If bands were paid royalties for influencing others, LIFE OF AGONY would be millionaires off the back of their debut River Runs Red. The album influenced many sub-genres from stoner to sludge, nu metal to hardcore. In 1993, LIFE OF AGONY were truly ahead of their time, but in 2017 however it feels like they’re playing catch up to the bands they inspired – A Place Where There’s No More Pain, their first album in twelve years and the reunion of their classic lineup is unfortunately the first blemish on their otherwise stellar career.
The album kicks off exactly how you would want a LIFE OF AGONY record to, with some quick atmosphere building and a fat riff that kicks down the door, however once that door is kicked down the record begins to become sluggish and drags its feet all over your clean carpet. It picks itself up in places thanks to Joey Z’s strong guitar work, and the rhythm section also does a passable job helping the aforementioned riffs feel thick when they need to, causing songs like Meet My Maker and World Gone Mad to be a lot more memorable, but though Mina Caputo delivers a decent vocal performance over it all, her voice isn’t quite as interesting and encapsulating as that on her recent solo album, Love Hard. This album, however, sees a lot of her vocals covered in horribly dated effects which ruin tracks like Dead Speak Kindly, making it sound like something left on the cutting room floor of ALICE IN CHAINS’ The Dirt.
What ultimately lets A Place Where There’s No More Pain down is the songwriting. LIFE OF AGONY are great at writing interesting, digestible songs that have many layers to explore, but this record just serves up what feels like the kind of filler any band who once rode the coattails of LoA could serve up. Even bands like Skillet and Shinedown, who are known for their simplistic hard rock, have delivered more complex songs in recent years – Though none of the songs are particularly long many drag, showcasing how slow this album can feel to the point where they’re a struggle to get through. This makes most of the album such a chore that even Caputo’s lyrics can’t entice you to stick around for it.
Whilst all these negatives are glaringly obvious, A Place Where There’s No More Pain still has entertaining moments. The biggest highlight is the album’s closer, Little Spots Of You, a haunting piano-led track which has a disturbing atmosphere giving the listener more to delve into than any of the tracks that preceded it, but unfortunately it still means A Place Where There’s No More Pain only gives us a small tease of the creative prowess this band used to possess.
A Place Where There’s No More Pain is set for release on April 28th via Napalm Records.
Like LIFE OF AGONY on Facebook.