Vektor | ‘Outer Isolation’
Vektor’s debut, the superb ‘Black Future’, fairly teleported the Arizona band from obscurity to the very forefront of the US thrash mob.
Here at last was a hungry young group who, while keen to bang their heads and shred on flying V’s, did far more than just pinch from Slayer and Exodus.
Inventive, with relentless tempo and a commitment to progressive, spacey elements, they had what it took to set them apart. Many a beer was spilt to the pounding, heads-down lethality of the title track of that album.
‘Outer Isolation’ represents a solid step up the ladder for Vektor, and it’s markedly more ambitious release.
At first glance, it’s clear that the group’s ‘look’ harks back to the Voivod in their prime – with stygian, sci-fi influenced artwork and a logo that’s a dead ringer for the Canadians’. These are skin-deep similarities though. While the group have a firm basis in thrash, often referencing the most cutting aspects of ‘Rust in Peace’ era Megadeth, their flare for the intensely technical prompts more considered comparison with the likes of Coroner.
This time around they’ve got a far clearer production, and the big winner in that department has to be the acid-flecked vocals of David Desano. The man sounds like he’s channeling the demented spirit of Chuck Schuldiner a decade after the man himself passed away, floating above the mix with a spectral and throaty rasp.
The ambition of opener ‘Cosmic Cortex’ has to be admired. It’s the archetypical slow-building thrasher – all evil ambience leading into a ear-splitting screech from Desano and an onslaught of riffs. Though it might not sound much like it, the spirit of Nocturnus classic ‘The Key’ is hammered throughout this record, a sense of sci-fi alienation blasted home with the most merciless of instrumental fury.
As can be expected, at the heart of Vektor is a love for all things 80’s, with tales of giant brains in space abounding. What sets them apart from the rest of the herd is that they’ve enough intensity, pace and inventiveness to really colour their albums with that special factor. It’s what sets it above worship of the 80’s bands that blazed the trail. They simply sound like they mean it.
It’s a technical listen, but never overly so, always harking back to a solid hook or theme. The well-timed melodic break on ‘Venus Project’ is strong evidence that they know exactly what they’re doing. Thankfully, there’s enough punch on ‘Outer Isolation’ to make you sit up and pay attention for the majority of it, with only the odd moment of chugging repetition where attention wavers.
Things hit a high note on the final track, which features a scream of throat-bursting power before a return to the creepy atmosphere of the opening track. The 50 odd minutes of the flash by, always a good sign.
There will be those who will bemoan the slicker production and the grit of the debut which is missing here. Valid points, but there’s a feeling that the group has matured to the level where much more is possible, and the unified feel to this record speaks to that. It’s an album that could sit unhumbled amongst the works of the groups that inspired it, and that speaks volumes.
Crucially, Vektor have a hunger and enthusiasm that sounds engrained in the bones of what they play. Coupled with clearly stellar musicianship and ear for a great riff, it’s material that’s satisfyingly on the money. One imagines that given the chance in a live setting, they could firmly vanquish many of the still-trundling bands mentioned above. A force to be reckoned with then.
4.2 / 5 – Lorcan Archer ::: 16/12/11