Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Life of Agony - A Place Where There's No Pain

Once upon a time Life of Agony meant a lot to me and were a band that had very good albums which were never far from my stereo. I was a sucker for their brand of alternative metal and even had an "Ugly" T-shirt however the band lost me with their fourth album "Broken Valley' back in 2005. It was a weak hard rock album with incredibly radio-friendly songsthat possibly stemmed from the fact that main vocalist, Keith Caputo left the band and was replaced by a former Ugly Kid Joe member although Caputo was again the vocalist. Sadly it didn't measure up to Caputo's solo work.

Fast forward twelve years and Keith Caputo is now Mina Caputo due to a gender change and the band have recently released their fifth studio album, Ä Place Where There's No Pain". When I played the albums that followed the band's debut "River Runs Red", friends would point out that Life of Agony sounded like a grunge band and in hindsight, they are close to Alice In Chains(who similar to Soundgarden, it could be debated that they were never really a grunge band but an "alternative"metal band). From the album opener, the band make it clear that after the twelve year break they are refreshed and re-energized. There is a crisp sound to the fine mix. The strength and character of the band always hinged strongly on Caputo's voice and she is in fine form here. Those that enjoyed her peformance on the "Soul Searching Sun" and "Ugly" albums can relax as she sounds as strong vocally as she did back then and the gender change hasn't altered the vocals as much as it potentially could have. The other musicians are also in form throughout the album. It might appear lazy to compare the second song "Right this Wrong" to Alice in Chains but I'd be surprised if they're not the first musical comparison any listener makes. The title track has that groove that either made or turned you off much of the "Soul Searching Sun" album. There's also been a dark sense of urgency conveyed in the band's lyrics and music and on an album called Ä Place Without Pain" this sensibilty is at its strongest on "Dead Speak Kindly"and "A New Low" due to tight musicianship and gothic undertones. Sadly, while it's not a bad song "World's Gone Mad" just doesn't convey the same feelings but it is possible that the reason is that the song's theme is much more cliched. However, it's likely to win the band legions of new fans due to its rock radio-friendliness.

Fans of "Ugly"and "Soul Searching Sun"are more likely to take to the solid rock album's title track which harks back to the mid-late 1990's.

Album closer "Little Spots of You" changes pace as it features Mina Caputo and a piano and unfortunately lends the feel of an abrupt finish to the album, which can easily be countered by shuffling the tracks.

Fans of the band's debut "River Runs Red"wishing for a return for hardcore will once again be disappointed by a Life of Agony album as the band are unlikely to return to that sound but those who took to Life of Agony's were disappointed by "Broken Valley" can wear shit eating grins while they cry with the band again as this is the follow-up album most of us wanted. Let's hope we don't have wait way over twelve years before Life of Agony hit us in the right spot again.


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