Life Of Agony
Plus support: Aaron Buchanan & The Cult Classics and Blood Runs Deep
Birmingham O2 Institute 2
Friday 22nd September 2017
Life Of Agony have always been a band who have done things on their own terms and despite a few turbulent years for them which saw them out of action and pursuing other avenues, they are back in 2017 with a vengeance, with a renewed energy and triumphantly blasting out their anthems both old and new. They are ready to show fans both long term and recent, exactly why they are held on such high regard.
Having just released their well received comeback album A Place Where There’s No More Pain, their first album in twelve years, The Brooklyn heroes are back in the UK for the tour in support of this comeback LP and ready to show Birmingham what they’re made of.
First up though were two upcoming acts and both served as unmissable appetizers to tonight’s main event and although both completely different bands, they both gave enthralling performances and should be checked out as soon as possible.
First up were Blood Runs Deep, who lyrically if not sonically, are on a par with the headliners earlier and darker material and get the night started on the right note. Although the room is initially quiet on this Friday night due to the extremely early gig start, it’s starts to fill up throughout the bands set with eager onlookers transfixed by the somber noise that emits from the stage. The Swiss bands mixture of gothic doom and post-metal with an air of melody was definitely enthralling. On record, Blood Runs Deep could be confidently described as melancholic and although that description is relevant when talking about the band in the live arena, there is an air of hope and triumph about their music too.
The bands set is hypnotic with the bands songs played with so much power and drummer in particular, is mesmerism to watch and hear. Keyboard flourishes augment the bands sound and the whole effect is fantastic. Blood Runs Deep leave the best till last with a stunning rendition of the largely instrumental track From Here To Nowhere that leaves the audience speechless with its Neurosis meets Cult Of Luna-esque vibe and tribal power and this was a truly epic conclusion to an eye opening set and those who had arrived early were treated to something special.
Aaron Buchanan & The Cult Classics were up next and offered something less dark to proceedings but still as enthralling in an enjoyable set. The band are headed by Aaron Buchanan, of course and the ex frontman of British rockers Heavens Basement proved himself to be one hell of a frontman and he headed up a band of talented musicians with consummate flair and ease. This is prime anthemic rock and certainly got the energy levels going with Buchanan, resplendent in a sparkly gold jacket animated from the get go and despite an air of flamboyance, he gave off an air of down to earthiness, especially when declaring “forget my stupid name, We’re The Cult Classics“.
It is his voice and epic wail that is the bands calling point recalling Glenn Hughes, Freddie Mercury and Chris Cornell at points, it’s that powerful. Songs like All The Things You’ve Said And Done and a rendition of Heavens Basement song I’m Electric boast big grooves and even bigger riffs with the band in animated form and once again, the bands drummer was insane behind the kit and his hard hitting style gave the bands sound even more power. The Cult Classics look as if they are having so much fun onstage and the energy is emphatic.
The band invite friend Mitchell Emms, vocalist in hard rockers The Treatment onstage for a spirited run through of Them Bones by Alice In Chains which went down well with the crowd and the band ended their set with Morals? And left the stage knowing they’d won a lot of new fans with the Life Of Agony audience in Birmingham.
After those two great performances, it was time for the return of Life Of Agony, the band have been firm favourites since their inception in the early nineties and the fans in attendance tonight roar their support as the band take the stage and blast straight into the title track from their debut album River Runs Red to huge cheers. That great start is quickly followed by another track from their debut in This Time and the reaction is just as ecstatic.
The band look visibly pleased to be back onstage doing what they do best and give the crowd a masterclass in hardcore tinged metal with each member giving their all, guitarist Joey Z and bassist Alan Robert move from side to side of the stage in an energetic fashion constantly as Sal Abruscato holds things down on drums and makes it three out of three tonight for showcasing impressive and powerful drumming techniques. Mina Caputo, meanwhile is a captivating frontwoman whose vocals seem to get better with age and the mix from the earlier material to the newer stuff is handled with ease and grace. Caputo jokes with the audience that they are too well behaved as they are getting old and teats the audience like an old friend, chiding and joking with them for the duration of the bands set. When a heckler shouts something to her, they are chastised for their accent as a “Brooklyn accent is better than an English one” and despite the sometimes harrowing subject matters that Life Of Agony’s songs take, it is good to see humour coming out between songs.
Life Of Agony mix material from all stages of their career with Lost At 22, Weeds, World Gone Mad and from the new album, Dead Speak Kindly being particular highlights but the whole set is delivered with passion, fire and a good dose of humour throughout and the audience lap it up.
The too short set (and the only thing that could be said that is bad about it, is that it hasn’t lasted much longer) ends perfectly with the band going back again to that classic debut with the mighty Through And Through and the closing Underground sending the fans home happy.
Life Of Agony are back and on is form, they better not be going anywhere again and they give their hardcore fans in Birmingham tonight a taste of their past, present and future in a fun and heartfelt set.
Photography by Dominique Brinkley