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VEKTOR Terminal Redux Album Cover Terminal Redux
4.37 | 19 ratings
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VOIVOD Dimension Hatröss Album Cover Dimension Hatröss
4.24 | 35 ratings
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MADROST The Essence of Time Matches No Flesh Album Cover The Essence of Time Matches No Flesh
4.41 | 7 ratings
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CORONER No More Color Album Cover No More Color
4.23 | 28 ratings
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VEKTOR Outer Isolation Album Cover Outer Isolation
4.20 | 32 ratings
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WATCHTOWER Control And Resistance Album Cover Control And Resistance
4.17 | 23 ratings
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VOIVOD Killing Technology Album Cover Killing Technology
4.14 | 28 ratings
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MEKONG DELTA In a Mirror Darkly Album Cover In a Mirror Darkly
4.25 | 7 ratings
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SADUS A Vision of Misery Album Cover A Vision of Misery
4.14 | 7 ratings
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VEKTOR Black Future Album Cover Black Future
4.05 | 35 ratings
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CORONER Mental Vortex Album Cover Mental Vortex
4.05 | 24 ratings
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REVOCATION Deathless Album Cover Deathless
4.08 | 7 ratings
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Thousand Years Of Terror
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SKYGLOW Thousand Years Of Terror

Album · 2018 · Technical Thrash Metal
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siLLy puPPy
In recent years there has been a prolific output of technically gifted musicians from behind the former Iron Curtain with Russia leading the way. Metal vocalist Alexander Mokin, having been raised in the city of Saratov found a connection with myriad extreme metal bands ranging from the classic era of In Flames, Be’Lakor and Metallica along with the more technically gifted wizardry on display with bands like Death, Dissection, Dark Tranquility, Necrophagist and The Chasm.

Mokin started to write his own music in 2012 and four years later was joined by long time friend and guitarist Vlad Kudryavtsev to form the band “Eyes Of Skyglow,” later shortened to SKYGLOW. Once Sergey Stepenenko from Excruciation By Silence replaced Kudryavtsey and handled both guitar and bass duties, the lineup was almost complete with drummer Dmitriy Kim filling the last spot.

In 2017 the band released a short two track demo called “Curse Of The Butterfly” and in 2018 they see their debut THOUSAND YEARS OF TERROR cast its shadow over an unsuspecting world. After a brief virtuosic performance of acoustic classical guitar leading the way, the music bursts into the full pyrogenic fury of technical thrash metal. These guys are riff monsters with a clear Vektor type of fury on display with a youthful energetic bombast, yet with a seasoned flare for dynamic shifts, alternating tempos and dramatic displays of neoclassical virtuosity strewn about.

The inspiration behind the theme of the album lies in Mokin’s analysis of government corruption that tells the tale of a millennium of the horrors of Russian history. While the music is firmly based in unrelenting tech thrash metal, there are health doses of Western classical music in the form of guitar and keyboards that crank out pleasant melodies that develop into fully formed thrash fury. While fitting well into the technical thrash crowds, this is melodic thrash metal that utilizes the lush compositional structures of classical music.

While the world is saturated with a gazillion metal bands as we approach the third decade of the 21st century, very few stand out amongst the ever increasing crowds. SKYGLOW is quite a different story altogether. This is a band that means business and pulls of the chops to accomplish their goal of the tech thrash metal soundtrack of Russian history in all its ugly regalia.

While a mere fledgling in the metal universe, SKYGLOW sounds like a seasoned band around for decades as THOUSAND YEARS OF TERROR not only exceeds in lyrical continuity but bedazzles with virtuosic prowess of the highest degree. The production is also noteworthy as it sounds like a bona fide professional release.

