Life of Agony

Life of Agony is an American alternative metal band from Brooklyn, New York City, that was formed in 1989 by singer Mina Caputo (then known as Keith Caputo), bassist Alan Robert and guitarist Joey Z. To date, the band has released six studio albums.

Life of Agony
Life of Agony performing in 2014
Life of Agony performing in 2014
Background information
OriginBrooklyn, New York, U.S.
Genres
Years active
  • 1989–1999
  • 2002–2012
  • 2014–present
Labels
Associated acts
Websitewww.lifeofagony.com
Members
Past members

HistoryEdit

Formation and River Runs Red (1989–1994)Edit

The band was formed in the summer of 1989 by singer Mina Caputo, bassist Alan Robert, and guitarist Joey Z. After playing with several drummers, they enlisted Type O Negative drummer Sal Abruscato. The band then signed to Roadrunner Records and in 1993 released their debut album River Runs Red. The following year, Life of Agony continued to build a following, and toured with the likes of God Lives Underwater, KMFDM, Korn, and more.

Music videos and promotional singles would be released for the songs "This Time" and "Through and Through". The music video for "This Time" would be featured in an episode of Beavis and Butt-Head, while both videos would find occasional airplay on Headbangers Ball, which gave the band early exposure.

Ugly (1995–1996)Edit

River Runs Red was followed by the more emotional Ugly album in 1995. It was produced by Steve Thompson, whom would become a Grammy winner in later years. The album peaked at No. 153 on the Billboard 200, the band's first appearance on a Billboard chart. "Lost At 22" and "Let's Pretend" were both released as singles, but did not chart.

While touring in 1995 in support of their album, a fan died after falling from the stage while apparently trying to stage-dive. A security guard and, to a lesser extent, the band were implicated in a lawsuit which was eventually dropped with no charges filed. At subsequent concerts the band were mindful of the potential for fans to injure themselves, often trying to cool down the mosh pit between songs if things were rough. An example of this would be seen on the River Runs Again DVD, in which Caputo is heard saying "Everybody watch over each other out in the pit, we already lost a life." and "No lives lost, right?"

Drummer Abruscato left Life of Agony after the accompanying tour. His successor was ex-Pro-Pain & ex-Crumbsuckers drummer Dan Richardson.

Soul Searching Sun, Caputo's departure, and breakup (1997–2002)Edit

Life of Agony released their third album Soul Searching Sun in April 1997. It marked a slight change of style for the band. The album charted at No. 157 on the Billboard 200, slightly lower than the band's previous effort; however, the lead single "Weeds" peaked at No. 27 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart, and lingered on the chart for over 3 months. The second single, "Tangerine", would peak at No. 37 on the same chart.

Vocalist Caputo departed the band following the release of Soul Searching Sun, towards the end of 1997. She claimed "My heart was no longer in the type of music Life of Agony produced". The band then toured with ex-Ugly Kid Joe singer Whitfield Crane, went back into the studio, and kicked Crane out of the band in the span of one year. They contemplated moving Robert to vocals and guitar and adding former Stuck Mojo bassist Corey Lowery, but decided they did not want to continue under the Life of Agony banner without Caputo; thus, they decided to split in 1999. Robert started Among Thieves with former members of Biohazard and the rest of the band started Stereomud with Erik Rogers on vocals, both not straying far from Life of Agony's style. A live CD with the band's unplugged performance at the Dutch Lowlands Festival from 1997 was released in 2000.

First reunion and Broken Valley (2003–2011)Edit

On January 3 and 4, 2003, the original lineup reunited for two sold-out shows at New York's Irving Plaza. Both shows were recorded and released on CD/DVD later that same year. The reunion resulted in several more shows and appearances on European festivals, as well as the recording of 2005's Broken Valley,[1] the band's first new studio album since 1997 and their first on the Sony-owned Epic Records. The original album contained a controversial copy protection method that would later be seen in court. Broken Valley was a commercial disappointment for Epic despite reaching No. 147 on the Billboard 200, the band's highest position yet. The album's lead single, "Love to Let You Down", peaked at No. 25 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart. At the end of 2005, the label and the band parted ways.[2]

