VEKTOR – Terminal Redux

~ 2016 (Earache Records) – Stil: Prog Thrash ~

Whenever I see a „Best Metal album of 2016“-list I stumble upon the album ´Terminal Redux´ of the american Trash Metal-band VEKTOR. This happens so often, that I felt motivated to check myself, what’s the secret behind this work.

VEKTOR exists since 2002 and is signed to Earache Records, a label known for Extreme Metal. They are labelled as Trash Metal with Influences from Progressive Rock. ´Terminal redux´ was published in May 2016 and hit the Metal-scene like a bomb. The album received euphoric reviews (look here). In December 2016 the band split with just the main songwriter David Disanto remaining, so the future of VEKTOR is dark, though Disanto stated, that VEKTOR will go on.

In many articles the music of VEKTOR is compared to VOIVOD, an experimental Metal-band from Canada with a long history and a preference for science fiction-themes. And also VEKTOR’s ´Terminal Redux´ is a concept-album about a science-fiction story: An Astronaut discovers a molecule, which gives him immortality. He was sent into exile because of some faults in the past, but with his valuable find the astronaut can go back to his society and go up through the ranks, because he uses his discovery for his own advantage. So we get a very ambitious story here.

But whats about the music? Well, while listening to the first song ´Charging The Void´ my jaw dropped down several times. If you play guitar, bass, drums yourself or understand something about band-interaction you must be impressed. These guys are the technical peak within the actual Metal-scene and you know, that Metal is already a very technical genre. I appreciate also, that these highly talented shredders always serving the music and not get lost in isolated ego-trips. No unnecessary guitar-solos, no drum show-offs, just unbelievable disciplined ensemble-work. If you are listening to the whole album the overall atmosphere is kinda restless. There are not many parts, where the high tempo is slowed down and the ears can rest except the nice interlude ´Mountains Above The Sun´ and the two last tracks ´Collapse´ and ´Recharging The Void´, which are more varied and surprise with changing moods and melodic parts.

Overall the songs are focused on the vocals and the story and here I have to tell you the first bad message: The vocals are not as strong as the instrumental work. Disanto’s voice can not deliver many colors and growls and spits the words out like an angry animal. The timbre of his voice reminds me on the late Chuck Schuldiner, think on ´The Sound Of Perseverance´ as a reference. But Schuldiner’s voice wins regarding variety, expression and articulation. If you are interested in VEKTOR because they are tagged with ´Progressive Rock´ besides ´Trash Metal´ you have to deal with the fact, that Disanto’s voice even more unmelodic than most singers in Trash Metal. His vocal-style would fit to Death or better Black Metal. In the last track ´Recharging The Void´ Disanto can show, that he is also capable of singing clear and in my opinion the album had benefit, if he had used his clean voice more. The section in ´Recharging The Void´ with its additional use of a female guest-singer during the middle section is a highlight of the album and a welcome rest after all these riff-infernos. I suspect, that the band was inspired by PINK FLOYD’s ´The Great Gig In The Sky´ from ´Dark Side Of The Moon´.

The majority of songs on ´Terminal Redux´ are fast, restless Riff-Monsters. If you listen to the whole album you will probably feel exhausted, because VEKTOR seldomly lower the intensity and while speed and intensity can function for shorter songs they can become tiring in longer songs and most songs are above six minutes here. I also think, that not all songs can keep the level of ´Charging The Void´ and ´Recharging The Void´. ´Cygnus Terminal´ and ´LCD´ can not compete with the first track, but from ´Ptereopticon´ the album gets stronger towards the end. ´Pillars Of Sand´ is one of the most melodic songs. Not because the vocals are more melodic, but because of some fine reminiscences on classical music in the guitar-lines. ´Collapse´ surprises with clear vocals and we learn, that VEKTOR could also be a strong competitor on the Progressive Rock market. After the melodic beginning of ´Collapse´ Disanto comes back to his raspy style somewhere in the middle and the band goes step by step from warm clean sounds to full power. They create a strong climax here, which is more powerful and striking, than other songs on the album, which just show them at full power. The harmonised guitars let me think on IRON MAIDEN sometimes.

Coming back to the VOIVOD-comparison I argue, that VEKTOR and VOIVOD have just the love for science fiction and the similar Logos in common (Okay, their names start both with V, and consist of the same number of letters). In my opinion VEKTOR are much closer to technical or progressive Death Metal than to Trash and maybe the inheritors of the late Death. The vocals and the way the riffs are constructed point in this direction.

But all in all it’s still one of the most interesting and strongest Metal-albums of the last year. For a masterpiece I would recommend more musical variations and more time for dramatic developments instead of sheer fury, especially for an epic concept-album. In my opinion VEKTOR have the potential to deliver a stronger work than ´Terminal Redux´, therefore I save a higher rating for their next album.

(8 out of 10)


Author Dirk Radloff is a musician, a german songwriter, arranger founder of progressive rock project HEARTSCORE.
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