Brooklyn, NY's Life of Agony formed in 1989. Singer Keith Caputo, guitarist Joey Z., and bassist Alan Robert played the New York underground scene with several different drummers. They perfected their angst-filled hardcore/heavy metal hybrid along the way, obtaining a devoted audience in the process. On the eve of signing with Roadrunner Records, the band enlisted former Type O Negative drummer Sal Abruscato as a permanent member. The resulting album, River Runs Red, was similar to their stage show at the time -- straight-up energy and aggression in a hardcore/thrash format, with shards of heavy metal cutting through at times, and the group toured extensively upon its release.
Once the tour was completed, LOA went directly back into the studio to work on their next album, 1995's Ugly, which signaled a complete overhauling of the band's signature heavy-duty sound. The album resembled the sounds of the alternative stars of the day, especially Stone Temple Pilots, and it wasn't greeted favorably by the record-buying public. LOA were still able to retain their audience, and the resulting tour was a success, as they opened for the likes of Ozzy Osbourne, Korn, Type O Negative, and Anthrax. Drummer Abruscato exited the band after the tour, and was replaced by ex-Pro Pain/Crumbsuckers drummer Dan Richardson. Their next release, 1997's Soul Searching Sun, followed essentially the same formula as its predecessor, and was again met by a varied response.
Keith Caputo left the group before the tour, letting the members know that his heart was no longer in the music. The other bandmembers were crushed, but because of their commitments they needed to fill the spot immediately. At an Anthrax show a few years before, former Ugly Kid Joe vocalist Whitfield Crane had told Joey Z. about his desire to play heavier music, so LOA's manager spoke to Crane and he jumped at the chance. The new lineup had only a week to rehearse, and the bandmembers barely knew Crane when they let him join. Once the tour ended, they went back to the studio to record, only to realize that they no longer wanted to continue as Life of Agony without Caputo. They flirted with the idea of Robert singing with Stuck Mojo bassist Corey Lowery filling his spot, but the lineup was doomed from the start and the band officially disbanded in April of 1999.
That was the final word on Life of Agony until 2003, when the original lineup reunited for two shows. The reunion led to a live album (River Runs Again) as well as the studio effort Broken Valley, issued through Epic Records in June 2005. In 2009, Life Of Agony performed their debut album, River Runs Red, in its entirety as well as other material in front of a sold out house in Brussels, Belgium. They recorded and filmed (via a ten camera shoot) the proceeding. In 2010, I Scream Records released the CD/DVD package, 20 Years Strong: River Runs Red, Live in Brussels.