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4.36 | 9 ratings | 3 reviews
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Album · 1993


1. This Time (05:42)
2. Underground (04:41)
3. Monday (01:31)
4. River Runs Red (01:55)
5. Through and Through (03:06)
6. Words and Music (05:13)
7. Thursday (02:10)
8. Bad Seed (05:40)
9. My Eyes (02:47)
10. Respect (04:16)
11. Method of Groove (05:17)
12. The Stain Remains (04:31)
13. Friday (03:35)

Total Time 50:28

1994 CD digipack edition:

14. Plexi Intro (live) (02:18)
15. Respect (live) (04:15)
16. This Time (live) (05:46)
17. Through and Through (live) (03:22)

Total Time 66:05

2008 CD edition:

14. Here I Am, Here I Stay (05:22)
15. Depression (05:28)
16. 3 Companions (03:24)
17. Plexiglass Gate (05:09)

Total Time 69:47

2008 DVD:

1. Through and Through (video)
2. This Time (video)
3. Through and Through (live)
4. River Runs Red (live)


- Keith Caputo / vocals
- Joey Z. / guitars
- Alan Robert / bass
- Sal Abruscato / drums

About this release

CD, cassette and 12" 33⅓ RPM vinyl LP released 12th October 1993 on Roadrunner Records (RR 9043-2). CD reissued 2000.

Cassette released 1993 on Metal Mind Productions (MASS 0071).

CD released 21st January 1994 in Japan on Far East Metal Syndicate (APCY-8153).

CD released 1994 on Attic Records (CRRD 9043).

CD digipack released 1994 on Roadrunner Records (RR 9043-5), with bonus tracks.

CD reissued 2002 on Metal Mind Productions (MASS CD 0071).

12" 33⅓ RPM vinyl LP reissued 2006 on Cargo Records Germany (RRCAR 9043-2).

CD / DVD released 29th April 2008 released 29th April 2008 on Roadrunner Records (1686-180472). CD contains bonus tracks.

12" 45 RPM vinyl 2LP released 29th November 2013 on Brookvale Records (BRKV 229). Released for Record Store Day Black Friday 2013, limited to 2500 copies:

- 500 copies on blue vinyl
- 500 copies on blood red vinyl
- 1500 copies on transparent red vinyl

Recorded at System Two, Brooklyn, NY
Produced by Josh Silver
All music and arrangements by Life of Agony (Alan Robert).
All lyrics, melodies and musical concepts by Alan Robert.

Thanks to UMUR, Time Signature, Unitron, Bosh66 for the updates


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Specialists/collaborators reviews

"River Runs Red" is the debut full-length studio album by US, New York based hardcore/alternative rock/metal act Life of Agony. The album was released through Roadrunner Records in October 1993. Life of Agony was formed in 1989 by lead vocalist Keith Caputo (now Mina Caputo), bassist Alan Robert, and guitarist Joey Z.. The band played with several drummers before former Type O Negative drummer Sal Abruscato joined shortly before recording "River Runs Red". The Type O Negative connection is further strengthened by the fact that Josh Silver (keyboard player/producer in Type O Negative) is credited as producer on "River Runs Red".

But while there are some sound production similarities between Josh Silver´s work on the early Type O Negative releases and the sound on "River Runs Red", Life of Agony is ultimately a very different sounding act to their fellow New Yorkers.

"River Runs Red" is a concept release telling the story of a young man who has been abandoned by his farther (who has started a new life with a new wife as told in the opening track "This Time"). The young man lives with his verbally abuse mother (her screaming is heard on a couple of interlude tracks on the album), and his life is generally on the way down the drain. We experience that he is fired, dumped by his girlfriend, and told that he is failing classes in school. Already early on in the story the listener is made aware that the young man is suicidal, and the story ends with him slashing his wrists with a razor in his bathtub (hence the title of the album), and his mother screaming when she finds him dead.

Stylistically the music is heavy and groove laden New York hardcore, and in that respect nothing out of the least when it comes to the instrumental part of the music. Keith Caputo´s voice and emotional vocal delivery are what make "River Runs Red" stand out from other New York hardcore releases. Caputo successfully manage to convincingly convey the sadness and despair of the lyrics. Self-loathing, depression, insecurity, and social issues all combined on this heavy and powerful album.