Caputo later stated "That experience killed this band in a lot of ways. The label didn't understand who this band was and continually tried to mold us into something we weren't. Not to mention the illegal spyware they put on our album without our knowledge to try and prevent piracy, and the class-action lawsuit they lost because of it. The court forced them to pull all of our records off the shelf just three months after it was released! The whole thing was a nightmare. We didn't want to make new music for a long time after that."[3]

Life of Agony went on to tour with Megadeth, Dream Theater, and numerous other metal bands during 2005's Gigantour. Three years after their tour in 2005, Life of Agony released a CD/DVD set for River Runs Red with bonus tracks and videos from their early career. Caputo was featured on the 2007 track "What Have You Done" from the band Within Temptation. The song had been a minor hit all around the world.

 
Life of Agony performing at the 2009 Damnation Festival

During a December 2010 appearance on MTV's Headbangers Ball, Life of Agony announced they were writing new material.[4] Abruscato stated in the interview that they were "Going to start with one song and see if there is a good enough spark to continue writing. This is something special for the fans for their patience."

By the summer of 2011, the band attempted to write new material, only to feel it was being forced and not natural. In between, Abruscato created A Pale Horse Named Death, Joey Z. was still running his New York-based Method of Groove Studio, Caputo would focus on various solo projects, and Robert was working on his second comic for IDW and a film of his first comic called Wire Hangers.

Second split (2012–2013)Edit

In a February 2012 interview, Abruscato confirmed that Life of Agony was disbanded. He explained "We're not gonna play [anymore]. We moved out of our studio. We all kind of feel like we're at the end. We're never gonna make another record, because of those kinds of problems I was talking about [earlier in the interview] – we can't agree on writing a song. And Mina Caputo (vocals) wants to pursue her lifestyle. And that's pretty much the reason why also I've moved on and I'm doing my own thing...to just keep going; I didn't want my career to stop with Life of Agony. Life of Agony doesn't tour, Life of Agony doesn't do much. And so we were at a point where it was like...we did the last three shows in July [2011] and then we moved out of our studio, and that's it. I don't foresee anything in the future; I highly doubt it. I don't know how that would happen."[5]

In a July 2012 interview with Revolver Magazine, Robert described his attitude towards the state of the band, and said "I actually don't think Mina's transition is the ultimate reason the band isn't active right now. We'd been doing a lot less touring over the last bunch of years, way before she announced her personal news. I can only speak for myself, but I can say that starting a family has definitely made me want to tour and travel a lot less in general. For that reason in particular, I'm much happier being home working on my comics and film projects. It fulfills my creative needs and allows me to live the life I want to at this stage."[6]

Second reunion (2014–present)Edit

 
Mina Caputo at the PictureOn Festival 2014

On March 22, 2014, Life of Agony confirmed on their official website that they were active again, and performed their first show since Caputo's gender confirmation at the Alcatraz Hard Rock & Metal Festival in Kortrijk, Belgium on August 8.[7][8][9][10]

On January 12, 2016, Life of Agony announced that they were signed to Napalm Records,[11] and released A Place Where There's No More Pain, their first studio album in 12 years, on April 28, 2017.[12] In December of that same year, drummer Abruscato would leave the band for the second time, and was replaced by Veronica Bellino.

The band announced the release, in October 2019, of its sixth studio album The Sound of Scars on Napalm Records again, which was being billed as "Chapter Two" to their debut River Runs Red. The concept album, hailed by Loudwire as one of the year's "Most Anticipated Hard Rock & Metal Albums"[13] was produced and mixed by Grammy Award-winning producer Sylvia Massy and co-produced by the band's guitarist Joey Z, while engineer Howie Weinberg handled mastering duties.

