“They say old dogs can’t learn new tricks, but he’s certainly an exception,” boasts Death Ray Vision drummer Colin Conway, referring to the metalcore quintet’s new lead vocalist Keith Bennett. The hardcore, punk, and thrash metal veteran, former Wrecking Crew bassist, and current PanzerBastard singer, is taking on a cleaner style he’s not wholly accustomed to for this “full-time side project,” as Conway puts it.
Along with founding members Mike D’Antonio (Killswitch Engage) on bass, and Pete Cortese (Overcast) on guitars, the polished percussionist recalls their transition from the previous screamer to Bennett. “We had some demos of new material circulating, and it became apparent that things weren’t working out with Jeff (Gard), in terms of fit and creativity—the style was demanding something else. Pete got in touch with Keith and sent over a couple demos to which he quickly put vocal tracks on, and it came out sounding different in a way we felt was more natural.”
Although they’re billed as a hardcore band, Death Ray Vision offer much more texture comparatively, especially in their new full-length, No Mercy From Electric Eyes, out now via Metal Blade Records. “I’d say we’re more melodic with a bit of a darker edge, while other bands in the genre are more sports-like, packed to capacity with aggression and breakdowns,” says Conway, “I like to think we found a good balance in between.”
Finding balance is a minor challenge for a band that features D’Antonio, whose commitment to Killswitch Engage limits his availability. Conway touches on how they manage to keep momentum roaring, occasionally sans a key member: “Sometimes we have to get a fill-in bassist, but it hasn’t been too difficult so far. Pete and Chris (Rosati, guitars) both have families of their own, so there’s more of a challenge there if anything. This band is larger than any other bands of ours, save Killswitch Engage for Mike, and from what I can see, he still puts as much work into this band as he does with them.”
Apocalyptic subject matter litters the band’s lyrical landscape, notably in the rager “Armageddon is the Answer.” The drummer speculates whether or not an Armageddon is as final as it sounds, given theories of advanced civilizations that met their grand demise before ours, “The concept of a ‘great filter’ is interesting to me because it explains the possibility of how through numerous epochs, the knowledge and technology that existed in ancient times was lost, or perhaps kept hidden. At a more profound level, it stokes the question if there’s a universal equalizer that keeps all organisms in check by tempering advancement in favor of adaptation.” There may not be a concept that screams “Death Ray Vision” more than that.
Photo courtesy of Jason Zucco.