Vektor – Terminal Redux

If you’ve been following the metal scene at all over the last few years then it’s hard not to be even peripherally aware of Vektor. Their story began back in 2009 with Black Future, which despite its Voivodian aesthetics was much more than an exercise in artful plagiarism – where Voivod’s underpinning is squarely in punk, Vektor’s sound moves past the prototypical progressive thrash metal formula by infusing it with elements of both black and death, resulting in a much more aggressive tone than their Canadian muse. Two years later, they reaffirmed their position as one of the most exciting bands in the thrash metal world with Outer Isolation, which garnered world-wide critical acclaim and helped broaden the band’s appeal. So in many respects, their recently released third record, Terminal Redux, is now a coming of age record, showcasing a band reveling in the sound that they themselves pioneered.

Truth be told, it’s really hard to pin down exactly why Vektor’s unique brand of “sci-fi” thrash is so riveting. Maybe it’s because David DiSanto and Co. always sound as if they are on the creative brink, constantly barraging you with a slew of batshit crazy riffs and oddball time signatures that are nigh impossible to fully absorb on first listen. Or maybe it’s because in the midst of that aforementioned aural chaos, they can, at the drop of a riff, instantly reel you back in, making it sound like all that thrash bred dysphoria was all part of the plan in the first place. Or maybe it’s just the sheer technical wizardry of their playing, making other thrash bands sound like mere simpletons. Or maybe its some combination of all of the above. Regardless, Redux represents the state of the art in modern thrash and redefines what the genre can and should sound like.

However, if there is one legitimate criticism to be made about Redux, it would be its girth. With a running time of seventy minutes plus, this record is not for the faint of heart, and despite the meticulous care each of these tracks have been laid out, it can be downright difficult to digest them all in one sitting. It took yours truly several listens to even get my ears around the contours of some of them, which I can imagine for the every day Bay Area thrasher could come off as somewhat frustrating. Put simply, this is a record that requires your full, undivided attention if you want to reap all of its sonic rewards. Tracks are packed with an enormous amount of melodic and rhythmic depth, which can take several careful examinations to fully comprehend. Caveat emptor.

Like its predecessors before it, Terminal Redux was both mixed and mastered by Byron Filson of Villain Recordings and clocks in at DR6. Yet despite the relatively mediocre score, Redux is still the most dynamic Vektor record to date, even if marginally so. Production wise it sounds more akin to Black Future than Outer Isolation, which had a lot of fidelity issues across the board especially in its lackluster treble. Drums though are still somewhat problematic, and are often overpowered by the guitars and DiSanto’s signature screeches. Take for instance the multi-blast beast attacks on opener “Charging the Void.” Despite the frantic pace in which they are all belted out, they are for the most part buried in the mix, and as such lack muster. Luckily the record’s bottom end fairs a lot better, with Chin’s bass on full display throughout. Hopefully though since Redux was released officially on Earache, a FDR version will eventually emerge.

Terminal Redux is not only one of the best thrash metal records I’ve heard in a long time, but I sincerely doubt I will hear anything even remotely like it for years to come. I think it’s also safe to say now that Vektor‘s future is anything but black.

Dynamic Range