Fueled by shapeshifting time signature rich thrash metal riffs, choppy blastbeats meet jazzified percussive pummelation and brilliant classically rich intermissions accompanied by top notch thrash vocals, SKYGLOW is a band to look out for. On this debut album they display a maturity few bands muster up in a whole career. While the band claims The Chasm as their closest metal relative in stylistic terms, i hear a whole lot of Vektor inspired technicalities that show off their chops in perfect unison.

This is no clone band here. These guys really deliver one brutally satisfying track after another. So far, one of my favorite metal releases of 2018. Perhaps not quite to the level of finding a totally unique sound of their own, but they nailed the traditional classically infused thrash metal sound perfectly. Recommended.

VEXOVOID Call Of The Starforger

Album · 2017 · Technical Thrash Metal
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siLLy puPPy
Given the fact that Vektor has won the increasingly finicky metal community over so unanimously means serious business considering metal bands are a dime a dozen this far into the 21st century where there are far more copycats than fertile imaginative product. It has occurred to me that surely there must be some band out there somewhere who would jump on the blackened thrash bandwagon in similar vein to what the Arizona tech thrash band has achieved so gracefully. Well it turns out that there is indeed an assembly line in the works out there. In this case coming from the fertile wine growing regions of Sienna, Italy, the tech thrash band VEXOVOID who despite copping their name from a Portal album (thus showing their allegiance in many forms to the tech thrash world) sound like a dead ringer for Vektor in almost every way right down to the sci-fi based themes and eerie space album cover artwork.

The band released only one EP “Heralds Of The Stars” in 2014 but recently released their first full length album CALL OF THE STARFORGER three years later. When i say this band sounds like Vektor, i’m not kidding in the least. This band has a PHD in Vektor-ology and has learned how to mimic every little nuance that the first V-band has developed over the years right down to Danny Brunelli’s imitation blood curdling vocal screams that nails David DiSanto’s signature style. Similarly the music is practically identical in compositional form and delivery. The caustic blackened tones delivered in a stampeding thrash gallop all point to Arizona’s top dogs is rather uncanny as VEXOVOID has all the chops to pull off all these technical antics off with ease. CALL OF THE STARFORGER not only incorporates all of the aggressive bombast in perfect mimicry but they carefully craft out atmospheric passages as well.

While i’m not keen on blatant ripoffs of other band’s styles, i have to admit that VEXOVOID matches their muse exceedingly well and even sounds like they could pull off a usurping of the throne if only they had developed this style first. While Vektor is without a doubt the primarily band of worship here, there are also nods to “Rust In Peace” era Megadeath as well as the true pioneers of sci-fi thrash Voivod. As i’m writing this review and listening to this album, i’m torn between being highly impressed with the outstanding musicianship that cranks out some of the best 21st century technical thrash apart from their heroes of worship Vektor themselves but i’m also left with a slight bad taste because it’s sorely lacking in any sort of original stamp whatsoever. So what i’m left with an impression that this band is physically ready for prime time but needs to have a few epiphanies in order to glean some inspiration or reflection on their own identity. Well worth hearing and recommended as an up and coming band that will hopefully find its own voice on its journey. It certainly is dripping with potential and a great listen if you can stomach such copycatism.

ALTERED AEON Dispiritism

Album · 2004 · Technical Thrash Metal
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"Dispiritism" is the debut full-length studio album by Swedish thrash metal act Altered Aeon. The album was released through BLack Lotus Records in November 2004. Altered Aeon was formed in 2001, but had a rather short recording career as their 2007 "Reborn as Gods" demo didn´t result in a new record contract and the band subsequently disbanded.

The music on "Dispiritism" is a technical brand of thrash metal with US power metal leanings, and artists like Charred Walls of the Damned, Control Denied, and Antithesis, are valid references. The playing is on a high technical level, and lead vocalist Kjell Andersson sings both raw shouting vocals, and more melodic clean ones.

