Life of Agony – The Sound of Scars (Napalm)

Sunday, 6th October 2019
Rating: 9/10

Two years removed from A Place Where There’s No More Pain, Life of Agony have returned with some exciting news. Their new album, The Sound of Scars, follows up the storyline of their much-revered debut, River Runs Red. Given the amount of evolution that Life of Agony has had in the last 26 years, they’ve come a long way. But somehow, even with the musical difference from then to now, the band has come full-circle with their emotive storytelling core still completely intact.

The story behind The Sound of Scars takes the young man from River Runs Red and catches up with him as an adult, still struggling with his past. Much like the young man, Life of Agony as a band has grown-up in that time from a musical sense, so don’t expect Scars to sound like a total throwback to the band’s sonic beginnings. Instead, they’ve captured that twisted beauty that they’ve always had and applied it to their more modern sound. Some of the sludgy-ness remains though, and the heavier tracks on this release, such as “My Way Out” and “Once Below” bolster some thick and chunky grooves and gang-style vocals that channel their younger days in a genuine way. The honest sense of emotion that the band has always had is just as razor-sharp and poignant as ever, with “I Surrender” packing an emotional wallop to close things out, but also more grooving alt-metal cuts “Weight of the World” and “Black Heart” illustrate that magic of how they can simultaneously get you moving while providing a powerful message. Some of this of course provided by Mina Caputo’s soaring vocals, but also some undeniable hooks that creep out regularly, such as grunge-laden bounce of “Empty Hole” or punchy yet downtrodden “Stone.”

The story itself pulls in four segments outside of the music (“Prelude”/”Then”/”Now”/”When”), that effectively wrap into the context and hold up well with repeated listens – giving the surrounding tracks some added depth. Giving Life of Agony it’s greatest gift – the ability to draw one in with ultra-catchy hooks and heavy grooves, but retains long-term interest with a relatable and moving narrative. It’s really what the band has been about from the beginning: gritty and raw power coupled with fragile, honest emotions. A unique combination that’s kept them at the top of their game, no matter their evolution.

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