Keith Bennett: Vocals
Chris Rosati: Guitar / Vocals
Pete Cortese: Guitar
Mike D'Antonio: Bass
Colin Conway: Drums
Birthed at the juncture where hardcore and punk meet metal, Death Ray Vision hit their stride with the soon to be classic third full-length, No Mercy From Electric Eyes. "Every record we get a little more experimental, flirting with different styles and feels, and we want to keep expanding on that," says guitarist and founding member Pete Cortese. "My favorite element of this band is the creative freedom, not being painted into a corner, and I like to think at the end everything still sounds like us." This very much stands true on No Mercy From Electric Eyes, which holds onto the core DRV sound while pushing in new directions, creating their most immersive release to date.
Commencing writing in late 2018 following a tour with Killswitch Engage - who share bassist Mike D'Antonio with DRV - the band had a lot of creative momentum still burning following that year's Negative Mental Attitude. It may have taken some time to realize the record due to the members' other commitments, but the results demonstrate that they are playing at the top of their game. "We're a lot more cohesive as a band after playing together for so many years, and we've gotten better at songwriting and collaborating to bring out the best in everyone's ideas," says Cortese. They are also taking more chances, such as on "Armageddon Is The Answer" with its bouncing, swinging grooves and chunky yet haunting climactic passages.
A further new dimension affecting the sound is the addition of vocalist Keith Bennett to the band's ranks, who the existing members knew would be the perfect fit from his time with notable acts Wrecking Crew, Panzerbastard (both of whom shared the stage with Cortese and D'Antonio's other band Overcast) and Ramallah. "Keith brings a whole lot of piss and vinegar, with a side of street cred. He brought a new sense of enthusiasm and excitement and got us even more fired up to make a great record," says Cortese. Guitarist Chris Rosati adds, "creatively speaking, Keith is a force of nature. His ability to get inside a new song and quickly come up with vocals and lyrics is really something to witness."
Lyrically, No Mercy From Electric Eyes is a more politically charged record than their previous releases - "it's more pissed off, and anyone paying attention to the state of the world can understand why," says Cortese - but it's also deeply personal for Bennett. "Every word I'm singing is from the heart," says the vocalist. "I should have been dead a few years ago, I'm here for a reason. These lyrics are a direct line to how I feel, how I live, what I see." They cover a lot of ground across the record's twelve tracks, with "From The Rafters" a condemnation of police brutality, particularly how it is disproportionately biased towards people of color, while "Behead the King" is about the helplessness you feel watching the world burn around you and being powerless to do anything about it. Emotive closer "End Me" is "basically a suicide note combined with a farewell letter that could be meant for either a very specific person or booze and drugs," says Bennett. "Both came close to destroying me. Neither did."
When it came to tracking, drummer Colin Conway laid down his parts at Mad Oak studio with long time associate Benny Grotto, while everything else was recorded, engineered and produced by Rosati at his home studio, Mass Metal Studios. "The sessions couldn't have gone better," says Rosati. "Recording sessions are definitely more laidback when you're not paying for limited time in a studio. Still, we definitely kept to a tight schedule and deadline, but overall, everything felt fun and casual, which I think fostered a super-creative environment." While all members pushed themselves to deliver their best performances, it was a particularly poignant process for Bennett. "This was the hardest that I have ever worked on making a record. Chris pushed me to go beyond anything I thought I was capable of. I'm coming from a very different world: raw, DIY and ugly. Chris helped me be more confident about melody and cleaner singing. It opened up so much more emotion and honesty in my delivery and I'm grateful for him." The record also features a guest spot from original DRV vocalist Brian Fair, who laid down a verse on "Broken Hands Of God." "Brian showed up ready to wage war on that microphone - the dude nailed everything in less than 20 minutes!" Rosati enthuses.
The record is wrapped up with a title drawn from the lyrics of one of the tracks - Cortese pointing out that it makes perfect sense given their band name - and vivid artwork courtesy of D'Antonio, which according to the bassist stems from the idea "of 'being under the thumb of an ethereal overlord'. The fear of knowing the 'master' is watching your every move, from a short distance away. In this world, only obedience is accepted and absolutely no mercy is given to those who fail." Having poured so much of their hearts and souls into No Mercy From Electric Eyes, the band hope to play the songs live as much as possible, and have aspirations of touring outside of the US for the first time, but at the end of the day they are proud of what they have achieved and believe they are worth giving a damn about, because they give a damn about everything they do. "We made a great record that doesn't sound like many contemporary metal bands," says Cortese. "It's heavy as fuck without having to rely on drop Z tuning, and it's a great balance of aggressive and melodic without sounding contrived."