LIFE OF AGONY — River Runs Red (review)

LIFE OF AGONY — River Runs Red album cover Album · 1993 · Hardcore Punk Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
UMUR
"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 ordinary...at 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.
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UMUR wrote:
1 year ago
I used to worship this album, when it was released. It has lost a little bit og its magic over the years for me, but I still think it´s a great and rather unique sounding release.
Vim Fuego wrote:
1 year ago
I not long ago checked this out for the first time. Amazing album.

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