The material on the 13 track, 50:28 minutes long album are generally well written, catchy, and memorable, although some tracks stand out more than others. Highlights include "This Time", the title track, "Through and Through", and "Words and Music" (the ultra heavy mid-section, where Caputo sings about his friend´s funeral is just bleak, bleak, bleak). About mid-way through the album the quality drops a bit and to my ears the album is frontloaded with the standout tracks, but when that is said the tracks on the latter part of the album aren´t bad quality tracks by any means ("Bad Seed" is for example pretty great, and the chorus to "Method of Groove" is absolutely killer, although the rap vocals on the verses may scare off some people), and "River Runs Red" is overall an album with a good flow and enough variation between tracks to keep the listener entertained throughout. A 3.5 - 4 star (75%) rating is deserved.
River Runs Red is the cult-classic debut full-length studio album by the underrated, unique New York band Life Of Agony. It was produced by Josh Silver and released in 1993 through Roadrunner Records.

The album is a concept album which tells the story of a confused and disillusioned young man with low self-worth and a poor support network, who ultimately decides to commit suicide. Its pretty grim, dark, weighty stuff. The story really sucks you in, and you find yourself hoping its not going to end in tragedy.

Musically, this album is a pretty interesting hybrid. There’s touches of Thrash Metal, Doom Metal, NY Hardcore and a big Type-O Negative influence at the same time. At times its almost sort of like Sick Of It All doing a St Vitus cover song, with Pete Steele on vocals. Not really, but that’s a ballpark idea of what to expect.

The whole thing is chocked full of pummeling double-kicks and gang vocals, big fat dirty riffs, inventive drumming, really unique and interesting vocal performances and bucketloads of catchy hooks.

Album highlights include the speedy Title Track, the absolutely crushing opener “This Time” and the bitter introspective “Bad Seed.” If you wonder whether the album is for you or not, check out those three! That said, the whole album is rock solid, consistent from start to finish, and there’s no messing with tracks like “These Eyes” or “Method Of Groove” either. The only thing you’ll find yourself skipping are the three additional atmospheric tracks (each named after a day of the week) that provide the story but aren’t songs. Awesome for when you sit down and listen to it as a story, but missable if you just want to be bludgeoned by heavy music.

Overall; this album is an absolute monster. Relentlessly catchy, full of crushing riffs, a dynamic mix of speed and slow, powerful vocals and an interesting story. It’s a pretty unique record that no other band sounds like (and the band themselves would never repeat stylistically) and as long as you aren’t upset that it doesn’t fit neatly into one confined box, this album just gives and gives. It’s a grower, and the more spins you put in, the more magic you get back. In short – highly recommended.

Members reviews

Life of Agony surfaced from the same musical scene (early 1990's Brooklyn) that birthed Biohazard and Type O Negative (with whom they shared a drummer, Sal Abruscato). Fittingly, the sound on their debut album, River Runs Red, is somewhere between the two bands, with the hardcore ethos of BH and the general mood of Type O Negative at their most self-deprecating (though in a much more serious vein).

Fair warning time: if you're looking for music that is at all happy, seek life elsewhere. This is far from that. What this is, is a slice of hard life, filtered through hardcore-derived metal. That being said, it is crushingly beautiful (or beautifully crushing, take your pick).

The album does contain a few well-placed "hell yeah" moments (in the vein of tough-guy brotherhood type stuff, very hardcore-style), which keep this from being a monotone of depression and anger.

To be honest, there is only really one thing that detracts a slight bit from this album, and that's the skits (the tracks named after days of the week). They serve as a framing device (and, ultimately, a finale) for the album, and they're not horrible. I just find them a bit extraneous for my tastes.

All in all, a firm addition to any metalhead's collection. Four and one-half well earned stars.

Ratings only

  • GWLHM76
  • SilentScream213
  • Vim Fuego
  • Fant0mas
  • Bartje1979
  • alice-in-chains4lyfe

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