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Black to the Future - 88%

Tanuki, March 27th, 2017
Written based on this version: 2013, CD, Earache Records (Reissue)

I have trekked far across the infinite cosmos of sci-fi thrash, having seen more uses of the word 'void' than a Microsoft contract, and even more thrash bands that have grabbed hold of Vektor's coattails like they're the one waitress in a country club full of lecherous assholes. Now, I don't mean to criticize the admirable efforts of bands like Vexovoid, Sculptor Void, or Zero Void, but right now I'd rather take the time to analyze what made Vektor's 2009 debut Black Future so inspiring in the first place.

In the late 00's, the NWOTM scene was already over-saturated with retro posturing, but there weren't many acts with the cojones to hearken back to the maverick times of 90's technical thrash. This was an offshoot defined by warping tempos and time signatures, eccentric vocalists, sporadic clean sections, and all sorts of other things that were difficult to emulate convincingly. Think about it; would you rather write fast, monotone riffs and scream about how warm your beer is, or write crazy arpeggios and scream about how wide your syzygy is? It turns out Vektor opted for the latter, and crafted intricate thrash epics with a unique sound and a psychotic attention to detail. They took a gamble, and they hit the jackpot.

Tracks like 'Dark Nebula' and 'Forests of Legend' are marathon runners, imposing in their length but expertly paced so they never lag behind. Not a single passage sounds repetitive or aimless, with the atmospheric, synth-heavy sections of the latter feeling weighty and drenched in cryptic emotion. Strictly regimented song structures ensure riffs never overstay their welcome, with bridges and hooks on constant alert to keep compositions feeling fresh and flexible. The eccentric, bass-cadenced refrain of 'Hunger for Violence' is one of the countless examples of this.

Mentioning David DiSanto's avian-like shrieks is as inevitable as the cheap anatomical joke that usually accompanies them. In case you weren't aware, DiSanto sounds as if something is adversely affecting his testes during the delivery of his piercing screams. Maybe its icy water, a car door, or a high-heeled boot if you're feeling frisky. I recall many people were derisive about the extreme falsetto at first, but I say with the smuggest grin that I was not one of them. A vocalist must mirror the eccentricity of his riffs and drumlines; rule number one of technical thrash, people. Had DiSanto delivered a dolorous, dime-a-dozen dog-bark like so many other modern thrash bands, I don't think Black Future would have sounded half as unique. 'Asteroid' is proof of this, as his delivery oscillates between his trademark banshee shriek and generic growls, as if he too was unsure of his vocals at first.

It's fair to say both he and the rest of the band would become very "sure of themselves" during subsequent albums, and you can interpret that any way you wish. Although just as prodigious, the intensified theatrics and the even greater emphasis on extravagant bizarreness of Outer Isolation and Terminal Redux would prove polarizing, to say the least. I feel many thrash purists lost some of their enthusiasm for Vektor soon after their subsequent albums. Or maybe that's just me projecting. It's probably that one.