Although the phrase New York City can bring to mind images of a cluttered web of heaven-bound skyscrapers, constant yellow taxi cab-infused traffic jams, and hoards of totally diverse people roaming a labyrinth of numerically labelled streets, this majestic American city can also be known for its dualistic mix of light and dark (good and evil). In many ways this bustling metropolis is a cumulative mixed blessing, one which is synonymous with freedom and potential as well as oppression and stagnation. It is not at all surprising then, that this Mecca of opportunity has spawned an incredible number of super-talented musicians. One group for example, who not only fits this particular bill, but who is also in some ways the very essence of New York itself, is a quartet of seasoned musicians known as Life of Agony.
LOA’s beginning dates back to the summer of 1989, and although much has transpired in the years since their initial formation, the group has essentially become the iconoclast of a grimy, abrasive, and yet uplifting style of music known as Metalcore. LOA, a band whose name is ironically synonymous with much more than life’s peculiar torments, has already spent about a decade overloading amplifiers and loud systems with their superbly powerful sounds. Almost immediately after this colossal musical powerhouse originally formed they began developing a thick and devoted underground fan-following. Boasting both attitudes and an intense love for their music, each as deep and deafening as their unique sound, it did not take long for LOA to start attracting the attention of prominent record labels. In fact, without much waiting at all, the group came to ink a contract with independent record label Roadrunner Records.
Maintaining their bulldozer-like forward momentum, the newly signed LOA teamed up with their friend and producer Josh Silver (Type O Negative), hit the studio, and in 1993 released their groundbreaking debut “River Runs Red.” The group’s true potential was quickly realised as their debut offering was instantaneously well received, eventually becoming a Metalcore classic. LOA subsequently spent a tremendous amount of time on the road, touring, playing sell-out shows, and all the while adding to their ever-growing fan base. The group’s unrelenting drive was to continue for quite some time aiding them in producing a new studio release every two years until 1997 (“Ugly” in 1995 and “Soul Searching Sun” in 1997). Needless to say, by this point in their careers LOA was definitely well along the path to super-stardom.
Now it is important to note, that one of the most extraordinary aspects about both LOA and their music, is that while many other group’s sound can stagnate and remain repetitive, LOA actually embraces change extremely well. With each of their previous releases, although never losing their unique feel, the band’s sound always underwent a total transformation. In many ways LOA have seemingly mastered the art of musical self-exploration and new sound manipulation; continuously forging brand new music. Amidst all of their success and in spite of all of their talents however, LOA would unfortunately also experience some of life’s true agonies. When original drummer Sal Abruscato left the group in 1995, this was to mark the first major kink in the group’s foundation and future stability. Surprisingly, only two years later LOA frontman Keith Caputo also called it quits leaving remaining members Joey Z and Alan Robert to attempt to maintain the band. Although they struggled valiantly to uphold LOA’s integrity, in 1999 they finally decided to lay LOA down to rest.
Although this was to be a dark time in LOA’s history, the group’s separation would ultimately lead to greater things. After the split, each of LOA’s original members would spend ample time working on various other musical projects; never giving up on careers in music. During this time apart these four young musicians had the opportunity to explore themselves musically, creatively, and personally. Maturation and growth are the key principles here, for without these changes LOA’s reformation would most likely never have occurred. And although it came as almost a fluke, in January of 2003 for no more than two nights, LOA’s original line-up was to reform and perform in two reunion shows. Bearing in mind that LOA had previously retained a massive following, it is to no surprise that these two shows sold-out in less than an hour. Impressed with the response, the group realised that this could be start (or continuation) of something incredible and thus was reborn this amazing band.
To keep a long story short, LOA’s original line-up is together again for the first time since 1995 and are now more than ever are ready to push forwards with this band. With a European tour and numerous shows behind them, they re-entered the studio and in 2005 dropped their latest album “Broken Valley.” LOA is a group whose longevity is evidently far greater than anyone previously would have imagined. And with this most recent release it is more than obvious that the group’s knack for altering their sound, maintaining their original feel, and writing phenomenally powerful music is far from being over.