The new wave of thrash metal has come and gone, it seems. Though the late aughts brought a lot of extremely talented young blood to the thrash scene, including Evile, Warbringer and Violator, thrash simply became another trend in the metal scene, and now it seems that hardly any thrash bands are standing out anymore. An exception to this, and a whopping one at that, is Vektor. Taking a page from the books of Voivod and Watchtower, Vektor's technical, progressive compositions and sci-fi themes made them stand out among the pack, their music a canvas for forward-thinking and completely untraditional thrash that appeals to both battle vest-adorned thrash fiends and nerdy prog kids alike. Their first two albums, Black Future and Outer Isolation were breath of fresh beer in the seemingly oversaturated "re-thrash" scene, and after a five year stretch between albums, Vektor has returned with the aptly titled Terminal Redux.
The first concept album for the band, Terminal Redux is by and large the best material Vektor has released to date. It's obvious that much of these past five years were spent writing and perfecting the music on this album, which is likely to be looked back upon as their magnum opus. Each individual musician in Vektor shines from a technical and musical standpoint on Terminal Redux, especially guitarists David DiSanto and Erik Nelson. They've written some of their most challenging and progressive material to date with this album, and therein lies its biggest strength, and also its biggest flaw. Metal and prog nerds will eat this album up; they'll listen to it over and over again, searching out the recurring melodies that pop up through the album and learning to look forward to the cosmic chord phrasings of "Cygnus Terminal" or the spine-snapping riffs of "Psychotropia." However, that's only if the listener is willing to sit through the album's 73-minute running time.
Even if you're a total doom-head like I am, 73 minutes is a lot to ask for an album like this. It would be different if it was entertaining the whole way through, but unfortunately, parts of Terminal Redux aren't as thrilling as other parts of the album would lead the listener to believe. Other parts still feel much too forced; specifically, "Collapse" and the clean parts of "Recharging the Void." It's easy to appreciate what Vektor is trying to accomplish as a prog band by experimenting with clean vocals and softer, spacier passages, but they could use some refining to make fit better within the context of the album. That said, don't let these gripes deter you from Terminal Redux; Vektor remains one of the best re-thrash bands on the scene, and certainly the most innovative. Space is not the final frontier for these Philadelphians; it's merely the beginning.