an album that you can't get sick of. I have yet to hear their debut release, but this one got high ratings along with their 1st full-length. Don't buy it from Amazon, maybe go through a metal distribution to pick it up at a way lower price. I definitely was intrigued with the advanced playing and very satisfied to what this album has to offer.
Vektor are one of those bands that have been inspiring excitement since they first began releasing music. With vicious musicianship, complex composition and a futuristic sci-fi theme, Vektor recall the glory days of Voivod. Although I rarely call myself a fan of thrash metal, I fully admit that I jumped on the fan bandwagon shortly after hearing their debut, 'Black Future'. 'Outer Isolation' is now the band's second full-length effort, and here they have emphasized some of the things I liked so much about the original, namely their technicality and progressive approach. Sure enough, Vektor have proven that they aren't simply a one-album wonder anymore.
Voivod, Watchtower, and Coroner are all bands that pop into mind when listening to Vektor. As part of this thrash revival movement that's been going on over the past couple of years, Vektor have chosen to represent the technical end of the genre. Although the music here can be just as fast as your typical Slayer song, there is alot more going on in terms of musicianship. With particular regards to the guitar work, there is an impressive attention to keeping things complex. Best of all, the band sacrifices none of their intensity as a result. What we have ultimately is a band manages to take the thrash aggression and marry it perfectly with progressive ambition.
A staple of Vektor's sound has always been the hear-it-to-believe-it voice of frontman David DiSanto. His vocals usually take one of two forms; either a black metal rasp, or an ear- piercing falsetto. The raspy vocals generally take up most of the time, but it's when DiSanto uses his range where it becomes easy to be impressed. The vocals this time around do not have the same shock value as they did on 'Black Future', and though DiSanto attempts to broaden the scope of his vocals with some half-hearted cleans, part of what made DiSanto's vocals so intense on the debut was that they were fresh. Here, the vocals are still spot-on and impressive, but it's largely the same tricks that were pulled with the debut.
'Outer Isolation's musical complexity and technical approach to thrash metal is a bold and consistently impressive achievement. Although it may not be as instantly exciting as 'Black Future', it's definitely a musical improvement over the predecessor, sharpening their musical skills and upping the techy direction to new extremes. If there are any complaints, it would be that each of the songs sound too much alike; although each is immaculately performed and brilliantly composed, the speed and intensity feels somewhat like deja vu by the time this album is over. Regardless, I think the most important thing here is that Vektor cannot be considered anymore to be a band who put out one great album, but rather an act dedicated to releasing consistently impressive music. Without a doubt, this is one of the greatest thrash albums of the new millennium.
After an already promising first strike, Vektor make another step forward with the release of their second professional full length output.
The band focuses even more on their technical qualities and a strong progressive touch in their music that have some similarities to many famous progressive extreme metal bands such as Absu, Opeth or Voivod. Especially the calm and introspective songs like "Venus Project" create a chilling contrast on this record to the wilder and spacier tracks such as the amazing "Fast Paced Society" or the great album closer and worthy title track "Outer Isolation". The only weaker tracks are in the beginning of the record as they are rather traditional straight forward blackened thrash metal songs that don't exploit the whole talent and creativity of this promising band.
Musically, there are a lot of positive elements to discover on this record. The vocals have improved since the last record and sound more controlled and yet diversified. The singer always convinces when he experiments a little bit with his voice as in the album highlight "Fast Paced Society" that sounds a lot like Voivod. In general, the vocals sound blackened but sometimes also quite spacey and vary from wild and somewhat repetitive shrieks to great and energizing blackened thrash vocals.
The guitars are simply amazing on this album. They deliver us sharp and simple riffs that you won't forget but also quite strange and discordant sounds that fit the lyrical topics in an excellent way. The riffs are always atmospheric and create a lot of images in my mind, especially in the calm or mid-tempo instrumental passages.
The bass guitar is very dominant on the record which is a very positive thing and adds a dark and uneasy feeling to the entire sound complex of the Arizonan band. Even though the bass guitar fits to the drum patterns and the weird guitar riffs, the sound of the instrument is quite distinctive and has an original touch. I would like to listen to more metal bands that use the sound of a bass guitar in such a great way as Vektor know to do.
The drumming is also flawless on this album and varies a lot without using too many blast beats. From pitiless speed rhythms in the thrash passages to tribal sections in some song introductions or the use of cymbals in the calmer and progressive tones and middles parts of the tunes, this record includes a whole variety of different techniques and manages to never get boring on one side but also to not sound too head struck and technical on the other side.
In the end, this is a very solid record from a technical and creative point of view. The only thing that I criticize are the first three songs that can't keep up with the amazing rest and the fact that the band failed to write a catchy killer track that really stands out and might be easier to approach than the rest. This album requests a lot of concentration, patience and time but is worth to be discovered. If the band manages to write a hit and leave out the simple thrash tracks in the beginning of their records, they might soon create a masterpiece and get the attention and feedback they already deserve from the metal scene to play in one league or take the heritage of Absu, Voivod and the other big names.
