American band Vektor are razing Europe this summer, traveling across the continent with their breakneck-speed technical thrash. On Friday, 19th August, they played the Little Devil Bar in Tilburg, a tiny pub of great renown where many bands stop through on their pilgrimage through Europe. Opening for Vektor were young Dutch thrash band Villainy. These lads play a combination of a little bit of everything, all bolted onto a thrash metal base. Incense on the back of the stage befogged the packed crowd into a nice atmosphere as the band set up their punching drums.
Almost punky, hard-edged thrash with rough screamed vocals were interspaced with more melodic and even soundscapey interludes that gave the listener a breather. Once the excellently-executed drums kicked in, the momentum was back driving us forward through the music. The music generally has a dark, almost-doom metal feel, overbearing and oppressive, which combined with the thrash edge made for a very interesting mix. Even though the band has this eclectic mix of influences and sound, it shines mostly in its simplicity of songwriting and not pretending to be more than it is.
After a brief interlude in which most the crowd stay put, protecting their spots near the front of the small stage of the sold-out bar, Vektor took the stage. Announcing they will be playing most of their latest album, they wasted little time diving right into it. The first thing you notice at a Vektor gig really is the pace of the music, which is crazy fast and very driving. Again we had a most excellent drummer driving the whole thing forward and making it almost impossible to stand still, which is something none in the first row did. The guitar melodies reminded me of Atari-type tunes, with a quick procession of notes up and down the scales, and amazingly not a single note was missed anywhere.
The general feeling is a little bewildering and nervous, but the band’s excellent musicianship means they manage to keep things very catchy and keep the listener from drowning in a torrent of notes and beats. The occasional melodic intro or interlude offered a breather even more needed than with Villainy. Then there’s the vocals, which sound like they aren’t even human anymore –high, scratchy screaming that sounds like some sort of aggressive alien species; the music puts you in the mind of visiting a barren, hostile, alien planet that is choked in red dust. The temperature in the small room rose until nearly at the end of their set, suddenly everything goes dark; the power has proven unable to keep up with the heat this band brings and because they were only a short while removed from their set ending, the band decided call it a night and come join their adoring fans for a few beers in the front.
The fans visited two completely different worlds and versions of thrash in the modern sense –one young band still looking to find their voice and one that clearly knows where they want to transport us. Though the end was sudden and unexpected, the gig was intimate –something bigger venues would not be able to offer.