Monday, 13 June 2016

#393 Vektor - Terminal Redux (2016)

In so far as it has been some time since my fingers graced the keys, staring at the blank screen with a sense of vague cognitive unease, it could easily be said - without deploying too much hyperbole - that Vektor's new record defies the English language, at least for a while. Roughly half-an-hour, all things considered. Its ability to do so, I would opine, is not only a testament to its quality, but is likewise musically and thematically appropriate; Vektor are, and always have been, unearthly. Lost for words though it may have temporarily rendered me, "Terminal Redux" has conversely been one of the most discussed metal records of 2016. The album's predecessor "Outer Isolation" has received ten reviews on Metal Archives, over the span of around five years - a fairly generous quotient, might I add, a number befitting an album of its quality. "Terminal Redux" has received fourteen reviews over the span of a month, and thus far, all of them positive. If that's not motivation to find something to say about the record, then nothing is, and thus, I shall struggle on.

Vektor have always been musically fascinating; it's a fact that made them stand out from their peers, by light-years, during the hit and miss shenanigans of the mid-2000s "thrash-revival". Both "Black Future" and "Outer Isolation" were records that stood at times almost completely alone in a raging sea of radioactive beer and zombies. While some bands, for better or worse, insistently superglued themselves to the constraints of the retro - to the figurative rulebook of their genre - Vektor were different; possessed, almost from the very outset, with a penchant to mould and transmogrify the thrash genre, to repurpose and refit it for their own musical vision. Like many of the best-of-the-best, instead of pouring their music into the mould of a genre, Vektor use thrash as a conduit for their bizarre and sinister music to traverse, and ultimately manifest itself from. While they have always done this, and, without exception, to great effect, scanners suggest that this cosmic amalgam, like some science-defying futuristic substance, is present in even higher quantities within this specimen. Indeed, "Terminal Redux" further warps the limitations of genre, simpliciter, to the extent that I'd be almost reluctant to ascribe it one fully, in the act of, for instance, recommending the band to a friend. Thrash, perhaps - but to some extent nominally so; and perhaps not the best mode in which to listen to the music. In many respects it is from this that the record takes on its inscrutable and massively appealing air of musical otherworldliness; its complexity and musical quirkiness forces one to listen to it almost entirely on its own merits, and those merits are, suffice to say, substantial. 

Each Vektor album, including this one, has been the site of an unusually well-executed reconciliation; of the side consisting of the band's almost absurd musicianship, rapturous technicality and magnificent inventiveness, with the opposing side. That is, whilst Vektor are a truly blistering band to listen to; requiring attention, dedication and numerous re-listens, their albums, including this one, also boast an uncanny ability to still flawlessly deliver direct and appreciable metal energy. It is powerful, memorable and at times down right ballsy. The complexity is not committed to the detriment of such foundational pillars as good-riffs - really fucking good riffs - memorable songs, and so forth, and in that regard the album's ability to be understood exists in a logically-uncertain but undoubtedly magnificent juxtaposition and cohabitation with its resplendent and exciting complexity. "Terminal Redux" is far from an unappealing behemoth of convoluted and gratuitously complex proportions - that is to say, it is decidedly not the type of progressive metal record which keeps me awake at night trembling in fear. Instead every inch of complexity and technicality are created for a purpose, and used - and I hesitate to use an objective term in a business so seemingly subjective as music - correctly.

"Terminal Redux" showcases Vektor at their most complex, ambitious and mature yet; further expanding their nebulous galactic empire into new systems, new influences, new swathes of genre and technicality previously unexplored. Indeed, perhaps the most tangible way in which I can capture it in words is to explain to the reader just how little I have succeeded in conveying about the record, even in spite of my best efforts. The album was almost five years in the making, and has transpired to be worth every minute; Vektor are a band who have every right to take their time, when the music they produce is as good as this. The record is a standout of 2016, and, with time, will perhaps come to be remembered as one of the standout records in metal more generally. Superb.

This is a 9.5/10.