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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.