Vektor‘s first album Black Future came out 2 years ago almost to the day that this released in the US – if ever there were an album that utterly smashed any expectations I might have had, it was that particular slice of prog/thrash/WTF insanity, so the impending release of Outer Isolation has had me salivating in a most unseemly fashion. Of course, nothing is a nailed-on certainty but surely these guys would repay my faith?
I needn’t have worried at all – every single element that made Black Future such an essential listen is here, refined, enhanced and beefed-up by some slightly heftier yet clearer production. Any difficulty you may have following the myriad twists and turns of Vektor‘s lunatic, careering thrash epics is between you, your stereo equipment and your ear doctor this time around, basically – if you’ve heard it, Absu‘s last record Abzu has a very similar sound, very clean yet with no loss of intensity due to this. If anything, the clarity of the production makes Outer Isolation (and Abzu, for that matter) even more directed in its viciousness.
Sharp eyes and ears will spot that there are a few tracks on this new release that have appeared elsewhere – “Fast Paced Society’, ‘Tetrastructural Minds’ and ‘Venus Project’ did indeed all originally come out on Demolition, but the versions on here are so far advanced from those early takes as to be almost completely different songs. The band all but disown Demolition, and really, it’s of interest to only the most avid collectors – not recommended by me, anyway! That aside, all three of those tracks in their current incarnation make up the backbone of this record, for me. That’s not to say the surrounding tracks are weak – far from it, everything about this album is a vast leap forwards – but more that these three crystallise everything that’s so good about Vektor‘s sound. The pace, melodic diversions, sheer violence of their full-bore attack, and the insanity of the vocals all come together on these tracks perfectly to make the ideal microcosms with which to display the full mania of Vektor to newcomers.
There are highlights elsewhere, naturally – the screamed/sung chorus to ‘Dying World’ will make the vocalists among you wonder how the hell he manages to do it without his throat waving a white flag halfway through the first one (I certainly did!), and the guitar-work throughout is exemplary in its inventiveness and pure shredding prowess. Special mention also goes to the drummer – rarely will you find such a propulsive, organic, battering display of percussive mastery anywhere. Also, and this is pretty key to understanding Vektor’s mission – the album BEGINS with a ten-minute song. Sum total of this band pissing about = absolutely nil.