To say this is a long-awaited album, at least for me personally, is an understatement. It’s been a few years since sci-fi prog thrash maniacs Vektor’s stellar last album, Outer Isolation, and I’m sure it’s fair to say that Vektonauts every where have been hungry for their latest opus – Terminal Redux.
Where do I start? I had a lot of difficulty with this review and I’ve had to keep coming back to the album after taking breaks from it for it to properly sink in. Terminal Redux is a vast album full to the brim with complex music but once it’s been taken in, it’s definitely worth it.
To start, Terminal Redux is a concept album telling the story of man who has been sent away to survive in isolation on the outer reaches of space as part of a government program. He then returns to the galactic empire power hungry and vengeful against those who sentenced him to the program. Upon his return he takes control of the empire by brutal means with the ultimate goal of using his power for the greater good of the universe.
The album is epic, almost cinematic in nature and the songs all link together brilliantly to tell the story. Opening number “Charging the Void” sets the tone for Terminal Redux perfectly with blend of straight up thrash riffs, melodic ideas, black metal-style blasts and frontman David DiSanto’s trademark shrieks. The track progresses through various different sections structurally and features a plethora of great riffs – all of which are catchy, memorable and sure to get the head banging. A particular highlight is at the end of the song where Vektor have collaborated with a soul choir to add extra depth to the closing melodic riffs. It shows a progression in the band’s sound and a willingness to experiment further and use additional instrumentation to expand their musical vision. It works to great effect and overall makes “Charging the Void” one of the best extreme metal songs I’ve heard in a long time.
The next track, “Cygnus Terminal” continues the progressive nature of the album with more complex structures and different movements within the song to tell the story. It features time changes between 4/4 and 6/8 as well as more dramatic tempo changes, as well as mysterious-sounding clean guitar parts, more melodic ideas and plenty of thrashing riffs which continue to keep Terminal Redux interesting. Following tracks, “LCD (Liquid Crystal Disease)”, “Ultimate Artificer” (featuring a haunting clean intro track “Mountains Above the Sun”), and “Pteropticon” are all shorter song with a much more straight-up aggressive high-energy headbanging thrash approach. There’s still plenty of amazing and varied riffing and instrumental technique on offer in these songs as well as differing sections within them which remain memorable and expertly continue the story.
The next song, “Psychotropia” marks another tempo change for a much more mid-paced number for the most part before creeping back up to a relentless tempo chock full of thrash, death and black metal-style riffing after the moodier riffing in first portion of the song. The solo-off between the guitar and bass near the end of the mid-section is also a highlight before the song ends with a return to the riffs shown in the first part of the song. “Pillars of Sand” returns to Vektor’s relentless high-speed style and features a more of their black metal influence mixed with more melodic ideas. The mid-section introduces another mix of changes between compound time and 4/4 and showcases more expert interplay between the guitar and bass.
Penultimate number “Collapse” is another particular standout track on Terminal Redux in that it’s something of a ballad, which Vektor haven’t done before. It features more clean guitars and a haunting ethereal vocal style from DiSanto that’s reminiscent of Pink Floyd. The song then increases in speed, while remaining in the clean guitar style, introduces some jazz-style soloing. DiSanto then utilises a multi-layered vocal style combining his ethereal cleans with his more aggressive vocal fry which works beautifully for “Collapse”. The closing half of the song goes between more clean guitar arpeggios and heavy riffs, changes in tempo and remains overall melodic which makes “Collapse” perhaps the most unique and epic song on the album (maybe even in Vektor’s career!).
Terminal Redux closes with “Recharging the Void” which is the longest song on the album. Again it features a , plethora of varying riff-styles and structures. The first section goes between thrashing ideas and an Immortal-esque black metal idea. The mid-section features more clean guitars and the return of the soul choir from the first song, in particular a female vocalist who interplays with clean vocals from the band in a style reminiscent of Pink Floyd and Yes. The closing section returns to a high-speed melodic thrash-fest backed up by the choir and ends of a reprise of the ending idea from “Charging the Void”.
Sci-fi prog thrashers Vektor’s latest album Terminal Redux is a vast and epic conceptual work with a multitude of varying riffs, styles, tempo and time changes, musical and vocal techniques. Though it may take some time, undivided attention and repeated listens to fully appreciate and properly enjoy, Terminal Redux is easily a contender for the best metal album of 2016 (in my opinion) because of it’s expert musicality, energy, and uniqueness. Terminal Redux exhibits growth in Vektor’s style from their beginnings and a willingness to experiment with new ideas that brilliantly enhance their musical vision and style. An amazing album, and I can’t wait to experience it live, and see what Vektor produce in the future. Sci-fi or die!
Highlights: “Charging the Void”, “Cygnus Terminal”, “LCD (LIquid Crystal Disease)”, “Ultimate Artficer”, “Pteropticon” and “Collapse”
Terminal Redux is available now via Earache records.
Vektor are due to start touring this week beginning with some festival dates including Brutal Assault festival (Czech Republic) on the 10th of August, Into the Grave festival (Netherlands) on the 12th of August, Vagos Metal Fest (Portugal) on the 13th of August and on the Sophie Lancaster stage at Bloodstock Open Air on Sunday 14th of August. Following these festivals, Vektor will tour Europe beginning in the UK and Republic of Ireland before playing shows in the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Greece, Italy, Austria, Germany and Russia.
Header image by Katie A.D. Photography