From its earliest days scouring the streets of Brooklyn and dominating mosh pits, Life of Agony’s music has traversed innermost afflictions and myriad depressive states, fueled with the home-bound angst caused by traumatic childhood upbringings. But in the upcoming documentary The Sound of Scars (which will premiere April 16 as a limited two-week stream), the alt metal band faces all of its demons and conquers many of them.
“The music we create is like the ayahuasca vine,” says vocalist Mina Caputo. “It allows you to confront demons.”
Helmed by British director Leigh Brooks, The Sound of Scars captures the most intimate story of the Brooklyn-bred act, spanning its 30-plus-year career. Told through the individual and collective stories of Caputo; her cousin, guitarist Joey Z; and bassist Alan Robert, along with family and friends, in its most visceral scenes, the documentary opens wounds Life of Agony long needed to expose and ultimately heal.
“This was an opportunity to actually have these conversations after all these years, and it’s a new plateau for us as a family to actually address some of these issues,” says Robert of the film and his own long-term battle with depression. “I was so bottled up during those years that the only way to express myself was through these songs. Even now, I have a happy life with my family, but I still experience these dark days. At least I can talk about it now, and it’s easier to get out of that hole.”
Robert says the band was inspired to make the film after seeing the 2017 Ian McFarland-helmed Agnostic Front documentary The Godfathers of Hardcore. Working with Brooks, a longtime fan who first saw the band perform at the now-closed London Astoria in 1996, was a natural choice. Brooks brings a deep familiarity to the project, having already worked on several Life of Agony music videos. He pulled from archived and rare footage (some shared by the band, which had bins of VHS tapes of performance footage that needed to be converted) of never-before-seen interviews, photographs and other vignettes.
Filmed over a two-year period and across several countries while Life of Agony was on and off the road, Brooks also spent time with the group at their old Brooklyn haunts, including Coney Island and Lenny and John’s Pizzeria. In revisiting the now-defunct L’Amour, the venue where the band built its early following, Brooks worked with a visual FX team to develop an exterior rendering to bring the Brooklyn nightclub, now an army factory called Red Wolf, back to life for the film.