It doesn’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear.
Often side-projects that function as de facto super groups can have a tendency of either sounding too much like the primary bands of those involved or make a blatant effort not to do so. Indeed, it is arguably more the exception that such a fold of musicians will strike up a balanced approach that plays into the basic stylistic niches that they have planted their flags on without sounding like a carbon copy thereof, and the early 2010s saw the construction of such a collaboration in hardcore-infused modern thrash metal quintet Death Ray Vision. Though originally billed as an outfit boasting the talents of Shadows Fall vocalist Brian Fair, bassist and co-founder of Killswitch Engage Mike D’Antonio and several other players with backgrounds in the Massachusetts metalcore scene, the subsequent exodus of Fair and a couple other lineup shifts have seen this project’s core blend of groove-driven modern thrash with heavy hardcore tendencies endure and continue to expand, with their latest studio entry No Mercy From Electric Eyes being their most intense effort to date.
Given the dystopian and futuristic connotations of the title, this is naturally an album that showcases an unapologetic display of raw metallic aggression with a decidedly modern edge while flying the flags of discontent. Moments resembling the vintage grooves of Pantera and the thrashing ferocity of Sepultura are laced into a template that is still reminiscent of the harmonically consonant and Gothenburg-influenced stylings of D’Antonio’s flagship project Killswitch Engage and several other prominent New England contemporary outfits that made their mark during the 2000s metalcore craze, albeit in a more stripped down and gritty fashion. For his part, newly acquired lead vocalist Keith Bennett sticks mostly to a mid-ranged gravely shout that recalls the 90s groove/thrash exploits of Pro-Pain, often having a peculiarly southern twang to his delivery which is interesting coming from a Boston native. But what really sells this album is the interesting blend of riff work that rides on top of a thunderous battery from the rhythm section, often splitting the difference between 90s groove/thrash and a more technically involved presentation that leans into the swifter end of the melodic death metal spectrum.
Though sporting a reasonably nuanced mixture of NWOAHM influences and picking its plays pretty methodically, the general flavor of this album is a straight shot of unrelenting rage, basically going heavier than Shadows Fall but stopping just shy of Lamb Of God territory. Break out speed machines like the opening beast of an anthem “Behead The King” and riff happy crusher “Praise The War Machine” stand out as being the more varied and involved displays of the band’s metallic proclivities, trading blows with similarly ambitious though more uniform expressions of fury like the southern metal-tinged groove fest “Armageddon Is The Answer” and the almost 100% faithful Bay Area emulation “Crawl Forth The Cowards” (which also features a wickedly memorable guitar solo exchange towards the end), culminating in the highlight moments of a generally consistent listen. Then again, one would be remiss not to mention the mid-paced, Seasons In The Abyss-like swagger of “Reaper”, let alone the high octane crossover mayhem of shorter bangers like “From The Rafters” and “O Great Destroyer”, which crush about as hard as a 20 ton anvil.
This is the sort of album that checks all of the boxes of a lean, mean, modern thrashing machine, but tends to somewhat lose its punch after successive listening due to the generally one-dimensional flavor of the vocals and the lack of any really noticeable dynamic contrast in the arrangement. It’s basically all amps play on 11 from beginning to end, which stands in stark contrast to much of the influences that it draws upon, even that of stripped down groove/thrash albums that have been the staple of Lamb Of God since the mid-2000s. Much of this likely rests on Bennett needing some more time to fully gel with the rest of the band, though compared to some of the noteworthy work that Killswitch Engage put out with Howard Jones at the helm, it also occasionally feels like the rest of the band is holding back a bit on the sonic possibilities that they could potentially explore with this style. Overall a solid listen, but something that works best in moderate doses.
Released By: Metal Blade Records
Release Date: June 30th, 2023
Genre: Thrash Metal / Hardcore
- Keith Bennett / Vocals
- Chris Rosati / Guitar, vocals
- Pete Cortese / Guitar
- Mike D’Antonio / Bass
- Colin Conway / Drums
No Mercy From Electric Eyes Track-Listing:
1. New Lords Of Light
2. Saturn Devouring His Young
3. This Hell is Mine
5. Right Here In The Dark
6. Not by Blood, But by Words
7. Tyrants Weep Alone
Order No Mercy From Electric Eyes at THIS LOCATION.
One-time collaboration between alumni of Killswitch Engage and Shadows Fall members turned full-fledged modern thrash machine Death Ray Vision return from a 5 year studio holiday to deliver a hardcore-infused fist to the gut on their 3rd and latest studio outing