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Vektor - Outer Isolation CD (album) cover

OUTER ISOLATION

Vektor

 

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

3.89 | 57 ratings

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Prog Sothoth
4 stars Thrash has always been considered one of the more stringent sub-genres of metal when it comes to trademarks, thus you don't see a whole slew of thrash bands qualifying as "progressive". That being said, Vektor tosses constraints to the wind and successfully outclasses the vast majority of the numerous thrash revival bands by fully embracing progressive aspects utilized in particular by Voivod (just look at the band's logo to see the obvious influence), certain German thrash bands and some of the more technical early death metal acts while somehow residing within the zones of what would constitute a thrash metal band. The combination of these elements and quality songwriting merge admirably enough to earn respect as one of the more original recently formed extreme metal bands out there whose content is worth numerous repeated listens.

I mention 'quality songwriting' because it's something a decent portion of the more technically astute can sometimes forget when writing music. So much focus and attention is awarded to fleet-fingered wizardry and machine gun drumming that more than a few acts to my ears sound like little more than a bunch of arpeggio scales and sweeps played at breakneck speed over consistent blast-beats. That gets old real fast, possibly somewhere around the second song or so. This album, though, is chock full of fine riffs and song structures that don't feel disjointed, random or aimless. The riffs themselves pinball between consonant and dissonant chord progressions that retain a sort of catchy melodic pattern, much like Voivod circa Killing Technology, with an added flair of both progression and aggression, in that blast beats do appear on occasion, but really don't make up the basis for the album's tempo, which leans towards Slayer-esque pacing (I know, what a strange term).

Production-wise, Outer Isolation is mixed expertly in retaining a sci-fi mood that doesn't sterilize the overall sound of the instruments, but focuses more on clarity than heaviness, which in this case works in providing a cold clinical sound while upholding an organic flair to the instrumentation. Guitar solos jut in and out on occasion, and while impressive enough, remain secondary to the rhythm progressions themselves, which can be busy as all hell at times and yet memorable.

Vocally we're dealing with a guy who seems determined to lose his capacity to speak before he reaches his inevitable mid-life crisis. It's basically a throat shredding rasp that possesses some black elements, but actually resembles something more akin to the German thrash scene, such as Destruction's album The Antichrist or possibly a younger male sibling to Sabine from Holy Moses. Screechy, but not to ridiculous levels that would turn off more straightforward thrash metal fans. He's not my favorite vocalist for sure, but it somehow fits well with the music, in which the guitars carry the melody while the vocals add another layer of rhythm.

You know, when I first heard of the band and saw their logo, I almost wrote them off before even giving them a chance as some Voivod ripoff. Then I reminded myself how much I dig Voivod, and how there's plenty of worse acts to emulate, so I gave Vektor a shot and was fully impressed at how original this group resounded. They actually have obtained a presence of their own by harnessing some influences and melding them into something new while enhancing their sound by focusing moreso on songcraft than histrionics. Within the confines of a genre so well defines by 80's standards, that's saying something.

Prog Sothoth | 4/5 |

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