5. Terminal Redux – Vektor
The words “conceptual” and “thrash metal” don’t often meet. For three albums, Vektor have been attempting valiantly to remedy this mindset, and in so doing, they sparked a paradigm shift. Music can be frantic whilst also telling a concept album-style story; it follows a military general astronaut who, after finding a mineral which holds the key to immortality, ascends to a position of high political power in Cygnus, the intergalactic regime he once served. Admittedly, it’s the oddest story in metal since Mastodon released Crack the Skye seven years ago, but it is remarkably conveyed.
On a surface level, Vektor incorporate novel riffs into every song, making the album a headbanger’s delight. Their guitar mastery is pushed to the limit on the track ‘Pteropticon’, with the time signature shifting three times through the song. Starting with David DiSanto’s palm-muted rhythm guitar (so rapid you can smell the amp burning out), with Erik Nelson’s arpeggiated lead notes scrabbling to keep up, the intensity builds as the weak are slaughtered and worlds are erased… only to slow to a triumphant chug as our protagonist finally seizes complete control of the government.
The song ends on a fade out, with slow, atmospheric guitar chords, overlaid by even slower and high-pitched notes, evocative of the feeling of futility in the face of adversity, as the citizens of Cygnus, now subjects of an immortal dictator, are filled with dread. You can nearly see the smirk on his face as he decrees: “The population will be halved through our cleansing/Every defect razed/Cygnus V.2 is now in command/Your future will be safe.” The album never lets up, be it painting the hellscape of a galaxy in strife, the rage and insanity in our protagonist’s corrupt psyche, or the ease with which fear can divide even the strongest of societies.
Whilst perhaps not the most immediately accessible album, its true accomplishment unfolds over repeated listens – especially as the true horror in the lyrics, and the parallels to be drawn between them and current world politics, dawns on the listener.
Favourite Track: LCD (Liquid Crystal Disease)
Text by Aidan Lindsay, photo borrowed from lilsong1.com.