When: Sun., Aug. 19, 7 p.m. 2012
Deep space, as any good science-fiction fan knows, is a busy place, especially if you count the business that goes on in the imagination. The four gentlemen in Vektor, a self-described "sci-fi thrash metal band" from Philadelphia (by way of Tempe, Arizona), may intend to evoke bleak interplanetary wastes with last year's Outer Isolation (Heavy Artillery), but their frantic riffing fills those voids right down to the last bubble of quantum foam. When I wrote about Vektor's full-length debut, Black Future, a couple years ago, I called it "spiky, proggy, and melodic, with a pell-mell energy that keeps the music from drifting to the noodly side of progressive." Most of that verbiage could also be applied to Outer Isolation, but it doesn't do justice to the ferocious precision and breathless momentum of the newer album—even the occasional glistening lacework of clean guitar feels tense instead of serene. Just about the only thing here that doesn't leap light-years beyond retro-leaning "re-thrash" are the shrieky, somewhat characterless vocals, which depart from standard-issue only with the unearthly squeals that guitarist and front man David DiSanto uses as punctuation. Nuttily baroque song structures unwind through fractal collages of time signatures; dizzying matrices of spider-legged riffs resolve into scintillating, gymnastic guitar solos. Sometimes I could swear the band is self-consciously trying to top the high-flying goofiness of gonzo pulp sci-fi from the 60s and 70s—they might zig into a nursery-school interlude of tick-tock rocking-horse melody, or zag into a frenzied accelerando that feels like a spacefaring dirt bike breaking up on reentry. In the future, apparently, they'll have amphetamines so powerful that you actually vibrate and glow after a good honk. —Philip Montoro Meganaut and Nucleus open.