Life Of Agony

20 Years Strong: River Runs Red - Live In Brussels CD/DVD

Written by: PP on 05/08/2010 03:58:30

All the way back in 1993, Life Of Agony released a classic 90s album that eventually became the jewel of their back catalogue, their infamous debut "River Runs Red". I'm sure many of you own that album; it was one of those essential crossover albums to own that eventually drove the band into a more grungy sound throughout the 90s. The band decided to play the entirety of the record on a couple of US dates, and the response was so overwhelming that they decided to do it in Europe, too, a couple of months ago. April, to be precise, when they performed "River Runs Red" faithfully from start to finish - even including the sampled phone-call interludes like "Monday" and "Thursday" - at a sold out, 2000-capacity Ancienne Belgique, in Brussels, Belgium. The result? "20 Years Strong: River Runs Red - Live in Brussels", a CD/DVD combo that's guaranteed to be a treat to any Life Of Agony fan.

The show was recorded with as many as ten cameras to cover all possible angles, which is an excellent idea for any band's DVD. It's just too bad that the editing is equally horrible to Roskilde Festival's live footage on the big screens. You're only given about 1-2 seconds of each camera before another - usually completely opposite - angle is thrown in, making it impossible to gain an overview of what's going on. From the brief glimpses that I was able to figure out, it looks like the band is playing a solid show, with lots of energy and Keith Caputo's frenetic, drug-infused dance craze as the centerpiece to the show. He does everything a good frontman should do: whispers the vocals when he needs a response, collapses on stage during emotional passages, even hops down to the barrier towards the end of the set, which is incidentally also the only moment where one angle is given enough time for the viewer to get a full idea of what's actually happening.

Musically, the band are rocking out like it was the 90s again, giving hits and nostalgic moments about the grunge/alternative movement back when vocalists were proper rock stars. The crowd is reasonably well in the mix, as a faint echo follows more or less every lyric coming out of Caputo's mouth, and whenever the cameras focus on the crowd, you can tell they're having a great time, be it mosh pits, up-and-down jumping, or crowd surfing over to keep the security guards busy. "L-O-A! L-O-A!" chant is a given after almost every song, that's how much the people are loving it.

Aside from just "River Runs Red", the band has included "Love To Let You Down", "Weeds", and "Lost At 22" as extra material at the end of the set. In other words, the hit singles from the other three studio albums. The set ends in a huge cheer, where the audience is left satisfied, but a DVD viewer such as myself, can't really see what the big deal is all about. Thanks should be sent to the editor, I guess. The bonus material, however, is what's interesting. There's the usual photo set, but the 26 minute "on the road" documentary featuring clips from various European dates, interviews with the band and others is really quite something. Watching bands like Agnostic Front and Biohazard praise the band's album to skies is pretty cool in the beginning, but what really caught my interest was the interviews with the tour crew, showing just how a Life Of Agony show comes to life in a club, a larger venue or a festival. Thumbs up for that.

Now if you're a long time LOA fan, this "live re-issue" of the debut album from 1993 is a nice treat. You don't just get shoddy audio CD - it's in good quality actually - but you also get a pretty good DVD to accompany your purchase. Non LOA fans probably won't find much of interest here, but this should be essential for anyone who proudly wears a t-shirt by these guys regularly.

7

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For the fans of: Biohazard, Stone Temple Pilots, Helmet
Listen: Myspace

Release date 19.07.2010
I Scream Records

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