Life of Agony 1989-1999

It’s probably for the best that Life of Agony called it quits after an insipid third album (Soul Searching Sun). It led to the departure of singer Keith Caputo, who was unceremoniously replaced by Whitfield Crane (Ugly Kid Joe), as well as a sound so watered down, it was but a shadow of what made them great. There’s no dispute over the depths of depression LOA mined on their debut, River Runs Red, and flirted with on their less worthy sophomore release Ugly. Featuring a majority of pre-River Runs Red demo tracks, Ugly B-sides and thankfully only one contribution from Soul Searching Sun, 1989-1999 succeeds best in giving a glimpse into Life of Agony’s evolution from New York-style moshcore into the band that (along with Type O Negative) redefined metallic negativity in the early ’90s. Tracks like “3 Companions,” “Dancing with the Devil,” “Depression” and “Drowning” are only a shade less suicide-inducing than anything on River Runs Red. Other bonuses include a cover of Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song,” live versions of Ugly staples “Lost at 22” and “I Regret,” and a cover of Stormtroopers of Death’s “March of the S.O.D./Sgt ‘D’ and the S.O.D.” While not the final nail in the coffin of LOA (a live unplugged album is pending), this is how the band should be remembered. (Roadrunner)