Vektor - Outer IsolationAs I mentioned in a previous review, I like to think I value originality in music. I have little patience for bands that are merely retreads or knockoffs of other groups. So you can imagine my reaction when, a couple years ago, I stumbled on Black Future, the debut album from Arizona thrashers Vektor. The cover of that album looked like this. For those of you unaware, there is a band called Voivod. They have a logo that looks like this. “What in unholy fuck was going on here,” I thought? Is this some sort of joke? Is Vektor to Voivod what Municipal Waste is to D.R.I.? What possible motivation could a band have to do that? And more importantly, is it any good? Two years later, curiosity finally got the better of me, and I decided to check out Vektor’s newly-released follow up, Outer Isolation.

Yes, Vektor’s main reference point is Voivod, particularly their Killing Technology era. The outer-space themes, the dissonant guitar work, it’s all in there. Big surprise. But on Outer Isolation, the band manages to offset their massive debt to those Canadian legends by taking a more technical approach musically.

The opening track “Cosmic Cortex” is a 10-minute monster, laying out the foundation of the Vektor sound as it unfolds. A spaced out intro leads into twisted guitar riffing, blastbeats, and shrieking vocals over the course of this beast. Guitarists David DiSanto and Erik Nelson demonstrate considerable technical chops, owing more to Athiest or even Watchtower than to Piggy and co. Bassist Frank Chin also impresses, laying an audible foundation while also playing fast enough to keep up with Nelson and DiSanto. As the album goes on, it becomes less about individual songs than the record as a whole (again, kinda like Killing Technology). There are still plenty of standout moments, though. “Dark Creations, Dead Creators” makes use of some crafty dual-guitar harmonies, and “Fast Paced Society” is just as speedy as the title implies. I should also add that the track “Tetrastructural Minds” contains my favorite single riff of 2011 (44 seconds in). I defy you not to headbang to it.

Vektor 2011While his guitar chops are unquestionable, DiSanto has caught some shit from metal journalists concerning his vocal technique. For the most part, he utilizes a perfectly functional black metal-esque rasp. However, he also has a high-pitched shriek that he puts to use pretty liberally. Think old-school Tom Araya (and even Tom had the sense to give it a rest after about 1986). If you’re into that sort of thing, great. If not, consider yourself warned. Personally, I found the album to be so focused on the guitar work that stuff going on in the vocal department didn’t bother me much. And yes, that’s a good thing.

Generally speaking, the record is intense as hell, extremely technical at times, and almost impossibly fast. At 51 minutes long, the overall effect is almost dizzying (in a good way). This album is packed tight with great riffs and memorable parts, to a degree that it’s hard to take in all at once, but repeat listens are rewarded as more cool details make themselves known.

Outer Isolation represents Vektor coming into their own, positioning themselves miles ahead of the retro-thrash pack and even creating some distance between themselves and the band they’re obviously modeled after. Given Vektor’s obvious skill level, it’s entirely possible that they will eventually bring something new to the thrash game, much like what Revocation has been working towards. In the meantime, they’ve created a thoroughly enjoyable thrash/tech/speed beast of an album. They might want to look into a new logo thought.

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  • So glad you got to this – this album’s a grower – took about 3 listens before it clicked, but now I love it.

  • This is the first review I’ve read that mentions the Voivod influence. Surprising, because it is so obvious IMO. Still, a killer album.

    Outer Isolation is available on the Heavy Artillery Bandcamp, which I added to the Metal Bandcamp blog here 
    http://metalbandcamp.com/2011/12/vektor-outer-isolation-heavy-artillery.html

    • Mark Sugar

      How is it even possible that no other reviewers brought up the Voivod thing?!

      • Dunno, I may have read the wrong reviews :) I was wrong though, the Metal Review one does mention Voivod offhandedly, the No Clean Singing one doesn’t. 

    • Above url no longer works, because the album is now available on the Earache Records Bandcamp http://metalbandcamp.com/2013/01/vektor-outer-isolation.html

  • Zachary Plauche

    This album changed my opinion of thrash, in a good way.

  • Hey, just noticed the blogroll add. Thanks a lot :)

    • Yeah, now you don’t need to post links everywhere. ;) Haha.

      • I’m only spreading some Bandcamp love :)

        • Code for: SPAM!

          :P

          • Are you serious? Do you think adding Bandcamp links to music mentioned in reviews/articles (either by linking to my blog or directly to Bandcamp) is spam?

          • Technically, no. Though it could be seen that way since you’re actually sending it to your blog instead of to Bandcamp. If it wasn’t for the fact that you were linking to music (a lot of people try to link to their opinion pieces and I don’t generally allow that, ’cause that’s just self serving), I would say it *was* spam. 

            Anyway, I think what you’re doing is cool, so don’t take it personally. 

          • Thanks for clarifying, I don’t want to piss on anybody’s lawn.

            As an aside, there is a way to stop my incessant commenting: Just add the Bandcamp links yourself :)

          • That sounds like a lot of work!

          • And that is why I do it for you, don’t want an overworked Steel Druhm.

          • Good man!

  • Yup. These guys are awesome.

  • Awesome album!!! I personally think black futures is better but both are insane!!!!

  • This album is the most original and refreshing thrash I have heard in a coons age.   The vocals are incredible.  Black Future didn’t catch me, but this sure did.

  • Just out of curiosity, why does AMG have a policy of not scoring the ‘things you might have missed’ albums? I know you shouldn’t put too much stock in a number, but it helps to summarise :)

    • The Things You Might Have Missed feature is meant to draw attention to albums we didn’t review in a timely fashion but ended up liking a lot. We don’t score them because we missed the boat on an actual review. However, we only mention bands we actually like so its safe to assume we would have scored it at least 3.5 or higher.

  • Torbjörn Tapani

    Easily a top ten of 2011.

  • Just saw these guys live last night and they killed it. Even in a shitty garage venue, they were really tight and sounded great.