Brooklyn's Life of Agony surfaced in 1989 when singer Keith Caputo, guitarist Joey Zampella, and bassist Alan Robert, took the New York underground scene by storm. They quickly perfected their angst-filled hybrid of Heavy Metal and Hardcore, obtaining a devoted audience in the process. On the eve of signing with Roadrunner Records, the band recruited former Type O Negative drummer Sal Abruscato as a permanent member. The end result was the first Life Of Agony album “River Runs Red”, which became an instant classic. Thanks to their straight-up energy and aggression in a crossover format, the group toured extensively upon its release.
Once the tour was completed, Life Of Agony went back into the studio to work on their next album titled "Ugly", which signaled a complete change of the band's signature Heavy sound. The album resembled the sounds of the alternative stars of the day, especially Stone Temple Pilots, which the record-buying public didn’t favor. Regardless of the record sales, Life O Agony was still able to retain their audience and the resulting tour was a success. Evidence of this success were their tours with Ozzy Osbourne, Korn, Type O Negative, and Anthrax. After the end of the tour, drummer Sal Abruscato exited the band and was replaced by Dan Richardson (formerly from Pro Pain/Crumbsuckers). Their next release was "Soul Searching Sun", which followed the same formula as its predecessor, and was again met by a varied response.
Before the band was scheduled to go on tour, singer Keith Caputo left the group because his heart was no longer in the music. The other band members were crushed, but because of their commitments with the record label, they needed to fill the spot right away. Former Ugly Kid Joe vocalist Whitfield Crane, who had told Joey Z during an Anthrax show about his intentions to play heavier music, filed Caputo’s shoes.
The new lineup only had one week to rehearse and get to know each other musically. Once the tour ended, they went back to the studio and decided that they didn't want to continue as Life of Agony without Caputo. They even flirted with the idea of having their bassist Alan Robert singing and having Stuck Mojo bassist Corey Lowery fill his spot. This strategy never worked and the band disbanded in April of 1999.
In 2003, the original lineup reunited for two shows. The reunion led to a live album titled "River Runs Again", followed by a studio album titled "Broken Valley" (released in June 2005).
In 2009, Life of Agony performed their legendary debut album "River Runs Red" in front of a sold out crowd in Brussels Belgium. They filmed the concert in its entirety, and later released a CD/DVD package titled "20 Years Strong: River Runs Red, Live in Brussels".
Now on a more personal note: In January 1998, I went to see Life Of Agony in Toronto not to long after coming back from Italy. Excited as I was about finally going to see the band that got me through some very rough times in my life, everything from addiction to dealing with my father’s death. Nothing could have prepared me for what I was about to experience on that stage. That night I saw two amazing bands: Megadeth and Life Of Agony...
So the show starts with “River Runs Red”, but what I heard was totally noticeable. Everyone started saying: “Hey that’s not Keith!” “What the fuck?!” Apparently no one was informed that Keith had left the band, man was I pissed! After waiting for so long to see Life Of Agony... and I get Whitfield Crane instead of Keith Caputo. I was never a fan of Ugly Kid Joe and I certainly was not going to like him singing Keith's songs. There was only one thing left to do to show my frustration, and this is when I noticed one thing: everyone was just as frustrated as I was! So what do I do next? I start a “We want Keith” chant. Crane definitely saw and heard the crowds discomfort, as Toronto raised their middle fingers instead of their horns, demanding Keith Caputo. I had no choice but to enjoy the instrumental aspect of the show. With that being said, I hope that Life Of Agony can come back to Toronto at and give me the concert I so badly want to see.
No matter what, I am and will always be a fan of Life Of Agony for life! And for that I raise both hands in the air and give this band the Horns Up!!!! Cheers.
Life Of Agony
Johnny Demone (Horns Up Rocks correspondent in Toronto, Canada) \m/