LIVE: Life Of Agony @ The Electric Ballroom, London

By Glen Bushell

To say that Life Of Agony’s story has been filled with struggle would be an understatement. They have faced more obstacles in their career than most bands but have come out of it fighting. They reigned supreme through the 90s, releasing three critically acclaimed albums – particularly ‘River Runs Red’, which is seen as a milestone in hardcore. However, things turned sour for the band and they imploded. They made a brief return in the mid 00s but their comeback album, ‘Broken Valley’, received a great deal of criticism and they were put on badly packaged tours. Again, the band would eventually reach their demise.

Life Of Agony in 2016 is completely different beast all together. They returned a couple of years ago, following vocalist Keith Caputo’s struggle with gender dysphoria. Now as Mina Caputo, she holds more confidence than ever. It has injected a new lease of life of into the band, and their return to London – for the first time in over 10 years – is nothing short of triumphant.

The Electric Ballroom is packed to the rafters tonight and you can almost cut the anticipation for tonight’s show with knife. Some members of the audience are returning to see Life Of Agony in hope of nostalgia; others are here seeing them for the first time. Regardless, the common ground that everyone shares is that they are all eager to feel the raw emotion that only Life Of Agony can bring to heavy music.

When they arrive onstage, they waste no time making their presence felt. They kick off with ‘River Runs Red’, launching straight into ‘This Time’ before anyone has had a chance to catch their breath. Every voice in the room sings along with Caputo, and hangs off her every word. She is captivating to watch onstage, adding extra harmonies and extended notes to the classic ‘Other Side Of The River’, and brings a certain beauty to the New York hardcore stomp of ‘Method Of Groove’.

Life Of Agony play almost every track you want to hear tonight. Members of the audience look visibly moved during a passionate performance of ‘Weeds’, then proceed to batter each other senseless during the crushing ‘Lost At 22’. Guitarist Joey Z’s riffs sound huge as they echo through the venue, and the rhythm section of Alan Robert and Sal Abruscato are tighter than ever, bringing the ‘Through and Through’, and set closer ‘Underground’ to life.

There is no other band quite like Life Of Agony, and no one else can bring such an array of feelings out of an audience. They are rejuvenated, and have more fire than many of the bands who have returned in recent years. With a new album on the way this year and a live performance as passionate as tonight’s, Life Of Agony are still hungry, and above all still relevant. It’s a pleasure to have them back.