Warning: Lots of text incoming
Short answer: Vektor with Black Future, Outer Isolation and Terminal Redux
Longer answer: Those three albums tell a 3 pronged story of artistic and creative maturation and evolution that has been unheard of in the thrash metal genre for a quarter century, and is qualitatively without peer.
in 2009 the metal community was coming up on the tail end of the revival thrash boom period. A weird, amorphous, well intended and initially appreciated movement at the beginning, it was quickly becoming readily apparent to the wider audience and community at large that maybe, just maybe, molding your entire sound, image and style after a movement that creative peaked and effectively died in 1990 wasn’t the most sustainable way to go about creating art. It become very clear, very quickly that for all those bands that liked to play dress up an pretend they were Slayer and Exodus, a very select few actually showed any real promise. In other words, the Revival Thrash movement was dying out, and the lack of true artistic merit it had actually produced made the prospect of it’s death seem not wholly unwelcome.
And then, out of god damn nowhere, or Tempe, Arizona to be exact, came Vektor, and almost singlehandedly justified the triteness of the entire movement put together. What at a quick glance seemed like yet another bunch of millenials nostalgia-tripping over a decade they barely remembered, though with a slightly more quirky inspiration in canadian weirdo thrashers Voivod, turned out to be one of the most gripping and unrelenting attacks on stale genre tropes the thrash genre had seen in decades. Look, I know this reads like utter fucking hyperbole, but trust me, it isn’t. Black Future was a fucking explosion.
From the very first down pick of the guitars and David DiSanto’s black metal tinged war cry tear through the aether to the very last crash of the cymbals, Black Future did not just Sci Fi, or Thrash, or Voivod. Rather, it clearly and conscisely drew from these inspirations and weaved them all into a sound, an image, a story, a feeling. It is such an overwhelmingly confident and brazen introduction to a band, that I still have a hard time believing it’s actually their debut record.
Then, 2 years after arguably one of the most impressive debut records of the century, with the entire thrash community waiting on eggshells to hear just what the fuck those Arizona dude were up to, and where nobody would have honestly faulted them for, let’s say resting a bit on their creative laurels and gotten a bit derivative with their sound, They throw out Outer Isolation which might just be even better than Black Future ever was. WIth an increased focus on melodies and a deeper infatuation with the tremolo picked stylings of black metal, Outer Isolation at it’s highpoints hints at a marriage between melodies and madness that puts Vektor in a stratosphere that is not only of their own but also by their own creation.
So far, so good. Two qualitatively speaking astounding records into their career you’d like to imagine that Vektor were feeling pretty darn good about themselves at this point. At the same time there has to be some sort of trepedation. You’ve hit the home run both times you were up to bat so far, so not expectations are, rightfully starting to get awful high. The last thing you want to do in such a situation is to rush something, and thankfully Vektor felt the same way. It took them 5 years before they released a new record. and oh my goodness what a record it was
Terminal Redux is, in my own estimation, the greatest metal record of the 21st century. It is at the very least the most creatively, and conceptually ambitious thrash record since 1990 and maybe even before that? The mere idea of writing a thrash space opera sounds like a damn stupid idea. When you then use said space opera to do a dark re-telling of Rush’s 1976 epos 2112, it sounds realistically unplausible. When you decide to make said thrash album over 70 minutes long it sounds like an abject disaster. The concept of this thing had all the making of a god damn tragedy, like a bloated, unwieldy mess of a record, stumbling over it’s own ideas and premises. And yet the end product when you listen to it is… It’s just as eternally confident and steadfast as Black Future was back in 2009.
Terminal Redux is not only the most experimental of Vektors 3 albums, it also marks the end, the speartip of Vektor’s 3 pronged offensive on a genre that was creatively destitute for close 20 years. Moreover it marks the final stage of Vektors own transformation as a band, almost fully removed from it’s own past inspirations and presents a band that stands fully formed in their own image. That is why it’s the greatest 3 album run by an artist. It not only perfectly encapsulated a uniquely talented and visionary band slowly growing themselves into an artistic paragon, it also did so with the backdrop of a flailing sub genre and at a time where so very few acts had any idea how to stand out, and it creatively eclipsed every other act to have come out in the same genre since 1990.
I feel like that’s a pretty good story, and a pretty good run.