Life Of Agony putting out new music is cause for celebration. Life Of Agony putting out new music that’s a continuation of the story from River Runs Red, though? That’s cause for taking the whole week off to commemorate the occasion and just rawk the fuck out.
Life Of Agony has been on a roll since 2017’s A Place Where There’s No More Pain so it was already an exciting bit of news when they announced a new album was coming this year. But no one could have imagined that said album was going to be a concept album detailing what became of the young man who was the focus of RRR. But if you’re looking for RRR pt.2 then you’re SOL, my friend. What you have instead is a solid, mature concept record continuing the spirit of the original with a band that sounds more focused, more determined, and more revitalized than ever before.
Starting with “Prelude” which picks up immediately following where RRR ended, Life Of Agony soon kick into “Scars” to deliver a new classic jam filled with those huge choruses and driving riffs fans have come to expect from the band. Things get even more interesting when “Black Heart” enters next with drummer Veronica Bellino (Making her recorded debut with the band here) battering away as Joey Z fuels the fire with a flurry of furious riffs. Mina Caputo’s already iconic pipes deliver these ferociously swooping verses and choruses which take the maturity of Ugly and mesh that with the attitude of RRR.
I liked “Scars” when it was released as the first single from the record. I really did. But it was “Lay Down” that really upped my excitement for the record. From the HUGE chorus to the echoes of “Through And Through” with the intent and an unrelenting urgency throughout, “Lay Down” is modern LOA at its’ best.
“Then” reveals what happened to RRR‘s protagonist with same same kind of anxiety that permeated through the debut before “Empty Hole” starts like a pummeler then turns into something that’d easily fit alongside the best from Ugly with its’ focused songwriting, intricate song structures, and another stand out performance from Bellino with Alan Robert’s unmistakable bass rumbling underneath.
“My Way Out” provides a concentrated attack until “Eliminate” drops and the killer rhythm section of Robert and Bellino once again slays. Robert and Joey Z are a veritable machine at this point and the LOA bus, in general, has been so driven lately but there’s never been a drum performance as inspired as the one Bellino delivers here (And as I type this, the scorching conclusion hits with Joey Z’s absolute shredfest taking over with Caputo’s soaring performance).
“Once Below”captures a Grunge vibe but with a ’90’s-style Hardcore mentality especially that growl that accompanies Caputo’s soaring lines in the chorus while “Stone” is this beautiful beast encapsulating the Life Of Agony aesthetic perfectly: pummeling riffs, inherent groove, and absolute emotion. Caputo’s vox are positively divine and Joey Z, not to be outdone, lays a solid foundation with some vicious shredding which come at listeners like a jackhammer.
“Weight Of The World” experiments with new sounds but relies on a tried and true formula to create one of the coolest sounding modern LOA jams. Then there’s “I Surrender” which keeps that experimental trend going within a song that is sonically compelling and wholly different from the rest of the album AND the rest of the band’s catalog. It’s an epic closing to, dare I say, the ultimate Life Of Agony album as this gorgeous arrangement culminates with a lush string section and haunting group vocals.
The Sound Of Scars continues the story of River Runs Red on October 11th thanks to Napalm Records. Pre-orders are live now and can be gotten by clicking here. For more on Life Of Agony, including upcoming tour dates kicking off in New Bedford’s The Vault, follow the band on the socials by clicking here and here.