Life Of Agony – River Runs Red

Life Of Agony – River Runs Red

Life Of Agony – River Runs Red

River Runs Red is the cult-classic debut full-length studio album by the underrated, unique New York band Life Of Agony. It was produced by Josh Silver and released in 1993 through Roadrunner Records.

The album is a concept album which tells the story of a confused and disillusioned young man with low self-worth and a poor support network, who ultimately decides to commit suicide. Its pretty grim, dark, weighty stuff. The story really sucks you in, and you find yourself hoping its not going to end in tragedy.

Musically, this album is a pretty interesting hybrid. There’s touches of Thrash Metal, Doom Metal, NY Hardcore and a big Type-O Negative influence at the same time. At times its almost sort of like Sick Of It All doing a St Vitus cover song, with Pete Steele on vocals. Not really, but that’s a ballpark idea of what to expect.

The whole thing is chocked full of pummeling double-kicks and gang vocals, big fat dirty riffs, inventive drumming, really unique and interesting vocal performances and bucketloads of catchy hooks.

Album highlights include the speedy Title Track, the absolutely crushing opener “This Time” and the bitter introspective “Bad Seed.” If you wonder whether the album is for you or not, check out those three! That said, the whole album is rock solid, consistent from start to finish, and there’s no messing with tracks like “These Eyes” or “Method Of Groove” either. The only thing you’ll find yourself skipping are the three additional atmospheric tracks (each named after a day of the week) that provide the story but aren’t songs. Awesome for when you sit down and listen to it as a story, but missable if you just want to be bludgeoned by heavy music.

Overall; this album is an absolute monster. Relentlessly catchy, full of crushing riffs, a dynamic mix of speed and slow, powerful vocals and an interesting story. It’s a pretty unique record that no other band sounds like (and the band themselves would never repeat stylistically) and as long as you aren’t upset that it doesn’t fit neatly into one confined box, this album just gives and gives. It’s a grower, and the more spins you put in, the more magic you get back. In short – highly recommended.

Life Of Agony – Ugly Review

Life Of Agony – Ugly

Life Of Agony – Ugly

1995’s Ugly is the second full-length studio album by the New York band Life Of Agony. It was produced by Steve Thompson and released through Roadrunner Records.

It must have been damn hard to follow up their amazing, one-of-a-kind, conceptual, brutal debut album River Runs Red, and there are a segment of fans who argue they never adequately did, but for me, this album is an absolutely stormer too.

Musically, this album is a pretty interesting hybrid. Its got a touch of Ross Robinson Nu Metal flavour in the way some of the riffs work, its still got a hangover of the band’s NYHC roots but dialled back a bit, there’s touches of Doom, Stoner and Grunge in there at times but not enough to take over the whole album. It’s a pretty unique beast, and there’s plenty of variety on there to further add to the melting pot.

The lyrics on this album are absolutely brilliant. Kind of intense and emotionally weighty. There are topics of disillusionment, alienation, isolation, identity crisis, quarter-life crisis, complex relationships with family members and other such introspection. I know some people hate anything personal and deem anything like this to be “too emo” but in context and in and of itself, the lyrical quality of this album is sky high. Considering the life course of Keith (now Mina) Caputo, the lyrics just have such power and import and really “speak to you.” Topped off with really powerful, evocative and harrowing vocal performances that really project the message of the lyrics, its pretty intense stuff.

Songs like “Lost At 22,” “Damned If I Do” and “How It Would Be” all fell pretty damn profound. It also helps that the musical quality of the album is equally high. “Fears” is absolutely crushing, “Drained” has serious hooks, and “I Regret” feels like a hit single.

The album ends surprisingly with a cover of Simple Minds “(Don’t You) Forget About Me” which you will likely recognize from the movie The Breakfast Club. It’s a pretty straight cover too, no drastic reworking. It feels a bit gimmicky to me, but not enough to spoil the record.

Overall; this is a superbly well-written, interesting and affecting album with some brilliant performances and a lot to offer. If you want it to sound more like Biohazard, Madball and Sick Of It All then the change in musical direction might be a bit off-putting and likewise if you’ve always hated anything “alternative” then perhaps steer clear, but if “a good song is a good song no matter what genre” to you, and you don’t mind the idea of emotionally draining lyrics, then I highly recommend you check out this record.