If I said to you that music was “birthed at the juncture where hardcore and punk meet metal” (a line I’ve stolen from the press release that came with “No Mercy From Electric Eyes”), you’d be forgiven if you thought, as I did, that you’d be listening to some kind of Hatebreed record. Death Ray Vision, however, do things a bit differently. Yes, it’s heavy, and yes, it’s pissed off, but for all that, it’s more accessible than you might expect.
In contrast to many of their peers, hooks are huge, riffs are here, and they rock. But then, sometimes, just sometimes, there’s a visceral anger that takes over. Notably angrier than their other stuff, and with good cause. If you’ve looked at the news or, worse, read the comments on social media from people – if you aren’t angry, you’re already dead, surely. Or a Tory, and therefore brain-dead (for US readers, think more right-wing than the Tea Party, with a Greed Is Good mantra). The new singer, Keith Bennett, is the reason, in the main. Ex of Panzerbastard, he is a man who “should have been dead” and reckons he’s “here for a reason” and he’s here to use his second chance.
On the standout track “From The Rafters,” there’s a vicious condemnation of the police: “let them know brutality, when you cease to protect and to serve, you will see in the end you’ll get what you deserve.” As well as being a brilliant song, it encapsulates the very working-class anger that this record lasers in on.
Opener “Behead The King” hits you with a breakdown that feels like a relentless beatdown, unleashing a surge of energy. “Unholy Water” sees Bennett reckon it “sets me up into a rage” and backs it up with its intensity and aggression. “Premature Evisceration” wastes no time and delivers 46 seconds of sheer violence.
In “Praise The War Machine,” Death Ray Vision takes aim at “dictators, thieves, and whores”, critiquing the modern society that tries to keep us down, making money off our misery while ensuring we know our place. “Broken Hands of God” (featuring original singer Brian Fair) is relentless in its assault, while “An Iron Age” maintains the ferocity with its unyielding sound. “Armageddon Is The Answer” slows things down and makes a singalong of “humanity is cancer’.
“Crawl Forth The Cowards”, from where the title comes, showcases great slabs of guitar and delivers a proper metal, and the guitar from Chris Rosati and Pete Cortese is exceptional (the band is completed by rhythm section, Mike D’Antonio – also of Killswitch Engage on bass and Colin Conway drums).
The closing “End Me,” is a track that channels pent-up frustration and unleashes it in the form of a suicide note, even for this it is harrowing.
“No Mercy From Electric Eyes” goes beyond expectations, and deserves to be thought of as one of the best – perhaps the best – records of its type so far this year.