Last Wednesday offered the alarming news that sci-fi thrashers Vektor, once heralded as a band set to “conquer metal”, were returning to the fold four years after three members all quit simultaneously. For many people in the announcement’s comments section, this was seemingly a cause for celebration – so what’s the problem? Well frontman David DiSanto has a history of violent abuse.
Controversy first ensued in June 2019 when news broke that Disanto’s then-wife Katy had accused her husband of consistent violence and abusive behaviour. This should, of course, be the end of his career as a musician, but fans of the band have seemingly rushed to support him and his newly announced members (who incidentally should themselves be ashamed of associating with such a person). This is disappointing, but anyone even vaguely familiar with the metal scene will also be familiar with the rampant misogyny within it, and won’t be surprised.
So how has he been able to return? For one thing, metal publications continued to treat DiSanto’s actions as “alleged” despite video evidence of violent abuse (the original posts are not available, but the video can be viewed here CW: verbal and physical abuse). This is especially dangerous considering how quick people in the scene often are to err on the side of the accused, claiming that false allegations are common, when in reality they are far from the epidemic they are perceived to be. False rape and abuse claims are admittedly hard to quantify because, due to the pressure and victim-blaming endured by survivors, not many assaults are even reported to the authorities. However, a 2013 Crown Prosecution Service report in the UK compared rape prosecutions with prosecutions for making a false claim, and found that fewer than 1% of rape prosecutions were false claim charges.
In a statement that followed the news, DiSanto admitted no wrongdoing (beyond attempts to trivialise the events) and tried to establish himself as the victim, claiming Katy had “destroyed this entire band”. He even had the audacity to call the claims false, despite the aforementioned video evidence circulating widely online. This is especially pertinent as many fans seem ready to offer him a second chance despite DiSanto having shown absolutely no signs of remorse thus far.
Less than a year ago the band seemed to be dead and buried, and we did in fact see the best of the metal scene as fans rallied to support Katy, with a GoFundMe campaign launched to help with her legal fees surpassing its goal of $4500.
But this has only made Vektor’s return all the more disappointing. It shows that DiSanto believes he still has the support to make the band’s return worthwhile, and sadly, he isn’t wrong. The band still have a sizeable following, with over 70,000 Facebook likes and literally thousands of positive responses to the news that the band is returning. They have even just received backing from booking and management agency District 19, who will offer the band worldwide management and European bookings. The fact that countless talented underground artists will never reach that stage, whilst Vektor can achieve it even after DiSanto’s actions, is a damning indictment of the state of the metal scene.
It’s also not an isolated incident. In fact it acts as yet another example of a wider issue within the music industry. We’ve seen accusations against Tool’s Maynard James Keenan swept under the rug, with none of the major music publications directly questioning him about them during the band’s last press cycle, and Jef Whitehead’s projects have continued to receive support even after he was charged with aggravated domestic battery (and still named the Leviathan album subsequent to his prosecution True Traitor, True Whore) – simply because he asserts his innocence and fans would rather believe him than his accuser and the jury that found him guilty.
It doesn’t help that in many instances the press often slyly avoids the initial accusation, reporting only on the subsequent denial/apology, and thus getting clicks off the controversy without ever being seen to accuse anyone of anything. The press, not to mention labels that release these bands’ music, stand to profit from staying quiet or, worse, backing these artists. So that’s exactly what they do, enabling and giving a platform to people who have caused harm in the process.
“Metal is supposed to shock and offend,” some will surely attest as they defend their decision to support art made by shitty people. But this disgustingly common line puts the blame on the offended, suggesting that if you take offence to something then that’s on you – you obviously just don’t “get” the genre. It’s an example of gatekeeping that excludes those offended by violence – which, naturally, is going to be a lot of people. Surely in a world in which domestic abuse is such a widespread issue, with America’s National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) reporting that nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States alone, it would be more controversial for metal, which fans often attest is a rebellious genre, to speak up for those suffering and denounce perpetrators of abuse.
So let’s do that. If you’re excited about Vektor’s return, step back and think about what impact supporting a known abuser could have. There’s more than enough quality metal out there. We don’t need Vektor.
Bands you can listen to instead of Vektor:
Blending an old-school attitude with a youthful energy, this Colorado quartet are one of the most exciting and refreshing bands in the modern metal scene. Rather than wasting your time with needless theatrics, they get straight down to brass tacks, riffing first and asking questions later. The results are tight, concise songs that are both visceral and engaging, drawing from thrash, melodeath and at times black metal to bolster their ruthless assault.
If you thought Vektor’s music was out-there, you haven’t heard anything yet. The frenzied assaults spewed forth by this Seattle ensemble are ridiculously fun, roaring forward with the antagonistic energy of thrash whilst obliterating like guttural, grotesque death metal. Latest album Interdimensional Invocations is an absolute must.
If you’re missing Vektor’s aesthetics as well as their particular strain of thrash, then Italian outfit Vexovoid, who have in the past even been criticised for their likeness to Vektor, offer something very similar. Like Vektor, they seemingly take a lot of influence from Canadian legends Voivod, with a sci-fi-influenced take on thrash metal that’s subtly progressive without losing any of the genre’s potency.
One of the US’s most thrilling tech-thrash bands out there, Black Fast offer extreme metal of the highest calibre, with a style that refuses to rest on its laurels. Their material touches on black metal and death metal when it feels the need, using thrash as a mere building block to build something bigger, bolder and better.
This UK ensemble’s latest album may kick off with a ridiculously good 26-minute epic, but there’s nothing slow or laborious about their mind-melting blend of thrashy hyper-blasts and turbulent death metal. Their music feels like a cosmic assault on the senses, and deserves to be considered amongst the best and most dynamic extreme metal currently in circulation.
If you or someone you know has been affected by these issues, UK readers should contact the National Domestic Abuse Helpline for free on 0808 2000 247. If you’re in the US, call the National Domestic Abuse Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.
Please consider donating to Women’s Aid here to help survivors of abuse.
Words: George Parr