Review Summary: Vektor’s most mature effort might as well be one for the ages.
Modern thrash metal is a lot of times a miss, rather than hit, business. Numerous bands try to recreate the atmosphere of thrash’s heydays while only few of them manage to create something truly special. Vektor’s third offering seems like that rare occasion where it has the potential to take its place among the better albums of the genre of the last 25 years or so. As the dust settles, we might be experiencing what in 10-15 years time might be considered one of the best thrash LPs of all time. This is how special Terminal Redux
feels; Vektor’s most accomplished release to date.
The first impression from the album is the sheer level of intensity. It might not be as aggressive as Vektor’s previous efforts but it certainly feels more mature and well-rounded and doesn’t lack in terms of energy or heaviness. The combination of intricate songwriting, clinical yet soulful execution and the integration of unusual influences is what separates it from the remaining modern thrash scene. And while some may rightfully think that this isn’t a serious feat, imagine if Terminal Redux
was released 25 years ago how it would have been received and measured up against the better albums of the genre. Going back to the high level of songwriting, it suffices to say that it simply doesn’t feel like a 73-minute LP as Vektor manage to keep the listener engaged through a variety of well-crafted riffs, meaningful leads and plenty of unexpected moments. For example, from the very beginning, one is pleasantly surprised by the melodic backing vocals towards the end of “Charging the Void”. There are occasions on here where the music feels like a perfectly organized chaos with guitar sweeps that have their root on black metal, vocals that remind Chuck Schuldiner’s The Sound of Perseverance
days, blastbeats (“Pteropticon”), moments of serenity and emotional passages like on the 5:30 mark of “Cygnus Terminal”. It is this combination that creates a highly addictive and appealing product.
Moreover, it has to be mentioned that Terminal Redux
is a concept album with the subject matter being power and how it can negatively affect those who seek it and eventually obtain a position of authority. Over the course of the album, feelings such as anger, desperation, malice, melancholy and isolation among others, are communicated via the instrumentation. At this point, special notice should be made regarding the production as everything sounds clean but not clinical, maintaining the crispy sound of the guitars and keeping the bass at a point where it is audible (“Psychotropia”). What is more, one can read the story for what it is but at the same time there are a few allegories. For example, “LCD” deals with how the population of the Cygnus regime is being controlled with the use of technology but at the same time criticizes the overdependence of modern people on their computers and mobile phones’ screens.
Furthermore, another element that makes Terminal Redux
standout is its instrumental influences that range from Death’s Human
, guitar solos or simply the name of the imaginary regime (Cygnus) that scream Rush and even Pink Floyd on “Recharging the Void”. Therefore, one can easily categorize the album easily as progressive as much as thrash. All the above, combined with the sci-fi-fueled nature construct a musical adventure equivalent of Ridley Scott’s Alien
or Blade Runner
. Shockers such as the inclusion of a group of soul singers, or a ballad with clean vocals (“Collapse”), also help in maintaining one’s focus without a feeling of tiredness. Arguably, the highlight of the album comes after “Collapse” and is where it seems as if everything comes together. “Recharging the Void” is dynamic, melodic, catchy despite its duration, and even includes a part from “Charging the Void” which gives the sense that the story has come full circle.
Calling Terminal Redux
a stone cold classic only days after its release just doesn’t feel right. But the reason has to do merely with time rather than quality as there is significant probability we’re watching history being made. For the writer of this review, this is how modern thrash metal should sound; bold, experimental, incorporating various influences but at the same time maintaining a strong identity. Vektor gambled and it has paid off big time.