Combining both the fictional with the scientific has been the staple of the make up of some of our best fiction. Used perhaps as a means of escape from the mundane routine of daily life, there is a certain quality that attracts people to the idea of Sci-Fi. Not wanting to remain solely in the medium of film, Metal in particular has welcomed this subgenre with open arms. Releasing their brand new album Terminal Redux this May, Vektor are among the very select few who have mastered not only the art of the synthesis of a hugely charged concept with some of the most inspired music that will take you on a journey like no other this year. Performing at this year’s Bloodstock Festival we were able to speak with singer and guitarist David DiSanto to show us his wonderful world of Cygnus.
You can listen to the full unedited interview in our Soundcloud file below or ready the full transcript underneath.
I have with me the main man from Vektor.
From planet, Redux!
Omicron Persei 8 yeah!
How are you man?
Are you excited to be playing the Sophie Lancaster Stage later on?
I’m stoked man! The first time in the UK was Camden Underworld, which was ridiculously awesome. It was a crazy show. Probably one of the best, it was the best on that tour. As far as energy and all the people were getting way stoked, so I’m excited to play here again.
So tell us about Terminal Redux. What is the storyline, this is a crazy, crazy concept.
Basically, I’ll try and condense it. The lone astronaut from Outer Isolation, the title track, it explains his story basically. He was sentenced into an isolation testing program as a punishment and he ends up finding this molecule in space that extends life, almost indefinitely. He basically brings that molecule back to this large space regime called Cygnus. He ends up taking this regime over, its basically like his goal is to create balance within life and death and existence. All areas of our human existence, what we touch and what we do. The end goal is that he finds out that, that’s just not people’s place in the universe. To control nature and try to create balance.
Like to play god basically?
Its impossible for us because every time we try and do something helpful it just destroys something else.
What about “Charging The Void” does that mean literally, attacking the void or does it mean charging up.
Well its a double meaning! Literally, he is charging through the void in the spaceship and there is a loose kind of concept within the album on the bookends of “Charging The Void” and “Re-Charging The Void” and it talks about the ebb and flow of life and death and essentially in my head there is this flow between life and death. For us to live there must be death, even the plants we eat, there is this flow. So the whole concept itself is about balance, “Charging The Void”, “Re-charging The Void” its just getting ready for the next phase. In the beginning he’s bringing all this life to Cygnus regime and in the end basically self destructing the huge Cygnus terminal and bringing balance to give back to nature.
Did you want to echo that, I know there are a couple of, I would call them motifs that reappear in the guitar lines. Melodies and things like that…
Yeah there’s a lot of little hints and things that go throughout the album and we try to bring back certain phrasings or concepts. Kind of emphasise certain points within the deeper meaning of the story.
What made you decide to have a choir in there as well?
I dunno man! It just popped in my head.
It just comes out of nowhere!
It might have been partly due to living in Philadelphia being surrounded by all the soul singers. It just popped into my head one day and I heard that “Oh weah, oh weah ooh”. I just started piecing it together and thought “Man, that could come across like really cheesy or really epic.” I just thought lets do this and lets do it right.
Get the blastbeats right!
Yeah haha! When we started tracking that it was probably the only time I smiled the whole time we were recording it.
Its also incredibly technical, the kind of music that you guys play. Is that something that you wanted to do from the get go, to make it quite fast and technical?
I think its just to keep it interesting as far as writing. Kind of maintaining, its more fun for me if its a little bit challenging to write, rather than just holding out chords, making up vocal phrasings over that. I like the interval play of all the instruments, I like the density but at the same time I don’t like overly technical music. There’s a lot of Death Metal, Tech Death, I can’t even listen to it. Its just too much, I try to maintain that balance of keepin it rockin’ whilst having that element of technicality.
I think its got quite an organic sound, the way that you recorded it? It sounds like the eighties.
Well we’re just straight forward with what we do. Not a lot of effects, we let the riffs talk, just because we’re a Sci-Fi Thrash band, or Sci-Fi Metal band. We really don’t have a lot of Sci-Fi effects, there’s no crazy synth lines or anything like that, no phasers, just straightforward Metal.
Are you a big fan of Death? I can hear The Sound of Perseverance era kind of vocals.
Yeah, for sure man! Originally when I first started Vektor, my main influence was Schmier from Destruction. So I’ve got a little bit of that in me but I think just as I grow older my voice is naturally heading more into the Death realm.
Is it difficult to switch from the “Death Realm” to the kind of more subtle, clean sections?
Yeah like on the last one, the last songs? It just gives me a break during those parts.
That’s why you wrote it.
You mentioned Cygnus is that a subtle nod to Rush?
Yes! When I was fifteen, the song “Hemispheres” that was what started this whole like thought avalanche that led to the concept. It was “Hemispheres” with that line “But we shall call you Cygnus the god of balance, you shall be”. Its just been echoing around and its always intrigued me. Like four or five years ago, I started doing research into Cygnus, that whole element about controlling life and death. Cygnus sits atop the spiral arm and the ancient peoples once thought that tthat spiral arm of our galaxy was a river of souls and Cygnus was the ruler. So I just made Cygnus into an actualy form rather than a metaphorical kind of thing. Its both.
What about the artwork, how did you guys come up with that? Is that a painting?
It was just me describing the last scene of the album to artist. Its the ship getting ready to self destruct flying back into the exploded star, that big skull nebula. Adam Burke is amazing.
It looks absolutely fantastic, especially on vinyl!
Obviously you’re a big fan of concept albums, what would you say is some of your favourite concept albums?
I don’t have a lot of favourites but my number one all time favourite concept album is Emperor put out the album Prometheus : The Discipline of the Fire and Demise, that album for me is just perfect technical Black Metal. There’s so many layers both lyrically musically.
What about personal influences, you’re a lyricist as well, as a lyricist, where do you lie from that? Is it more film or is it more stories?
Honestly its kind of, I have a degree in biology, I took a bunch of astronomy classes. I have always been into Sci-Fi films mostly, a little bit of books but not too much but as far as when I am writing lyrics I just take science and that’s enough to inspire me. Just watching The Cosmos or some show like Through The Wormhole it just kind of gets my brain going, then I just put a bit of human philosophy behind it.
A lot of the stuff that you’ve written in Terminal Redux is it scientifically accurate?
This album in particular is more fantastical. There are some elements of bending space for quicker travel but that’s just totally crazy.
Over the last six months to a year has there been an album that you have been digging, something that has really caught on.
I know I have been listening to something new… Have I? Hahaha. Algebra – Polymorph. Algebra is the band, Polymorph is the album. It came out pretty recent but not too recent. Antichrist – Forbidden World is a new goodie, Noisem stuff is really cool. I’m sure there’s others but as far as new stuff!
Vektor’s brand new album is out now via Earache Records.