Bored of all the old-school thrash metal revivalist bands, hearing of Vektor's debut full length album Black Future last year, a charming take on old school thrash metal with a more modern vibe, was definitely welcoming, with that album taking the metal world by storm, and many claiming it to be a masterpiece that the metal world has been waiting for. This year sees the band releasing their long-awaited follow-up album, Outer Isolation, and it definitely leaves one to wonder if the band is able to meet the high expectations that are placed upon them.
Album opener Cosmic Cortex puts the listener in the right setting, bringing the listener to a futuristic setting as a clean guitar line intro comes in, uncharacteristic of the band's style as presented on Black Future, but nevertheless ensures that listeners are kept interested in what the band has put in place. As the rest of the instruments enter, the improved and fuller production quality in the music becomes immediately apparent, and this is a nice touch to the music of Vektor and brings out the essence of the music more fully than before. The introductory track already gives listeners what to expect for the rest of the album to come, with the odd time signatures that the band loves playing at, and the technical display on the individual instruments promising a fun ride for technical metal junkies. It does not take long before vocalist David comes in, and his screechy style of vocals is immediately recognisable, providing a different sound to the band compared to other thrash metal bands.
Each and every instrument present on the album deserves a good listen to, considering the amount of effort and thought that has seemingly been placed on every note by guitarists David and Erik, bassist Frank and every hit on the drums by Blake. Drummer Blake especially caught my attention, with his effortless transition between drumming styles, from a simple beat to a sudden blast-beat section to a simple beat again on tracks like Cosmic Cortex, and also through the complex foot work despite the seemingly simple beats on his arms. Guitarists David and Erik also constantly litter the music with lots of lead guitar lines, and unlike many who overdo this, the band puts in just the right amount, ensuring that not a single moment is left over-saturated with ideas, choosing instead to spread these out over the whole course of the albums, serving listeners their ingenuity in bite-sized chunks. The fact that for the most part of the album, the two guitars are doing different stuff also keeps things interesting, making them stand out from their numerous other thrash metal counterparts. The guitarists also display their versatility, playing in a whole range of different musical styles, and this can be seen on songs like Tetrastructural Minds, probably one of the most melodic songs that the band has written thus far.
One thing that is noted here right from album opener Cosmic Cortex is that the band, on this record, has chosen to slow down slightly, compared to the urgency that is present on their debut, Black Future. Songs like Echoless Chamber even sees the track travelling at a mid-pace tempo for at least half the song before picking up to their usual speed, showing that the band is more than just speed and wankery. While the slowdown in their speed certainly put me off slightly, the album began to get more enjoyable as it progressed, picking up speed as it went along to satisfy the demands fans of the band's older material, with songs like Tetrastructural Minds sounding like it could come off Black Future. Of course, having these slower moments and progressive moments does not mean that the band has forsaken their original thrash metal roots, as references from various thrash metal acts can be found throughout the album, managing to capture the attention of and satisfy old school thrash fans as well.
With Outer Isolation, Vektor has perfected the art that they have crafted with their debut album, Black Future, and watching the band progress and transform (slightly) has definitely been a satisfying experience, and definitely leaves one craving for more even after numerous listens on loop.
I think it's fair to say, 'Outer Isolation' is one of, if not the best, thrash album of 2011. Joining the likes of Megadeth, Anthrax, Onslaught and Toxic Holocaust, are Arizona's Vektor.
Vektor's latest release, 'Black Future', created quite a stir in the metal world. With such an amazing combination of black metal and thrash metal, it had a lot of spacey themes which is all backed up with a lot of technical prowess. Definitely not an easy album to follow-up on, and Vektor had a lot of work to do if they did not want to sound tasteless and stale on this new album.
'Outer Isolation' contains some very noticeable changes. In brief, Vektor have created a typically classic thrash metal album, without repeating themselves all too much. This album defines Vektor's style as a melodic, dynamic, very focused and straight forward brand of thrash metal. One of the issues with 'Black Future', is that it did not contain much variety between songs. Fortunately, such issues do not appear on this album.
What makes this album different from previous releases, is the increase of slower and melodic passages. These parts defnitely show more focus, and sound like they have more purpose in the songs, and make for a much more interesting listen. The softer parts sometimes steal the show, however, with the intro to opening track, 'Cosmic Cortex' lasting for almost three minutes, but these moments are mostly shortlived and cut back to the fast, pounding riffs.
