Back in 1993, Brooklyn, New York based band Life of Agony made a massive first impression with their debut album River Runs Red. A concept album, you were thrust into the world of a character facing suicide, while also exploring themes of abuse, alcoholism, and abandonment. A heavy piece of work contextually, Life of Agony kept it coming through albums such as 1995’s Ugly and more recently 2017’s A Place Where There’s No More Pain. Now 30 years since forming back in 1989, the band comes full circle to their original concept album with the highly-anticipated The Sound of Scars.
Set for release on Friday, October 11th through Napalm Records, their sixth overall studio album will serve as the second chapter to the much beloved River Runs Red. Featuring production/mixing from Grammy Award-winning Producer Sylvia Massy (Tool, Johnny Cash), co-production by Life of Agony’s very own Joey Z, while Howie Weinberg (Metallica, Nirvana) handled mastering duties, it has all the right ingredients for success.
Seeing original bandmates Mina Caputo (vocals), Allan Robert (bass), the aforementioned Joey Z (guitar), along with Veronica Bellino (drums), as a whole the album certainly lives up to its title. Like always, Life of Agony tap into some serious topics, but this time around they seem even more severe over the course of 14 tracks, 4 of which are interludes. Wholly about the toughest moments in life, the ones that could scar you forever, destroy a life, and even have some committing suicide, tracks like the intense lead single “Scars,” emotional “Lay Down,” and powerfully-charged “My Way Out” really paint a vivid picture. That said, while the lyrics tell a story of feeling hopeless, frustrated, or simply misplaced, the instrumental arrangements match the words in a fitting fashion with tight, heavy guitar grooves, punchy drums, and a thick bottom-end of bass.
Which leads us to one of the most pronounced aspects of Life of Agony: the vocals. Fortunately for long-time fans Caputo does not let you down while showcasing an impeccable ability to convey feelings of pain and anger in her voice that match the fast rhythms, shaking you at the core. And yet not light-hearted at all, the album is still quite catchy. Caputo’s vocals are mainly clean, but still she belts out a much needed shout when necessary to keep each song interesting and to electrify the mood. Speaking of the mood, while dark, gloomy, and heavily burdensome, instead of making you feel down, you are surprisingly uplifted with cuts such as “Eliminate,” “Once Below,” and the irresistible, groove-laden “Stone.”
A diverse album with Alternative Metal arrangements featuring hints of Sleaze Rock at times, and even some old school Grunge, The Sound of Scars has everything you would expect from Life of Agony. A dark collection of songs that are lovable and enjoyable, this is a concept album that tells a story without fairy dust and dreams. Raw and dirty, Cryptic Rock gives The Sound of Scars 4 out of 5 stars.