Date: August 16th, 2016
Venue: Voodoo Lounge, Dublin
Line-up: Vektor + Cryptic Shift + Animator
While the summer months have been somewhat quiet this year on the gig front there are always those specials shows waiting to rear their heads to those who wait. One of those is Philadelphia’s Vektor who have become the modern poster boys for progressive thrash, and with their new album Terminal Redux released to critical acclaim in May, it seemed like a dream come true for many fans when they announced they would come to Ireland for the first time and play the album in its entirety.
Opening tonight’s proceedings were our own Animator. The bands classic heavy/thrash metal was the perfect way to warm up the show. They kept it mixed up with some high speed thrashers and slower heavy numbers, also ensuring that they threw in a couple of new numbers to promote their upcoming EP The Venom Within. The band had a lot of spunk and energy and that came across in their performance, a band full of smiles goes a long way and the crowd lapped it up. Vocalist James Doughty is a very cool and confident frontman but still the sort of guy you’d find headbanging beside you in the crowd.
UK’s Cryptic Shift was on the more extreme end of things, mixing some death influences with their progressive thrash sound. The whole performance was exhausting to watch, the guys’ playing was relentless and vicious, and it was often hard to keep track of what was happening. Bassist John Riley really knew his way round his instrument; Xander Bradley and fellow baby-faced shredder Henry Parker were fascinating to watch when they let rip on the fretboards. I can’t forget drummer Ryan Sheperson, while his persona was a little more subdued than the guys at the front of the stage, he was no less talented and formed a strong rhythm section with bassist John.
It’s become a trend over the last few years for the older bands to host these anniversary tours celebrating their influential and defining albums. While these are great for fans it sometimes feels like we can be stuck in a rut in terms of newer bands and albums coming forward. Progressive thrashers Vektor made the decision a few weeks ago to play their latest album Terminal Redux in its entirety for their Irish and UK shows. It seems like a risk to rely solely on a bands new material but Vektor had confidence in their music and their confidence is well placed.
A couple of little technical hiccups delayed start-up for a moment or two and with the crowd already reaching high levels of excitement, guitarist Erik Nelson kept their spirits high with a little sing-along of “My Sharona”. Moving quickly onwards, the band opening with “Charging the Void” and the epic album opener became the epic set opener.
It’s simply astonishing that music of this technicality can be recreated by these guys with such ease and comfortability. Many bands of this nature can trap themselves by letting their concentration on what they’re playing take away from them actually performing a show; but luckily Vektor escape this and looked like they were having a ball. Guitarist Erik Nelson looked thrilled to be there, playing along effortlessly with David DiSanto those furious riffs and jaw-dropping solos. Bassist Frank Chin, looking equally as happy, was in the spotlight for a bass solo on “Psychotropia”. David DiSanto’s Chuck Schuldiner-meets-Mille Petrozza screech was somewhat buried in the mix at a few points, something he noticed himself and had corrected. While his screams were on point his clean vocals, used predominantly on “Collapse”, weren’t really up to much to be honest. Despite being pushed to the back of the new bigger stage in the venue it would be hard not to notice the extreme technicality of drummer Blake Anderson.
After the mellow interlude “Mountains above the Sun” the gates were opened with the faster mid-album tracks from “Ultimate Artificer” to “Pillars of Sand” sending an already excitable crowd into overdrive with insane pits and a barrage of crowd surfers. It was only when we got to the slower, more progressive songs at the albums end, “Collapse” and “Recharging the Void”, that we had some respite. “Collapse” had the crowd swap their headbanging for arm swaying and lighters out, it felt like we were in some cheesy 80’s ballad music video, but it was all in good fun. It was the band’s first time in Ireland but the crowd’s warm welcome should hopefully ensure a swift return.
Charging the Void
LCD (Liquid Crystal Disease)
Mountains Above the Sun
Pillars of Sand
Recharging the Void
Hunger for Violence