The album features 10 tracks and a full playing time of 42:06 minutes, but there´s a limited edition available of the album too which features two bonus tracks. An instrumental track titled "Cellular Disorganization", which is actually quite a great track, that could easily have been part of the regular edition, and a cover of "Welcome Home" by King Diamond. The latter is really well played, and as a result of the clear, powerful, and detailed sound production on "Dispiritism", it´s possible to hear details on this cover version, that you can´t hear on the original. Unfortunately that track and the rest of the tracks on the album, which feature vocals, are mared by the fact that Kjell Andersson isn´t the most interesting singer out there. His voice is as such powerful enough and he hits the notes too, but his tone and delivery just aren´t that interesting (and neither are the melody lines), and the vocals are soon reduced to something that is just there, or even worse a slight annoying element.

It´s not a major issue, as the instrumental part of the music pulls in a very positive direction featuring some intricate technical drumming, relatively complex thrashy riffing, and some very fine melodic guitar solos, but it´s not a positive either when the vocals don´t add to the music. They are generally toneless and lacking emotion.

The material is overall very well composed, but could have featured more catchy parts to hook the listener. Too often I find myself listening for technical chops instead of enjoying the catchiness of a track. I realize my review has come out a bit more negative than intended, but when I hear something featuring as much potential to be great as "Dispiritism" does, and that potential isn´t fulfilled, I can´t help being a bit critical. When that is said, "Dispiritism" is still quite an interesting technical thrash metal release with US power metal leanings, and if you enjoy the genre, and maybe some of the artists I mentioned above, chances are you might enjoy this one too. A 3.5 star (70%) rating is deserved.

MADROST The Essence of Time Matches No Flesh

Album · 2017 · Technical Thrash Metal
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It was only last year that the metal world was hit by storm by the technical thrash metal tour de force that was the third Vektor album Terminal Redux (2016). Now their US countrymen Madrost seem to be hankering for a bit of that kind of action, if the pulling out all the stops approach of their own third album The Essence of Time Matches No Flesh (2017) is anything to judge these things by. It's been a few years since Madrost released Into The Aquatic Sector (2014), an instrumentally accomplished but not full-on technical death-thrash metal album, but a few years and a 50% new line-up later they've really evolved into something much more complex. I'm sure most thrash metal listeners will be sceptical over any band being able to touch Vektor, who are of course absolutely insanely talented musicians who undoubtedly deserve the praise they have gotten to date, but here's the thing for me:

The Essence of Time Matches No Flesh is a much better metal album than Terminal Redux.

I didn't want to make this review all about Madrost verses Vektor, especially since technical thrash metal is hardly a field unique to the two of them, but it's simply too good a comparison to play with when describing how Madrost's music sounds, since I'm sure most people reading this have at least sampled the Vektor album, seeing as it was basically treated like the metal event of the decade last year. If you haven't then I'd guess that you either don't like thrash metal (in which case why are you reading this?) or have been living under a rock.

When considering how both The Essence of Time Matches No Flesh and Terminal Redux exist in the same genre and even play with similar influences beyond thrash metal, yet come across differently, I find that the phrase 'less is more' really seems appropriate. Terminal Redux is a massive release featuring about 73 minutes of music while with The Essence of Time Matches No Flesh you can flip those two digits around. The more precise running time if 37:39 (that's about ten minutes longer than Into the Aquatic Sector ran for). There are three less tracks than Vektor's album (giving this album seven) and all are written in a much more 'to the point' kind of way, though can still pass the six minute mark, as is the case with No Future and Dimensions. There is less music here in terms of tracks and length, yet it leaves a stronger impression in no small part because of that. The shorter total running time means that when the album concludes I think about playing it again much sooner, where Vektor's lengthy opus can easily be seen as overwhelming.