On August 9, 2019, the lead single "Scars" premiered on Billboard.[14] The Sound of Scars would ultimately peak at No. 3 on Billboard's Heatseekers Albums and No. 7 on Billboard's Independent Albums. A documentary film, also titled The Sound of Scars, is set to be released in 2021. The film is directed by Leigh Brooks and will include interviews with the band members and their families. The film will also include archival footage, photographs, lost interviews, and go over various points of the band's history, including Mina Caputo's gender transition.[15] A portion of ticket sales from the film will go to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and All Out.[16]

Musical style and influencesEdit

Life of Agony has been described as alternative metal,[17][18][19][20][21] grunge,[22][23] hard rock,[24][25] heavy metal,[24][26] hardcore punk[24] and nu metal.[27] According to the group members themselves, they were influenced by bands such as Radiohead, Metallica, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, and Social Distortion. Robert wrote the majority of the music and lyrics and Caputo wrote select ballads, mostly about her parents and homelife, particularly her mother.

Perhaps the most striking difference between the River Runs Red and Ugly albums of the mid-90s and 2005's Broken Valley is the change in Caputo's vocal style, which gradually changed from a Danzig-esque baritone to a lighter, more conventional rock style later in the band's career.

Side projectsEdit

The band continues to perform and make music together as well as pursuing individual projects. Caputo recorded several solo records with European musicians and has toured overseas to support those albums. Robert, Life of Agony's primary songwriter, started Spoiler NYC in 2006. The group recorded an album called Grease Fire in Hell's Kitchen and filmed videos for the singles "Suicide Hotel" and "Ruined". Many reviewers praised the old-school approach to their street punk sound. He later established himself as a horror comics author and illustrator, releasing several critically acclaimed series for IDW Publishing. His creator-owned titles include Wire Hangers, Crawl to Me and Killogy. His horror-themed adult coloring book series The Beauty of Horror has a worldwide following and the title is currently being developed into an animated television series.

Member Joey Z. had created his own recording studio, Method of Groove, in Brooklyn, New York City.

Band membersEdit

Timeline

DiscographyEdit

AlbumsEdit

Studio albumsEdit

Year Title Label Chart peaks
US
[28]
US Heat.
[29]
AUT
[30]
GER
[31]
NLD SWI
[32]
BEL
(FL)

[33]
BEL
(WA)
1993 River Runs Red Roadrunner 71
1995 Ugly 153 8 39 79 23
1997 Soul Searching Sun 157 9 12 16 34
2005 Broken Valley Epic 147 4 36 44 49 39
2017 A Place Where There's No More Pain Napalm 73 3 33 23 112 56 28 104
2019 The Sound of Scars 3 69 34 82 84

Compilation albumsEdit

Year Album Label
1999 1989–1999 Roadrunner
2003 The Best of
2013 The Complete Roadrunner Collection 1993–2000

Live albumsEdit

Year Album Label
2000 Unplugged at the Lowlands Festival '97 Roadrunner
2003 River Runs Again: Live 2003 Steamhammer
2010 20 Years Strong–River Runs Red: Live in Brussels I Scream

Demo albumsEdit

Year Album
1990 Death on the BMT
Step Aside
1991 Depression
The Stain Remains

SinglesEdit

Year Song Album Chart peaks
US Active Rock
[34]
US Main. Rock
[35]
UK
[36]
1994 "Through and Through" River Runs Red
"This Time"
1995 "Lost at 22" Ugly
1996 "Let's Pretend"
1997 "Weeds" Soul Searching Sun 19 27 91
"Desire"
1998 "Tangerine" 25 37
2005 "Love to Let You Down" Broken Valley 22 25
2019 "Scars" The Sound of Scars

