Practically 26 years to the day that alternative metal act Life of Agony released its debut, River Runs Red, the band is set to deliver its sixth studio album, The Sound of Scars, on Oct. 11 (Napalm Records).
The Sound of Scars picks up where 1993’s River Runs Red left off with melodic, hardcore tracks that flow beyond the original story of a teen who attempts to end his life. The aftermath of that event is played out in audio snippets and song — much like River’s format — as a survivor still coping with his troubled past. Starting with “Prelude,” Scars opens the same way that Red eerily ended, with the sound of blood dripping on water, then shifts into the events following that fateful decision. Like River moved through its audio labeled “Monday,” “Thursday” and “Friday” documenting the teen’s troubled life — losing a job and a girlfriend, learning that he wasn’t graduating and living with a verbally abusive parent — Scars continues with “Then” (where he’s revived at a hospital), “Now” (his wife reaching out to his doctor) and “When,” where we find him in the doctor’s office trying to fight his demons and the scars before visceral closing “I Surrender.”
Originally, Scars (which was produced by Sylvia Massy, known for her work on Tool’s 1993 debut, Undertow, and with System of the Down and Cage the Elephant, and co-produced by band guitarist Joey Z.) didn’t start out as another concept album. But according to bassist Alan Robert, several songs in there were clear underlying themes of survival that steered it in that direction. As longtime fans of Pink Floyd, Life of Agony was always open to making a concept album, and while it wasn’t intentional at first for Scars, much like River, the story just started unfolding naturally as they started working on the record. “That’s always been an aspiration of ours, to create something almost cinematic as far as the audio is concerned, creating these audio scenes that connect the story,” says Robert. “It’s just something that’s really compelling to us.”