“Do you want to hear the new record dude?” I take a breath – a little bit stunned. Vektor are about to play me the final mix of their hotly anticipated upcoming record, Terminal Redux due to drop in late February. Vocalist and rhythm guitarist Dave Disanto passes me a beer, lead stringsmith Erik Nelson presses play and we’re off. While this article isn’t meant to function as a review of the album – I will say this, it’s damn good and a logical next step for one of the most exciting bands in the thrash scene today. Currently on tour with Voivod and Eight Bells the space thrashers are having the time of their lives conquering the East Coast with blood thirsty aplomb.
One thing that struck me about listening to the record with the band was not only that it was excellent – but also the enthusiasm that the band members showed. Blake Anderson air drummed his way through his parts, Erik enthusiastically played air guitar for his flashiest solos – an aspect of the music he’s almost entirely taken control of on this release since, as Dave put it, “I’m tired of singing and soloing” Meanwhile Frank Chin isn’t afraid to occasionally pipe in and sing one of his bass lines. It’s been five years since their last album, the almighty Outer Isolation a record that still sounds ahead of its time. Despite this, and despite the continued popularity of the band in this recording hiatus a lot of punters forgot exactly why we all fell so deeply in love with this group in the first place. Vektor knew that they needed an absolute beast of an album if they wanted to come back and triumph – and now they have.
Simply put – Vektor are a band who are not to be messed with. Their sound is totally unique, their approach surprisingly accessible, their potential limitless and they know it. Of course, they’re humble about it but when hanging out with them you do get a sense of understated confidence from the band. This whole ‘being a space thrash band’ thing has worked out on two previous albums and seen them go all around the world, it seems that the next record is only going to add to the legacy and help to make things even more exciting. Beyond that – I think it’s hard to ignore the compositional achievement that Terminal Redux represents – a concept record through and through this is a proggy masterpiece that you can’t help but admire – taking the hyper speed genius hinted at on previous records to a whole new level.
Somewhere on the New Jersey Turnpike on a long ride to Philadelphia Dave decided to start explaining the concept behind Terminal Redux – and while I’m not too keen to share the details, I can say this – the fusion found between the music and the concept is stunning. The steps forward taken by Vektor on this record speaks to something much larger. The album reflects on a sort of inner suffering whilst simultaneously addressing larger concepts that are relevant to the entire human condition. For a long time Vektor was just ‘that wacky thrash band who sing about space’ to so many people – but now they have transcended previous limitations and started to become lords of a genre they have started to craft in their own image.
Few bands these days have managed to cultivate an aesthetic and a sound as unique as Vektors – and there are fewer still who actually manage to fit this into the mold of older music and be as accessible as Vektor somehow manage to be. This is a band who worship Voivod, and then managed to push that unique sound so much further and make it wholly their own. Despite their self proclaimed weirdness they still fit in the thrash polemic. Even their lifestyles reflect the dream crafted by bands like Nuclear Assault and DRI. For example, Dave was recently arrested for throwing a beer at a Christian protester, and the band espouses a love of alcohol matched only by the old thrash lords. While many might associate Vektor with Voivod (And Vektor certainly love the comparison) it almost feels like Vektor have the potential to become something much larger – even if they are eviller, faster and more technical.
Despite the sheer agony of the music industry in the modern age – Vektor seem to take it all with a smile. Dave sports a tattoo stating the bands motto, ‘Sci-Fi or Die’ and Blake has a fondness for staring intently at random audience members. The dudes embrace tour life – every stop sees them hugging old friends and making new ones. When I first met the band I was just a teenager and was regularly impressed by their groupie stories, and insane live performances. Like I said, this is a band who fulfill the promise of thrash on every level. They love to trade old war stories, especially with their heroes in Voivod and eagerly embrace every new challenge. Sure – the dudes are starting to grow up, hell, Eric is having a kid later this year, but one gets the impression that even that won’t stop these avant garde thrashers.
That’s not what really makes Vektor special though. They aren’t just a band who are playing thrash metal and doing it in an exciting new way – no – this is a band who are pushing the limits of a genre that many thought as played out. When the whole ‘rethrash’ movement happened thousands claimed that the genre was done and labeled it derivative. They said that thrash had become silly and that it was for all intents and purposes dead. Then Vektor came along and changed the game decisively in a way that none of their peers could ever emulate. I write this a few hours before they go on at Underground Arts – an appropriately grim venue in South Philly – and wonder what will happen next. Soon fans will be queuing up outside and getting ready to go crazy for the music they love, but for now all we can do is wait, and embrace our own outer isolation.