Friday, 13 January 2012

Vektor – Outer Isolation (Review)

Vektor’s 2009 album, Black Future came along at precisely the right time to gain recognition. The whole re-thrash phenomenon was building, spearheaded by groups such as Municipal Waste and a zeitgeist led wave of nostalgia saw net critics, professional and semi-literate alike turn their gaze back to the raucous cacophony of 80s and 90s thrash. Suddenly names that had not appeared in public memory since that time, Kreator, Exodus, Testament, Possessed and a whole slew of others took on a Vaseline smudged, midday soap opera, soul food like sheen. Everyone loved thrash again. And why not? Thrash is rad. The deeper you dig in, the more you find. The remnants of punk melody and recklessness, the beginnings of technicality, origins of “brutality” can be peeled back and rearranged, repositioned in an attempt to either design or discover musicological and genre cohesion. Historic thrash is a Lego playground, endlessly splintering the further you go in time and geography. Re-thrash became “let’s trash re-hashed thrash”, the bubble burst, survivors continued onward and Vektor’s latest album, Outer Isolation, quickly and quietly slipped under everyone’s radar in an oddly timed year end release.

Outer Isolation is essentially an updated Twenty-First Century take on prog-period Voivod (Dimension Hatross, Nothingface). Isolation twists and turns, throwing out new riffs and time changes and is sewn together by interesting chord voicings and an overall Hawkwind (in spacey concept, certainly not sound) vibe. Normally this kind of aggressively scattershot approach is not my cup of tea but unlike a lot of highly technical metal its heart lies in an accessible place: gnarly, inventive thrash. What is worth special mention is the way jarring clean guitar tones are used to accent and emphasise riffs and provide a sense of both clarity and expansiveness to the tightly compressed galloping, grooving and twisting thrash riffs. With a cover as cool as it has, Outer Isolation demands a vinyl release. Here’s hoping!

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