While thrash enjoyed something of a mainstream resurgence in the last few years, one band became a buzzword among underground thrash fans and yet haven’t received the attention of their less forward thinking peers. Crossover and Exodus baiting are all well and good, but why not push the boat out a little. Thirteen minute progressive sci-fi thrash metal odysseys? Ladies and gentlemen, and the uninitiated, welcome to Vektor, an outfit mixing old-school values with the lyrical vision of Voivod and classic science-fiction. Their debut ‘Black Future‘ is seen a something of a rare undiscovered diamond, so standout it was from other releases of the time, but chances are you probably haven’t heard of it as they didn’t get swept up in the first instance.
The surprise factor may have disappeared for the initiated, but Vektor still have plenty to offer the unsuspecting potential fan, and ‘Outer Isolation‘ delivers that in spades. The riffs churn and probe more than ever, and are incredibly distinct and memorable, an ace in the deck for any would-be standout thrash band in 2011. The ten-minute, multi-limbed ‘Cosmic Cortex’ is a swirling vortex of riffs, soloing and blackened blasts and screams spewing forth from the Arizonans. There’s so many awesome riffs in there, blackened or not, as sums up Vektor in a nutshell pretty well. Unlike ‘Black Future‘, where they broke the 10-minute barrier on more than one occasion, there are no further forays of such duration on ‘Outer Isolation‘, yet this doesn’t shackle Vektor one bit, often displaying several memorable moments per track A sickening turn of pace halfway through ‘Echoless Chamber’ is one such example, adhering to old-school thrills, and the riff that appears near the beginning and end of ‘Venus Project’ is so different and intense it almost channels an unearthly threat. Vektor always recognised the need to input a melody when necessary, the surf-esque lick in ‘Tetrastructural Minds’ being a highlight, as is the mid-section of the title track. I could go on about these key points within tracks, but they’re too numerous to mention them all, and they wouldn’t be so important were the bits inbetween them so damn incredible.
The eight tracks here further emphasise Vektor’s portrayal of the future as bleak, barren and destined to become hostile. Frontman David DiSanto has a voice perfect for this material – his scowl has a quality that seems almost alien in its delivery, adding to the authenticity of the lyrical themes. His screams (such as those on ‘Fast Paced Society’) make it seem as though extraterrestrial beings are conducting experiments on him as he lies awake, with lead guitarist Erik Nelson hellbent on getting every skronk, solo and squeal out of his guitar in another impressive lead performance.
Put simply, Vektor have proved themselves not to be one trick ponies, although the constant fast pace could do with being reined in a little more in future. That’s just a minor quibble – Vektor may wind up being a distant star, one admired by few from afar and not being fully appreciated for their majesty. Justice decrees their bionic thrash should be worthy of gracing more lost souls in need of an original metal fix. ‘Outer Isolation‘ is an impressive roadmap for a dystopian metal prognosis, and if Vektor were to be at the helm of that potential future, I’d honestly lend myself to their vision.