We’re only a few months into 2016 and already it feels like the year of sci-fi resurgence. This isn’t to imply that there’s been a stunning lack of sci-fi themed music in the past few years, but not since the glory days of prog rock has there been such consistency in both the amount of space-centric music being churned out as well as the quality of it. After the unparalleled Blackstar, the unbelievably real documentation on Third Law, and the otherworldly jam sessions of Things Our Bodies Used to Have, the outer space aesthetic seemed tapped out for the year before it ever really got going. But Vektor, on their new lead single from upcoming album Terminal Redux, aim to prove there’s a lot more to extrapolate from the style ripped far from the Earth’s atmosphere.
The thrash metal outfit Vektor have held a large stake in the modern metal scene, holding the coveted title of Best in the Game by fans and critics alike, offering back-to-back projects that solidify them as unmitigated auteurs. The band has grown more conceptually driven, following their masterpiece Black Future with Outer Isolation, an hour-long exploration into another world, told through the brash lens of hyper-amplified speed metal. And they seem to be continuing down this road of unabashed prog-stylings, especially given the cover of their upcoming LP and the sound of their newest space epic, “Charging the Void”.
Vektor’s latest offering acts as both the model for modern metal as well as an exemplary take on how making slight adjustments to expectancies can make for something wholly original and remarkable. As a metal track, “Charging the Void” is grand in scope and tangibly precise. And although the track is covered in thrash metal extravagancies, like David DiSanto’s effortless screams that never feel strained or Erik Nelson’s persistent guitar hammering, the absolute dedication to capturing the feelings of being part of the abyss is what makes this track stand out above anything like it.
Beginning with an ambient drone that unfurls coldly just as space transmission might, the band undercuts the rattling and uneasiness with the familiar soar of the guitar, ushering in an unadulterated seven minutes of showcased proficiency. The drum blasts are relentless and the guitar playing is chromatic, changing from power chord trudges to solo-styled electric movements. And had the track ended around the six-minute mark, it still would have been a noteworthy display of what metal has become. But Vektor press on, high off ambition. The vocals are suddenly given more weight, the instrumentation growing proggier and drifting into the background. Then, in a peculiarly amazing choice of direction, DiSanto holds off any more screams in lieu of an archaic warbling that oddly complements the instrumentation perfectly. It’s juxtaposition at its finest, combining thrash metal that’s been soaked in a futuristic sheen with a barbaric harmonization of moaning. And it’s this apparent disregard for formalities and genre norms that elevates “Charging the Void” to such interstellar heights, giving insight and hope that the band’s third album may very well be their best.
– Zach W.