"20 Years Strong" (I Scream Records; 2010)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton


Life of Agony's "20 Years Strong" is one of the rawest, roughest, live concert albums I've heard in a long time. The sound quality throughout is great but the audio has a bootleg edge to it that gives the entire CD life. The band sounds dead on and their gritty, edgy performance is captured with perfection here.

The package is terrific deluxe digipak which includes the CD plus a DVD featuring the complete show as well as extra bonus material.

It's great to have a live CD this untouched with such a raw, straight-forward recording from a band of this renown and a record label as well known and as confident as I Scream. "20 Years Strong" is regreshing and unusual. It seems as though that this CD and DVD had no post-tinkering, No Pro-Tools or no afterdubbing at all. It makes for a pure, raw sound that truly makes you feel as though you were there.

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"River Runs Again" (Steamhammer/SPV; 2003)
"River Runs Again" DVD (Steamhammer/SPV; 2003)
"River Runs Again: Complete" CD & DVD (Steamhammer/SPV; 2003)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

I think it is fitting that the first Life Of Agony CD I review for the pages of Rough Edge is the documentation of the band's reunion concerts at the Irving Plaza in New York City in the form as "River Runs Again." I was introduced to Life Of Agony while the band was the opener for a run of concerts that featured Korn and Ozzy Osbourne. I must point out that this was late 1995 or early 1996 and this time period was the Dark Ages of my metal listening. I was still listening to the metal I'd listened to and loved through the '80s and early '90s, but I hadn't really remained plugged into the heavy metal scene. Consequently I was out of touch and I had no idea who Life Of Agony were. As such, seeing Life Of Agony touring in support of "Ugly" was a refreshing kick in the ass.

"River Runs Again" is a document that captures Life Of Agony's reunion after a six year hiatus during the band's two-night stand at New York City's Irving Plaza in January 2003. The double-CD set is a collection of 18 songs recorded as an underrated band regains its footing after more than a half-decade of separation. The bottom line is that, overall, "River Runs Again" is an uneven, yet irrepressibly triumphant effort. "River Runs Again" serves as a testament to the band taking the stage after a six-year hiatus with vim and vigor despite exhibiting a little rust and perhaps a bit of nervousness. While "River Runs Again" leans heavily toward the band's debut album, my favorite tracks are the performances of "Tangerine," "My Mind Is Dangerous," "I Regret," and "River Runs Red."

The double-CD also contains 3 additional non-concert, non-Life Of Agony songs. One song features a track from Keith Caputo's solo album, another song features a track from Robert Alan's Among Thieves project, and the last song features a track from Sal Abruscato's Supermassiv project. It's a nice little treat for those die-hard Life Of Agony fans that wanted little to do with non-Life Of Agony projects.

"River Runs Again" is also available as a DVD (and as a CD/DVD package). The DVD version of "River Runs Red," as best as I can tell, features the same performances as heard on the CD version. The DVD is a great companion to the audio version as it actually shows the gritty side of the band -- no flashy adornment is needed for Life Of Agony to get their point across. The cinematography is not picture perfect -- and rightfully so. The DVD actually serves as a great parallel to the actual concert itself -- rough around the edges and brimming full of energy. Also, I've always thought that Life Of Agony's performances would translate better on a small stage rather than on the arena-sized venue that was my first (and until now only) impression of the band. The Irving Plaza is a small venue (capacity is about 1,200) so it goes without saying that the small venue captures Life Of Agony's special relationship with their hometown fans.

Life Of Agony has a unique sound -- it's the combination of four individuals in a unique package that is impossible to repeat no matter how hard they try with other projects. That said, it's also worth noting that Life Of Agony is not for everyone. Basically if you are a die-hard fan of Life Of Agony then "River Runs Again" must be a part of your music collection. If you are a casual fan of Life Of Agony then you might want to pick up "River Runs Again" when youve got some money to burn. If you were never a fan of Life Of Agony I doubt there is little that "River Runs Again" can offer that would change your mind, although I'll bet youd gain a newfound respect for the band.

"River Runs Again" was produced by Michael Barbiero.

Life Of Agony: Keith Caputo on vocals, Joey Z on guitar, Robert Alan on bass, and Sal Abruscato on drums.

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"1989 - 1999" (Roadrunner; 2000)

Reviewed by Snidermann


Of course, I had heard of Life Of Agony, but frankly I never had the chance to listen to them. I finally got the chance when I was assigned to review this CD. 

I don't know what I expected, but what I didn't expect was the pure magic and vitality of this band. I was drawn to their power and simplicity from the first few notes of the opening track to the last note on the CD. 

Alas, Life of Agony has disbanded and this is but a collection of rare demos and B-sides. Too bad. Life of Agony is (was) completely, fucking awesome. Their music was straight to the point, their lyrics powerful and sharp, their energy nothing short of explosive. 

Where the fuck has this band been all my life! I wish I had paid more attention when they were together!

"1989-99" begins with some bitchin' hard metal that rocks the listener to their very soul and ends with some poignant and well-done acoustic stuff that just rips. 

Roadrunner records has done an excellent job in putting together this collection of fucking magnificent metal music masterpieces. What can I say, Im hooked.

As near as I can figure Life Of Agony was Keith Caputo, lead vocals; Joey Z,  guitar and vocals and Alan Robert bass/vocals. Five different drummers contributed to this recording.

Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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Copyright 2010 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 28 Nov 2021 13:23:27 -0500.