By: Garviel Loken
Now here is an album where the cover art doesn't do much justice for the music that accompanies it. There's too much similarity between it and so many other 80s thrash record covers; plus the Voivod like font of the band name is an eyesore, but having raged about it for exactly forty-five words, the griping budget has been practically exhausted. To use an old, but apt in this instance, cliché: don't judge a book by its cover.
Vektor delivers in the area that matters most, the music itself. A fifty-two minute construct of progressive thrash and death that at times recalls the glory days of bands such as Death, Kreator, and Voivod, "Outer Isolation" is not an easy beast to tag, catalog, and put in a box. Like a shape shifting and hyper intelligent virus that is constantly mutating and becoming exponentially stronger, the songs unfold with impressive displays of musicianship and songwriting acumen. Songs such as Venus Project and the title track showcase a wide range of tempos and stylistic changes, including galloping thrash riffs that descend flawlessly into jazzy prog dirges or melodic and emotive interludes.
These mad scientists expertly splice just about every subgenre of metal together on "Outer Isolation," and it’s a trip to hear a black metal riff right next to a guitar part best described as old school hardcore. Just as remarkable and a great credit to them as songwriters, this band will throw a great verse or bridge at you, and then not repeat it at all for the rest of the song, when a million other bands would have built the entire song around such a part and played it to death. Vektor is confidently upping the ante within each piece of music, seemingly challenging themselves as well as the listener.
Despite its kaleidoscopic nature, the album maintains a cohesive and relentless pace throughout its length, and never suffers the mid-album loss of momentum that has been the death knell of many a record. Having only one song fewer than five minutes long and several as long as eight to ten minutes, there isn't any fluff or needless noodling. Every note seems to fit precisely to form an undisputed example of how focused and well performed progressive metal is still a force that commands attention.
Indeed, some are paying attention in the case of Vektor, who have delivered an album worthy of being called an opus. Numerous record stores where this reviewer resides have been sold out of this album for a few weeks, and there doesn't appear to be any end of praise for this record in other critical venues. Many thought they could not top or make anything on the level of their previous effort, the incredible "Black Future" album, but "Outer Isolation" goes to toe to toe with that accomplishment and can stand proud beside it.
In conclusion, Vektor has once again shown they are a dedicated, hard working band that can deliver metal that is both bold and unconventional, but also appealing to many different fans across the metal spectrum.
Final Score: 9/10