Review Summary: "I think I'm losing my mind."
To say that expectations for Vektor’s third LP were high is a massive understatement. After two excellent releases in 2009 and 2011, the Arizona quartet were hailed as the saviors of thrash and pinpointed as one of the best up-and-coming bands in the metal scene. In the five years between Outer Isolation
and Terminal Redux
, hype and expectations grew to a fever pitch, reaching a point in which it seemed impossible that the band simply could even begin to live up to the enormous standards created by the metal community as a whole. Surely this small-time group of sci-fi aficionados had no hope of releasing the “spiritual successor to Rust in Peace
" that the world demanded of them.
To say that Vektor’s third LP exceeds those expectations is an equally massive understatement. Put simply, Terminal Redux
is beyond a shadow of a doubt the best thrash metal album of the 21st century and one of the greatest displays of technical and creative metal musicianship ever recorded. The idea of a 73 minute thrash metal album came across as ludicrous to many (including myself), but Vektor fill that daunting time frame with easily the best material of their career, resulting in the album flowing superbly and not feeling its length whatsoever. Additionally, the band add a plethora of new elements to the tried-and-true Vektor formula, each of them bettering the tracks in which they are utilized. From the operatic backing vocals of "Charging the Void" to the actual singing in "Collapse" and even the Pink Floyd-esque midsection in epic closer "Recharging the Void," Terminal Redux
is over an hour of Vektor proving to the listener that they can simply do no wrong.
From a technical standpoint, Terminal Redux
is rock-solid. Guitarists Erik Nelson and David DiSanto put on a clinic, showcasing their best, most melodic work to date, most notably on the blistering “Liquid Crystal Disease.” Additionally, DiSanto delivers the most diverse performance of his career, adding some lower vocals and even a dash of clean singing to his regimen. The album’s overall sound is aided by a superb production job; while Outer Isolation
was somewhat overproduced, every instrument is crystal clear in Terminal Redux’s
mix. As a result, the bass guitar is audible at almost all times, adding another dimension to each song that wasn’t always present on previous releases.
Beyond the musicianship and musical direction, however, it’s the stunning creativity that shines the brightest. Terminal Redux
is the first metal album I have listened to in years that actually made me think “holy shit, I’ve never heard anything like this before,” and that’s what truly makes the album remarkable. Rather than simply displaying mindless technicality, Vektor have created a concept album that sounds as stunning as its subject matter. This ingenuity is most present in the album’s final two songs, the aforementioned “Collapse” and “Recharging the Void.” “Collapse,” or at least the first half of it, is the first ballad ever attempted by the band; serving as a remarkable departure from the album’s first seven tracks, it creates a serene atmosphere before becoming one of the very few thrash metal songs that I could even begin to describe as emotional. This emotion carries over into "Recharging the Void," the crown jewel of an album filled to the brim with crown jewels. Boasting epic riff after epic riff, the track eventually breaks down into a straight-up 70s prog rock section before picking back up into an absolutely breathtaking finale.
Put simply, Terminal Redux
is a stunning statement of the capabilities of thrash metal as an art form--because, above all, the album fucking rocks.
Despite the beauty and creativity exemplified here, Vektor have crafted an honest-to-god thrash album, and the fun associated with the genre is in no way lost here; no, instead of abandoning their genre of choice, these guys have simply taken it in a wholly new, exciting direction. Whether the thrash metal genre takes note of this revolution remains to be seen, but the fact of the matter remains: as long as it still has Vektor, thrash metal’s future is bright.