Life Of Agony - Sound Of Scars: In-Depth Review
Life of Agony have returned with Sound of Scars, a conceptual album that follows up the iconic River Runs Red with interludes that follow the character from the 1993 album immediately after his suicide attempt. This isn’t more of the same, however, Sound of Scars is aptly named as LOA invite us to embark on a powerful journey of self-identification, healing and ultimately, redemption, baring scars both physical and emotional.
We’ve gone track by track to give you our interpretation and break down of this album of the year contender. There are some dark subject matters addressed on this record and they are addressed unapologetically, the way they should be. In an age where people are waking up to mental health awareness, this record could very well become a source of comfort and inspiration to millions.
The story being weaved here takes a long and brutal look in the mirror and lays bare all insecurities and demons one could relate to via the protagonist whose story we hear through interludes much like River Runs Red with the songs fleshing out the ideas
The Prelude to Scars as mentioned picks up from where we left off on River Runs Red an attempted suicide and an air of uneasiness. From there it’s straight into the fantastic Scars with Mina Caputo belting out “Scars are what we are” which really sums up everything this album wants to say it that one simple line, to further the point when talking about the album, drummer Veronica Bellino stated “If you have a scar, you’re a survivor” and that point is exactly what the track Scars is about and works as the anchor of the album.
Black Heart follows and contains the familiar LOA grunge-esque chug and catchy chorus combination. It’s a song about loss, closure and the struggle to move on, you can feel the anger and hatred held within it but it’s contained within LOA’s signature sound.
Lay Down, a popular single from the record is a defiant, infectious rally cry to oneself, with anthemic hooks and a deliciously chunky bassline tying everything together. This is a track almost anyone can relate to, a middle finger to those trying to bring you down, or expecting you to accept defeat.
The second interlude follows, titled Then, it’s the raw and unsettling aftermath of a suicide attempt laid bare with paramedics battling to save the life of our young protagonist. Empty Hole is next through and tackles the difficult subject of suicidal thoughts with careful consideration and expert lyric writing. Songs focusing on suicide can sometimes be patronising or tacky but nothing could be further from the truth with Empty Hole. It’s also a fantastic 90’s sounding homage to the days of old from LOA with it’s scuzzy yet melodic vibe.
My Way Out claims "Smiles and lies, I'm wearing my best disguise", a song that is sure to be of great comfort and a relatable point to so many. Masking true feelings and putting on a brave face for others is an all too common issue for people all over the world and again it’s a subject handled with class but nonetheless frankly.
Eliminate sees the return of that beautiful, ultra-scuzzy bass mixed with frantic drums, another song about internal struggles and coping that is hard to ignore and is lyrically one of the more emotionally charged tracks
Now follows and is another interlude, our main character is still deeply affected by the previous suicide attempt, again this doubles down on the scars theme, both psychical and emotional. Once Below is the turning point, and sees the hope of redemption surface within the story of the album. The focus here is on shame and emotional baggage attached to the past but also there is a will to survive underpinned here.
Stone takes a realistic and brutal look at drinking and coping mechanisms, a self-awareness of one's self-medication permeates the lyrics, throwing a harsh and cold light on another common problem facing many. However, it's again not delivered in a doom and gloom fashion, just as with every other song on Scars this is an enjoyable if not humbling listen.
Weight of the World as the title suggests deals with the sometimes overwhelming pressures of life. It’s possibly the weakest song on the record if we were forced to pick one but as a standalone, it's a very listenable and enjoyable track, when stacked against the rest however it falls a little short.
When is a turning point interlude that again addresses scars and almost talks to the listener if they need to hear it, a mini pep talk if you will?
The album closes out with I Surrender but don’t let the title fool you, this is more of a mantra than anything else and works well to encircle everything addressed throughout the emotional ride that Sound of Scars undeniably is.
Scars is versatile, it can lay bare some ugly truths, it can provide a spark of hope and inspiration and it can be enjoyed as a damn fine record simply because the subject matter is delivered in a way that’s not pandering or tired and old news. There are no gloomy, self-loathing tracks here, everything is done in true LOA style, with flair and passion, all making for one of 2019’s album of the year contenders.
Sound of Scars is out now on Napalm Records