(Copyright © 2012 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of Use )

Demolition (2006), 5/10
Black Future (2009), 7.5/10
Outer Isolation (2011), 6.5/10
Terminal Redux (2016), 7/10

(Clicka qui per la versione Italiana)

Thrash-metal, thanks to Metallica, Anthrax, Slayer and Megadeth, was one of the leading genres of the 1980s.

Between 2007 and 2009 a number of heavy-metal bands rediscovered thrash-metal of the 1980s. Notable albums of this thrash revival were: Hyades' And the Worst Is Yet to Come (2007), Lazarus A.D.'s The Onslaught (2007), Dekapitator's The Storm Before the Calm (2007), Evile's Enter the Grave (2007), Gama Bomb's Citizen Brain (2008), Hatchet's Awaiting Evil (2008), Avenger of Blood's Death Brigade (2008), Bonded by Blood's Feed the Beast (2008), perhaps the most famous, Hexen's State of Insurgency (2008), Hospital of Death's Beer, Bitches, Blood (2008), Warpath's Damnation (2008), and Savage Messiah's Insurrection Rising (2009).

The best one was Philadelphia's Vektor, that, after the trivial and amateurish Demolition (2006), delivered the sci-fi themed Black Future (Heavy Artillery, 2009). Opener Black Future is typical of their prog-pop-thrash fusion but, by comparison with what happens next, this is a childish song. The insane acceleration Oblivion is a better introduction to their style. So is the militaristic charge of Destroying the Cosmos, which then becomes a display of Blake Anderson's manic drumming leading to a sensational exhilarating finale. The evil, vomiting and martial Asteroid is, in a sense, atypical because it relies too much on shock effect. The album's towering compositions are the three lengthy pieces. The ten-minute Forests of Legend is the most melodic, opening with a gentle melodic neoclassical tune that returns after the black-metal gallop. The ten-minute Dark Nebula, a peak of sci-fi cinematic overtones, boasts a magniloquent break that segues into a grotesque dance that yields a very catchy refrain. The 13-minute juggernaut Accelerating Universe stages an infernal crescendo arond a demonic guitar refrain. Five minutes from the end it decays into a gentle instrumental break. Then an acceleration restores its grim outlook and the singer shrieks out of his mind. Another acceleration rips the song apart and the singer intones an anthemic refrain. Throughout the album David DiSanto shifts from a guttural roar to a psychotic shriek and back, greatly contributing to the narrative quality of the music.

That album created the archetype of a music that is complex like prog-metal and fast like thrash-metal but also melodic like pop-metal. Outer Isolation (Heavy Artillery, 2011) lived up to that standard only occasionally. The progressive suite Cosmic Cortex boasts plenty of complexity but neither enough blood nor enough tenderness. The eight-minute Outer Isolation, almost as long, is even more confused. The breathtaking gallop of the brief Echoless Chamber packs more power than both combined. The songs seem to be mainly displays of instrumental prowess, for example Tetrastructural Minds and especially the brief Dark Creations Dead Creators, but this can get monotonous even if the intent is to change the music every ten seconds (see the madcap development of Venus Project). Too often there isn't enough cohesion to turn the (brainy) sound into (emotional) music. The shrieking is particularly agonizing at the end of Dying World but generally it runs after the frenzy of the instruments. The exception comes at the end. All the elements come together in the supersonic Fast Paced Society, which is both breathtakingly technical and captivatingly cinematic.

After a five-year hiatus, the space opera Terminal Redux (Earache, 2016) continued in that direction of extremely sophisticated extremely hysterical metal, but stretched the songs in much more ambitious manners (six songs last longer than seven minutes). The nine-minute Charging The Void that opens the album is enough to exhaust even the most devout fan, featuring everything from a telluric instrumental intermezzos to even a pop refrain.
If one views the labyrinthine eight-minute Cygnus Terminal from the point of music organization, the similarities with Broadway musicals become obvious: the piece tells a story via a number of variations, each of which is partially a singalong, except that it is shouted so hysterically and bombarded by the instruments in such relentless manner elicit adrenaline instead of empathy.
The album is less impressive in the middle section, from LCD Liquid Crystal Disease to Pillars Of Sand, despite the demented (and relatively melodic) fury of Ultimate Artificer and the obsessive pummeling of Pillars Of Sand. The nine-minute prog-ballad (with "clean" vocals) Collapse is completely out of context.
The 13-minute Recharging The Void restores the manically intense atmosphere, and, in fact, it resumes the onslaught and drops as well some of the most memorable guitar solos. Its key narrative point is the pause in which mermaids duet with DiSanto who sings in a clean register a melody that could be lifted from a latter-day Pink Floyd album. Then he screams like a madman and the band launches into the last four minutes of mayhem, culminating in a choral rant.
The songs are peppered with all sorts of instrumental twists and turns. Nonetheless, they sound fluid and organic. It's a miracle how intricate composition, acrobatic musicianship, granitic fury, explosive intensity, blazing guitar riffs, and soulful melodies (despite the rasp register) form such a beneficial symbiosis.

By the end of the year, guitarist Erik Nelson, bassist Frank Chin and drummer Blake Anderson had left Vektor, closing a glorious chapter in the history of thrash-metal.

(Copyright © 2016 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )