With the exception of maybe just a few other bands, Vektor have been basically running the thrash metal game in the modern era for a few years now. Their previous two albums, Black Future and Outer Isolation, were both met to almost universal acclaim from both metal fanatics and music critics well outside of their genre’s inner circle, and they’ve often been touted as one of the saviors of a seemingly-archaic style of heavy music. Now, with their longest period of absence between releases and relocation to Philadelphia, the band has been slowly plugging away at their epic follow-up to their previous maelstrom of progressive thrash. Though it might not be a completely bulletproof album, Terminal Redux is still a staggeringly well-crafted piece of work that showcases the band’s most musically competent and adventurous side yet.
Thankfully, Vektor know exactly how to wear their influences on their sleeve without seeming too much like a retro or throwback act, something the thrash metal genre has seen entirely too much of over the past decade. Terminal Redux is still firmly rooted in the stylings of old school riff wizards like Voivod and Nocturnus, but done completely on the band’s own terms. The band does an incredible job of constantly shifting up the feel of their often-lengthy songs which can mostly be attributed to the masterful drum-work of Blake Anderson. Just when things feel like they may get stale, Anderson always knows when to keep the dynamics of practically every song alive and well, whether it’s settling into a spine-splitting groove or cranking the throttle into some bonafide black metal blasting. He may be overshadowed by the barrage of flashy guitar work that will demand the attention of every listener at a first glance, but Anderson’s importance to the cohesion of Terminal Redux cannot be overplayed.
Those on the hunt for a veritable thunderstorm of metal’s best riffage in 2016 have got exactly what they’ve waited for in Terminal Redux. The interplay between David DiSanto and Erik Nelson is downright jaw dropping and practically unparalleled in their style on this album. It doesn’t matter whether it’s the tapping onslaught of “LCD (Liquid Crystal Disease),” the brain-melting sweeps near the end of “Pillars of Sand” or the epic and symphonic closing moments of “Charging the Void,” these varying approaches to metal are all done with an immense attention to intricacy and detail. There’s also even a healthy death metal influence on the album, particularly in the album’s middle batch of songs. The slower moments of “Psychotropia” would sound right at home on either of the last two Death albums, and the similarities between Chuck Schuldiner’s and DiSanto’s banshee shrieks are simply too present to deny.
While even the longest thrash epics of the 80s clocked in at most an hour in length, Vektor has decided once again to spare no one and release 73 minutes of undeniably demanding material. This makes perfect sense, since the band hasn’t released an album in half a decade, but it’s also going to be the biggest line in the sand for a lot of fans out there. It’s simply a lot to ask of a casual metal fan, but then again, Terminal Redux is anything but a caring or caressing listen. Luckily, the band knows exactly when to cut off their more “typical” style near the end of the album and transform their style into full-on progressive metal with “Collapse” and “Recharging the Void,” two of the band’s most gratifying and epic tracks in their entire catalog. Just when the listener may start to feel ear fatigue set in, Terminal Redux pays everything off with the record’s most sci-fi inspired material yet that completely justifies the album’s positively beautiful artwork. Anyone on the hunt for time changes galore, grandiose symphonic moments, some clean vocals to break things up, and the album’s best melodic moments have got them in fucking spades right here.
So is this an undisputed classic for music as a whole? It’s probably too early to tell. Is this the exact defibrillator boost to the heart of thrash fans that was desperately needed? You bet your denim-vest-wearing ass it is. Sure, this album is a really challenging piece of work and the fact that it’s well over an hour long certainly makes it a rather daunting listen, but Vektor’s “simply don’t give a fuck” attitude to their songwriting more than forgives these minor gripes. Get your hands on Terminal Redux immediately; it’s inevitably going to be of the finest and most adrenaline-spiking releases anyone will come across for months to come.
Vektor’s Terminal Redux gets…