Wednesday 24 August 2016

LIVE REVIEW: Vektor @ The Star & Garter, Manchester, England. 17th August 2016

By: Phil Weller


With much of 2015 spent cooped up in writing sessions and locked behind studio doors, Arizona thrash troupe Vektor were always going to spread their wings in 2016, and with an army of blisteringly progressive and technical, gilt-edged songs now adorning their arsenal, it is no surprise they chose to smash through ‘Terminal Redux’ in its entirety during this mini UK tour. And what an album it is. Sprinkled with some form of pixie dust, or perhaps bolstered by main man David DiSanto bargaining away his soul in some form of Robert Johnson type deal with the devil, however they have crafted this album, it has thrust them into the heart of extreme metal’s war cabinet.
From shrill vocal shrieks to cannoning drum work and lusciously defined twin guitar attacks, here is a record that has a sickening amount of tricks up its sleeve. As, one by one, they give each trick– such as the sombre openings of ‘Cygnus Terminal’, which morphs into a stomping beast of a song to the dextrous, tapped guitar playing of its successor ‘LCD (Liquid Crystal Disease)’ – they always remain engaging and entertaining. While many modern thrash bands have the tendency to fall into a clichéd formulaic reiteration of the 80s classics, Vektor prove to be much more than just a thrash band and here they parade their rich, coloured plumage before a sweat box of a room.
The dingy old pub of The Star & Garter, which nestles just a stone’s throw away from Piccadilly Train Station’s bustling taxi rank, is the most fitting place for music as nasty and visceral as this to mark its territory tonight. As the sky – barely visible through a grubby window at the back of the stage – slowly darkens, and as the block of flats whose figure cuts a striking silhouette upon it slowly becomes illuminated, the temperature becomes increasingly stifling. You sweat, you swig your beers quicker and you cheer even louder. The bludgeoning mess that is playing out before you, even with the PA sometimes struggling to handle the sheer attack of it all, is reciprocated in a packed-together crowd; one detailed by battle jackets and bobbing heads.
Though, as boisterous as this music is, it is always tactful in its chaotic expulsion. The whiplash pace of ‘Ultimate Artificer’, one of the more out-and-out thrash numbers, is well received alongside ‘Pillars of Sand’, a more epic sprawling song mercilessly pocked with musical plot-twists and side stories. Extreme their music may be, but thoughtless it is not.
Tonight the band seems in complete sync with each other. As they bombard their instruments they do so smiling, performing with a harmonious pleasure which truly crowns their set. They make the 73 minutes of the album’s lifespan seem much less – though dense with character and awe-inspiring moments – and that is testament to both their song writing and performing abilities.