Billed as a sequel to the classic River Runs Red, New York’s Life of Agony return to action with The Sound of Scars. It’s a bold move by the band, to revisit that cherished era in the band’s history especially seen as they seem to be a lot further away from that style than they’ve ever been, but with the addition of new drummer Veronica Bellino, the band seem to be in a good place, perhaps the best they’ve been since those early days
If you’re familiar with the concept of River Runs Red, then the fact that the album has interludes will come as no surprise to you and indeed that’s how this album opens, carrying on the story from the seminal debut album, before slamming into Scars. Having been released as the lead track I was already familiar with this track and if I’m honest it left me wanting. What I wanted, arrives next with Black Heart. A chugging riff with Brooklyn style backing vocals, that were once the bands calling card, and Mina’s soaring harmonies. Now we are talking. A Soul Searching Sun –esque track is next with Lay Down and that’s not a bad thing by any means and that can also be said of Empty Hole which is carried once again by the haunting vocals of Caputo.
The band take it right back to their hardcore roots with Eliminate an upbeat number reminding us that this is a band that emerged from and helped develop the third phase of New York Hardcore. A brooding number with a killer chorus courtesy of some great backing vocals Once Below, which also showcases one of metals most underrated guitarists-Joey Z’s solo skills The album finishes off with Weight Of The World carrying us into When a spoken word piece that tells us the final chapter of the story that started with River Runs Red before the absolutely subliminal ending that is I Surrender with Caputo repeating over and over “There’s no faith and there’s no truth” almost hypnotically.
This is a band that have rediscovered their mojo, by looking backwards at what started it all and what made them the force they are in the first place. Life of Agony are finally firing on all cylinders, and The Sound Of Scars is nothing short of a jubilant return to form… Chris Andrews