Madrost favour a raw and unadulterated aggression when it comes to their music, which is enhanced perfectly by the production which is professional yet not overly slick and polished. There is some melody to be found, but its used quite subtly. Their style retains the death metal element of albums past but they are certainly a case where the thrash metal elements are considerable more prominent than the death metal ones. While The Essence of Time Matches No Flesh can even get a little bit progressive as well as technical Madrost don't mess around with fancy frills and unexpected influences and just get the job done, happily kicking arse along the way via the occasional softer atmospheric 'breather' section, which really only serve to further highlight the intensity of the album when Madrost shift things back into fifth gear. It is, needless to say, a hard hitting and powerful album with insane musicianship that's technically proficient but never self-indulgent and that's exactly why it works so well. If I had to pick a few favourites from it I'd have to name Abstractions, Dimensions and Eyes of the Deceit but the remaining four certainly aren't lesser tracks in any way.

Madrost are obviously not anywhere near as well known as Vektor, yet, but if there is any justice in this world then The Essence of Time Matches No Flesh will be the album that changes that. Even if you ultimately disagree with my assessment that they have one upped Vektor with this album (something I would repeat even if you held a gun to my head), there's no doubt in my mind that at the very least Madrost have delivered 2017's response to Terminal Redux and perhaps even the best thrash metal album of the year.

VEKTOR Terminal Redux

Album · 2016 · Technical Thrash Metal
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The Crow
A brutal travel through space and death!

Hearing Terminal Redux is like being propelled through light years of heinous wars, apocalyptic starship crashes and obscure mythologies. The concept of the album is obtuse and difficult to understand, but also an adventure to discover, just like the music of Vektor. They proudly carry the banner of technical death metal today. And they deserve it!

The production of the album is also very solid, leaving space for every instrument. I would mention the guitars, which sound piercing and pristine, and also the powerful drums. Maybe the bass is a bit low for my taste, but that's usual in thrash and death metal anyway. But let's talk about the songs!

Charging the Void introduces us in a very powerful way in the style of the album. A very technical and fierce death metal but with tons of epic melodies, really catchy for adventurous listeners. The DiSanto vocals are pure black metal nevertheless, and they are accompanied in this song by splendid clean female choirs. A very solid, progressive and surprising song!

Cygnus Terminal is a bit more melancholic and melodic, but also powerful and it contains incredible drumming from Blake Anderson. LCD is even faster, with brutal lyrics with helps to define the concept of the record. And then comes Mountains Above the sun, a very wise track which introduces variety while being just an introduction for Ultimate Artificer, a song which is a bit more classic death metal, but it contains some of the best riffs of the album.

But hey... The second half of the CD is even better! Pteropticon is one of the most complete songs of the album with its devilish speed and brutal melodies. Is one of the best written tracks. Psycotropia increases the craziness level and it contains one hell of a bass solo. And Pillars of Sand follow the more straightforward line of Ultimate Artificer... At this point we start to feel again the album needs a change.

And then we find Collapse! A semi-acoustic and beautiful track with clean vocals which increases its intensity progressively bringing a beautiful moment when clean vocals and growls unite, making a very original and catchy section. The final part of the song is a bit more conventional, but also great. Another marvelous bass playing from Frank Chin!

Recharging the Void... If I had to introduce Vektor to someone, this would be the chosen song to do that. Over 13 minutes of epic melodies, haunting clean choirs, brutal guitars and incredible riffs. It's arguably the best song of the album and one of the highlights in Vektor's career. Just a must hearing song for every prog metal lover! Just like the rest of the album.

Conclusion: Terminal Redux has a pair of not so brilliant moments where the music can be a bit repetitive. But as a whole is just one of the best metal albums of this decade. Superb songwriting, cryptic concept and impressive instrumental skill which recalls the best technical death metal moments of the 90's while it achieves to sound different and very actual. If you are not scared by extreme metal and black metal vocals, you should give Terminal Redux a chance. It's a very impressive release from which confirms that Vektor are not the future of metal anymore. They are the present!

Thank you for this great experience, guys.

Best Tracks: Charging the Void, Pteropticon, Psycotropia, Collapse, Recharging the Void.

My rating: ****1/2

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