One of the album's highlights, 'Tetrastructural Minds', contains one of the best melodic pieces on the album. The song seems to be going at the speed of light, and then goes slow motion, with a destructively-beautiful melodic guitar solo. Even the faster leads on this song are sounding more melodic. On 'Outer Isolation', Vektor have masterfully worked leads into their verses and choruses, making the songs a lot more tight. 'Outer Isolation' is definitely not the heaviest album this band have ever released, but is one of the more skilled, technical and varied records Vektor have put out.
David Disanto has one of the more unique vocals in metal. His voice in like a black metal-wretch, but is a lot more higher pitched, and his voice definitely sounds more raspy this time around. The crazy, high-pitched screams that you could only sometimes hear on 'Black Future', are very pre-dominant on 'Outer Isolation'. Especially on the track 'Tetrastructural Minds', where Disanto performs screams that seem impossible for any person to emit, let alone from a mature gentleman. Disanto is also very varied in his vocal approach as well, he can be very narrative, and incorporates a few more lower growls into some songs.
Somtimes, the material on 'Outer Isolation' can sound very similar to 'Black Future', but that is a very small complaint, and does not ruin this album's chance of being thrash album of the year. Vektor are one of the best underrated bands in metal, and if they could get the recognition they deserve, they could be cited as one of the best and heaviest bands in modern rock music.
Having conquered the modern US thrash scene within the span of a single album, Vektor have built tremendous expectations for its follow-up that they have more or less met with Outer Isolation. I'm not going to come out and say that this is a better album than Black Future, because there are a few tracks in which my attention seems to disappear more readily than others. But it's damned well rounded, tightly sprung, flawlessly executed progressive death/thrash which holds the riff on high about everything else. Edge and elegance are wrought from the band's science fiction extrapolations, and once again they have successfully meshed the vision of Voivod, the stern and vicious vocal energy of the Teuton gods Destruction, and the hyperactive pulse of Florida's death/thrash pioneers Atheist and Hellwitch into a pulse pounding fusion.
It doesn't start out on its best footing, but the creative ledge is wide enough that "Cosmic Cortex" never comes close to plummeting over the side. Eerie, clean guitars are matched with sprinkles of ambient feedback as they erupt into a shifting haze of Voivod-like dissonance and pure force via classic Destruction, with some thrifty melodic tremolo bursts. This is a better thrash song than most other bands will release this year, and yet it's nowhere near a highlight of the album. I was actually surprised at just how much I loved the new renditions of their earlier tracks from the Demolition demo. "Tetrastructural Minds" sounds 100% improved, with rabid spasms of bass, alien cleans, and inspiring, melodic spikes that show the Arizonian's mastery of complex, compositional considerations. The once latent beauty of "Venus Project" is also brought to the fore here, with its amazing, plucky intro evoking the perfect inauguration to the slicing rhythms inherent to the verse, and those wild descending dual-melodies in the bridges. "Fast Paced Society" is also dragged out of the dust, though I didn't like the song quite as much as its peers.
Highlights of the newer crafted material include "Dying World" with its bass-driven, almost space surf-worthy intro, extraterrestrial melodies interspersed with angry, mid-paced thrash chugging and vocals that feel like Schmier if he'd been placed in solitary confinement for a few months. I love the way the riffs shift at the 2 minute mark, so groovy and almost industrial in their precision. "Dark Creations, Dead Creators" also achieves much in its briefer, 3:25 run, from a moody intro to a number of biting riffs as it gradually accelerates. It would also be remiss not to mention just how good the closing title track is. Granted, it's not as 'epic' or stretched out as the 10+ minute opener "Cosmic Cortex", but "Outer Isolation" really develops that feeling of being lost in some unfathomable void, first with the slow accumulation of its saturated, almost folksy electrics, and then a twisting vortex of riffing that recalls all of the progressive German thrash masters like Paradox, Deathrow and Vendetta. Fucking marvelous.
Vektor might have lost its element of surprise here, after spinning the world around with their proper debut Black Future, and I don't really think Outer Isolation progresses that album's formula in any heavily noticeable way. This is more a stride in production, since I felt that the guitars were thicker and even more punchy than before, and the vocals even more effective if they're mildly less dramatic. To an extent, this album 'plays it safe' with the prior's formula, but only as safe as manic space-thrash could ever be. That said, Vektor once again deserves the accolades it reaps due to the fact that they take this music so seriously. That they do such a knock out job in both writing and production, and that they don't treat thrash with the same abusive, derivative lack of grasp that so many of their peers do. Sure, you can trace this band's roots to a number of others, but how they merge them is indisputably unique.
Thrash and death metal have always been enormous inspirations for me personally, and I make no jest that the former is probably my favorite of metal's sub-genres. So it's a distinct honor to have a band like Vektor taking the music forward without taking the piss, and Outer Isolation, even if it's not perfect, is another formidable exhibition of intelligent craftsmanship and unbridled energy which will sate expectations and attention spans time and time again.