So I get this new Life Of Agony DC, Broken Valley. I’m expecting some resemblance to the dark, low and moody sounds more than ten years ago. After this long of a gap I expected them to have tempered that dark, brooding feel with at least some semblance of a tempo. After all, their sophomore effort, Ugly, was a far cry from rhythmic. Ten years can to a lot with a band. Life Of Agony is no exception. This may be the original cast of characters but they are a completely different band now. Gone are the days of dark brooding melodies. This is not the same band, not even close. If you want to hear that sort of music go buy their first album, River Runs Red.
Something of note here is that even though they aren’t the same band they don’t suck either. In fact, they have a pretty tight sound. No, that’s not right. They have an extremely tight sound. From the way they arranged each piece it appeared they had locked themselves up for those ten long years and practiced at reinventing themselves.
The downside of that is that place they locked themselves up in had a full collection of Stone Temple Pilots CDs. On the first listen through of the album I counted about ten times I wanted to take the CD out of the player and verify I wasn’t listening to an STP album; a damn good STP album at that.
Maybe it was just me but most of the songs sounded as if they were made to honor a different band. My wife picked up the first one, “It sounds like that alien song”. Actually, it was Aerials by System Of A Down that she meant to say. I had to agree with her. Let me compile a list:
1. Love to let you down: Aerials – System of a down
2. Last Cigarette: STP
3. Wicket Ways: Veruca Salt – One Last Time
4. Don’t bother: One time a thing occurred to me…wait…wrong STP song.
5. Strung Out: Completely Original
6. Junk Sick: Sugar teat?…more STP
7. The Calm That Disturbs You: Starts off like Robert Trujillo from Metallica then trails off.
8. No One Survives: Pink Floyd – The Wall or Dark Side Of The Moon
9. Justified: Starts off like Zombie from the Cranberries then trails off.
10. The Day He Died: Yet More STP
11. Broken Valley: Something off The Crow soundtrack – It Can’t Rain All The Time
12. Room 244: The other LOA
Now that I’ve dissected the album to the best of my abilities I really hope I didn’t spoil it for anybody. In fact, I hope this challenges you to go out and see for yourselves because it’s a pretty good album overall. After the third time through the album I found myself starting to sing along to songs 1-6, 10 while I’m trying to critique everything.
What about songs 7-9, 11, 12? Well, the backup vocals ruined 7. Sorry guys, let Keith Caputo sing and the rest of you should stick to your instruments. 8, 12 were fillers. I wish they had turned into songs. Finally, 9 and 11 were just too soft to suit the rest of the album.
The band aside there was one element that stuck out in my mind. The mixing was almost perfect. I say almost because whoever was mixing things seems to have made a slight mistake with vocals clarity. I’m not sure if they needed to push the vocals just a hair louder or if there’s some magic clarity knob on the soundboard that got bumped, but it was just slightly muffled. Not too much, though. Mind you, I was singing along to half the album by the end of my reviews so it wasn’t that bad.
Okay, I’ve covered the band, the songs and the mixing. The last major point that usually gets ignored: Album Art. Three things stand out here:
1. This album looks like it was stepped on. That is a completely new concept for me. I would never have thought of doing that. Excellent idea!
2. Whoever did the lettering needed to do something with the Broken Valley words. If you don’t look for them the dark, thin, red lines blend into the black background.
3. The behind the CD art is always my favorite. It’s like a hidden surprise. What is it you may ask? I’m not telling. That would ruin the surprise. I will say that is was the right piece to put there. Nice choice to whoever thought of it.
Well, that about wraps this review up. If I had to give it a number I’d give it an 8 out of 10. If this had been just on the first half of the CD I’d have given it a 9.5.
As one last note this may be because I haven’t really put any CDs in my computer in a while, but if you do be sure to have DirectX 9 installed. There’s some extra stuff in digital.