The sci-fi thrash-metal band Vektor started in Tempe, Arizona, and now calls Philadelphia home. But its origin story truly begins in a rural valley outside Durango, where vocalist and guitarist David DiSanto lived during middle school and high school.
“It was just totally dark, and at night you could look up in the sky and there were so many stars, it was ridiculous,” DiSanto says in a telephone interview. “You can see the milkiness of the Milky Way. On a really clear night, you can even see the Andromeda galaxy off in the distance. Living out under skies like that definitely helped inspire writing the music that I do.”
Indeed, there’s a lot of space between the stars, and a fertile imagination should have no trouble filling it with stories. Enter DiSanto, who was exposed early on to “a bunch of [sci-fi and horror] movies that most parents wouldn’t let their kids go near,” he says, such as The Howling, Blade Runner, Spacehunter and the Mad Max series.
That stuff stuck in DiSanto’s head, alongside an interest in astronomy, a love of heavy, progressive music and a drive to create. By the late 2000s, he was pouring all of those interests into Vektor, playing tons of shows and releasing a couple of well-received albums, 2009’s Black Future and 2011’s Outer Isolation.
In 2012, the band relocated to Philly, and DiSanto went to work on Vektor’s third album with a story in mind, but little idea how it would play out musically. So he did what he’s always done: He started writing.
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“I didn’t set out to do anything, really,” he says. “I wasn’t thinking about making it very big or short or long. I was just writing for the story, and the ideas started growing. In a way, it took on a mind of its own, and I was just kind of there putting everything together in the right places.”
The result: Terminal Redux, a 73-minute space-thrash opera that filters DiSanto’s concept through a mind-bending blend of instrumental wizardry, proggy zigs and zags, blackened howls, beautiful melodies, guest vocals from Philly soul singers, dazzling speed-metal riffs and the pedal-to-the-metal pace of punk rock. In a time when desserts on Instagram are described as “epic,” Terminal Redux truly fulfills the meaning of the word.
“It’s not an easily digestible pop album, by any means,” DiSanto says. “And you know what? We’ve never, ever been that kind of band.”
The story told on Terminal Redux follows a subject (plucked from Outer Isolation’s title track) who has risen to power within the intergalactic Cygnus Regime. His goal is to restore balance in the galaxy by controlling the flow of life and death, so he incites a coup and takes command of the regime’s forces. As for what happens next…well, you’ll just have to listen to find out.
Not that DiSanto expects you to commit to the whole 73-minute journey every time you turn on the album. He’s a realistic guy.
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“It’s okay to pick and choose a couple songs if you’re just driving to work or something,” he says with a chuckle. “I would love for everyone to, at least at one point, sit down with the lyrics and read along. There’s an interplay going on with the lyrics and the music, and I think a lot of the story goes untold if you’re not putting the two together.”
Or if you’re really patient, you can hold out for Terminal Redux: The Movie. Nothing’s in the works, but the album is ripe for such a treatment, and the idea delights DiSanto the film buff.
“People keep saying, ‘Oh, yeah, you should make a movie out of it.’ And I’m like, ‘Hell, yeah!’” he says. “I keep asking people if they know anybody.”
Vektor performs with Black Fast and Necropanther at 9 p.m. on Monday, November 7, at the hi-dive, 303-733-0230, 21+.