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Life of Agony's 'A Place Where There's No More Pain': Exclusive Premiere". Billboard, March 2, 2017 by Christa Titus
  2. ^ "LIFE OF AGONY Split With EPIC RECORDS". BLABBERMOUTH.NET. December 16, 2005. Retrieved December 8, 2016.
  3. ^ "Life Of Agony take aim at global division on new track World Gone Mad | Louder". Teamrock.com. April 18, 2017. Retrieved March 11, 2020.
  4. ^ Life Of Agony Is Working On A New Track – MTV
  5. ^ "Life Of Agony Drummer: 'We're Not Gonna Play Anymore'". Blabbermouth.net. Archived from the original on February 20, 2012.
  6. ^ "Alan Robert on Comic Books, Horror Movies, and Life After Life of Agony". Revolver Magazine.
  7. ^ "Life of Agony to Return to the Stage this Summer". revolvermag.com.
  8. ^ "Life Of Agony To Reunite For 'Alcatraz Hard Rock & Metal Festival' This Summer". Theprp.com. March 22, 2014.
  9. ^ "LIFE OF AGONY Returns To The Stage This Summer - Details Available!". Hornsuprocks.com.
  10. ^ "LIFE OF AGONY RETURN TO THE STAGE THIS SUMMER!". Lifeofagony.com.
  11. ^ "LIFE OF AGONY Signs With NAPALM RECORDS, Announces New Album 'A Place Where There's No More Pain'". Blabbermouth.net. January 12, 2016. Retrieved January 12, 2016.
  12. ^ "LIFE OF AGONY's 'A Place Where There's No Pain' To Arrive In April". Blabbermouth.net. December 30, 2016. Retrieved January 30, 2017.
  13. ^ "2019's Most Anticipated Hard Rock + Metal Albums". Loudwire.com.
  14. ^ "Watch the Video for Life of Agony's 'Scars' From Upcoming Album 'The Sound of Scars': Exclusive". Billboard.com. August 9, 2019.
  15. ^ Hatfield, Amanda (March 9, 2021). "Life of Agony screening new documentary 'The Sound of Scars'". Brooklyn Vegan. Retrieved March 17, 2021.
  16. ^ Divita, Joe (March 10, 2021). "Watch Life of Agony's Deeply Personal Documentary Trailer". Loudwire. Retrieved March 17, 2021.
  17. ^ Prato, Greg. "Life of Agony". AllMusic. Retrieved September 4, 2021.
  18. ^ https://loudwire.com/life-of-agony-first-new-song-12-years/
  19. ^ https://consequence.net/2019/08/life-of-agony-new-album-the-sound-of-scars-video-scars/
  20. ^ https://www.billboard.com/music/rock/life-of-agony-scars-video-premiere-the-sound-of-scars-album-8526950/
  21. ^ https://www.revolvermag.com/music/life-agony-reveal-new-drummer-veronica-bellino?page=30
  22. ^ Prezidente, El (May 8, 2018). "Life of Agony's Joey Z. says band aim to hit studio next year; talks tour, least favorite song". Metal Insider. Retrieved September 4, 2021.
  23. ^ https://ldnmagazine.com/2021/04/21/movie-soundtrack-wednesday-17-life-of-agony-the-sound-of-scars/
  24. ^ a b c Grow, Kory (April 27, 2017). "Life of Agony's Mina Caputo: From Metal Alpha Male to Trans Role Model". Rolling Stone. Retrieved September 4, 2021.
  25. ^ https://www.wsou.net/news/dieselamericashowreview.cfm#.YdzRlmRn1kw
  26. ^ https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/blog/brick-brick/202105/sound-scars-reveals-emotional-power-life-agony
  27. ^ Sendra, Tim. "Seek and Destroy: 16 Nu-Metal Extremes Review". Allmusic. Retrieved January 11, 2022. This compilation from Empire Music indeed features 16 alt-metal tracks from bands who fall into the nu-metal sound.
  28. ^ "Life of Agony Chart History Billboard 200". Billboard. Eldridge Industries. Retrieved June 22, 2016.
  29. ^ "Life of Agony Chart history Heatseekers Albums". Billboard. Eldridge Industries. Retrieved June 22, 2016.
  30. ^ "Discographie Life of Agony". austriancharts.at. Retrieved October 25, 2019.
  31. ^ "Discographie von Life of Agony". GfK Entertainment. Retrieved October 17, 2019.
  32. ^ "Discographie Life of Agony". hitparade.ch. Retrieved October 23, 2019.
  33. ^ "Discografie Life of Agony". Ultratop. Retrieved October 18, 2019.
  34. ^ "Life of Agony Chart History Active Rock". Billboard. Eldridge Industries. Retrieved March 17, 2021.
  35. ^ "Life of Agony Chart history Mainstream Rock". Billboard. Eldridge Industries. Retrieved June 22, 2016.
  36. ^ "LIFE OF AGONY|full Official Chart History". Official Charts Company. Retrieved March 17, 2021.

External linksEdit