Metal, being a musical genre based on extremes, embodies an ongoing war between conservative and radical forces. Or to put it in more-metal terms: the eternal quest for brutal supremacy often means wild oscillations between the wizards-and-ogres squeedly-dee excesses of capital-H Heavy Metal and the back-to-basics spartan march of hardcore. Bay Staters Death Ray Vision, a thrash crew comprising members of numerous local metal luminaries, happened to find their diverse chakras aligned in the direction of stripped-down old-school hardcore — and for now, even though they all have other band obligations that may eventually piss in the punch bowl, they're going for it full steam.
SIGHT UNSEEN “Metal, to me, is all about pushing the extremes, with speed, shredding, brutal vocals,” says Brian Fair (third from left, with Pete Cortese, Zach Wells, Mike D’Antonio, and Colin Conway).
Death Ray Vision were informally willed into being by erstwhile Shadows Fall vocalist Brian Fair and Killswitch Engage bassist Mike D'Antonio, with the idea that they would zig against the zag of the intricate melodic metal of their meal-ticket gigs. "With the Shads, we try to infuse a lot of melody and musicianship," explains Fair, "whereas with Death Ray, it's all about non-stop energy. You know, just trying to recapture the fun I remember of going to hardcore shows back in the day."
Fair and D'Antonio have history that goes beyond shared bills with their current bands: together with guitarist Pete Cortese (also in Death Ray Vision), they made up three-fifths of early-'90s Boston metalcore pioneers Overcast. But don't mistake this new project for Overcast nostalgia — if anything, Death Ray Vision's sharp attack is the uncharted territory of the thrash/hardcore world that Overcast stood somewhat outside of. "When we did Overcast," says Fair, "we were really young and really experimental with the sound, trying to push things in weird directions. To try to force that kind of thing now would have been impossible. Instead, we kind of went in the total opposite direction. People who hear this expecting big melodic choruses like Killswitch or Overcast, it's like, 'Nope!' It's minute-and-a-half hardcore, just super-fast and aggressive."
The band formed super-fast as well, going from a few unstructured song ideas to a quickly recorded five-song EP (the self-released Get Lost or Get Dead) in just a few months. On this 14-minute effort, the inspired and impulsive energy is infectious, from the stun-gun crack of opener "Shattered Frames" to the crushing breakdown crunch of closer "Drown the Light." Filled with frantic screams and dual pick-squealed frenzy (courtesy of Cortese and his guit-sparring partner, Born of Fire impresario Zack Wells, with Colin Conway on drums), it's over before you know what hit you, like the best hardcore EPs of yore.
But don't write Death Ray Vision off as just a lame throwback. "There's definitely influences of old-school hardcore, but we want to push it," Fair points out. "One thing we want to not do is add in anything extra. We want everything just to be quick punches to the face."
: Music Features
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