Older, wiser, better, stronger. That could very well be the 2019 tag line for Life of Agony. Since the bands’ return a full-time band from their hiatus, the have continued to evolve and improve, year over year. Anybody can get on stage, take a paycheck for nostalgia’s sake. No, not this band. Their approach to new music has been inspired. Their comeback album, 2017’s A Place Where There’s No More Pain (Napalm Records) was a powerful reminder of what made this band vital in the first place. Now on The Sound of Scars (also Napalm), the band returns to the scene of their original triumph, to continue the tale.
In the first second of the album, you hear the haunting, familiar drops of blood in the water from the slit wrists of the protagonist from River Runs Red (Roadrunner). As you hear the radio call go out for an ambulance, chills will run up your spine as the narrative plays out. The positively rocking, and uplifting message and riffs of ‘Scars’, just burns with pain and passion. It’s a sure sign that is album is still LOA, but it’s gonna be even more raw and heavy than the last one. ‘Black Heart’ is an upbeat headbanger. Incredible high vocals from Mina Caputo, hardcore gang vocals, and a lyrical guitar solo from Joey Z just make this track a keeper.
Some of the songs have a more heartfelt Rock feel that the previous album displayed such as ‘Lay Down’, ‘Empty Hole’, and ‘Once Below’. Still, it’s a much more metal record deep down, with lots of call and response vocals from Alan Robert and Joey, complimenting Mina. These tracks are going to go over huge live. The secret weapon of the album is definitely drummer Veronica Bellino, in her first recording with the band. After a year-plus on the road playing the classics, she came ready for battle and just slams the kit with heavy, technical, and expertly crafted parts.
There is a lot of depth to the album and there are no weak tracks at all. ‘My Way Out’, ‘Eliminate’, and ‘Stone’ seems to be the songs I keep returning to. The former two have a real old-school punk rock vibe and even a proto-metal Soundgarden thing to them that is hard to quantify, beyond saying they are fantastic songs. Without giving away the narrative, it was a risky and ultimately satisfying choice for the band to continue the story of their eternal debut. It’s a real gift to hear this new chapter in the story play out. Co-producers Sylvia Massey (Tool, Marilyn Manson, System of A Down) and Joey Z really captured the raw energy the band is capable of, without sacrificing any of the dynamics needed for the emotional power of songs like the middle part of ‘Stone’ or the closer, ‘I Surrender’.
Life is painful at times, and we all live with our own scars of depression and other mental health issues, but we don’t have to stay victims of our pain forever. The future is not yet written. As they have always done, Life of Agony uses their music to let you know its OK to not be OK. We can all be survivors, together. You matter. We all matter. It may just be a mere coincidence that World Mental Health Day comes right before this medicine finds its way to your speakers, but I’m glad it found mine.
8 / 10