REVIEW: Like Statues – Hell [EP/2015]


Artist: Like Statues

Album: Hell – EP


It only takes a handful of milliseconds after your final breath escapes your lips for you to be plunged into an abyss more foul than any your living brain could have ever imagined. Within moments, every instance of moral bankruptcy (and there were several) that haunted your existence on earth comes back to sicken your soul like a disease, shredding your sanity into confetti and spreading it to every corner of the cess pit you now call home. You have been cast into hades—the pit of souls, the underworld, or, as you more likely know it—Hell. The breakout EP by Michigan nu-metalcore act Like Statues sentences the listener to a similar fate. Damning their ears with track after track of relentless evil and ravaging intensity, Hell is a dynamic, diverse listen that sees this Detroit-based quintet incorporating elements ranging from bouncy, bold groove metal to blistering, depressive nu-metal and metalcore into a melting pot of hard-hitting metal that effortlessly dashes the listener’s skull against the pavement and lets their brain seep into the sewer—so they can truly join these devilish Detroiters in the belly of Hell itself.

Hell takes the listener on a tour of evil and aggressive musical styles as if they are a figurative Dante Alighieri and Like Statues are Virgil. While only seven tracks long, Hell spans styles from nu metal to beatdown hardcore, touching on thrash, death and groove metal in between. Every track on Like Statues’ EP takes a slightly different approach in attacking the listener with boundless aggression—however, no matter what style the quintet choose to emphasize, the result is the same: absolute carnage. Percussionist Tyler LaBeau serves as Like Statues’ sturdy backbone—with the heavily nu-influenced speed behind “Gluttony” lighting the listener’s ears ablaze and the beefy bass drum patterns in “Wrath” leaving the listener mangled. LaBeau’s kick pedal may as well have meat tenderizers for mallets, because the duration of Hell sees his kit laying into the listener with a bone-crunching, flesh-shredding fervor that makes slaughterhouses seem like playgrounds. However, LaBeau’s lurid kick and looming toms are not alone in providing a murky, muddy low end—as bassist Vinnie Qualls works side-by-side with LaBeau to build a burly, brooding foundation for the remainder of Like Statues to build upon. “Wrath,” as well as “Heathen” see this done especially well—as Qualls’ crushing bass grooves in perfect harmony with LaBeau’s catchy patterns and cracking snare drum. Hell is more than just a hectic low end and bruising breakdowns, however. Guitarists Robert Gibbons and Mikey Graham provide a vast majority of the diversity that makes Hell such a hit. “Wrath” and “Heathen” have their roots firmly planted in heavier, hardcore-tinted metallic styles, while “Gluttony” is fast and punchy, and the epic title track filling in the spaces in between, using its full five-minute run time to touch on snails-pace breakdowns and skin-flaying speed both. Gibbons and Graham may not hypnotize the listener with over-the-top shred, but they are far from monotonous, giving Like Statues a creative edge that will still succeed in summoning spin-kicking scenesters and crowdkilling hardcore crews out of thin air.

With a manic musical backdrop, Like Statues rely on grisly, gut-wrenching vocals and immersive lyrical content to add depth to Hell. Loosely conceptual, Hell takes the listener on a depressive tour through the mind of a man sentenced to burn in…well, you guessed it: Hell. When it comes to capturing the tortured, bitter, self-loathing agony of the EP’s protagonist, frontman Chris Fortuna is spot-on. Every syllable on Hell is strained, grating the listener’s ears like sandpaper. Dominating a majority of the album with stressed mid-range yells, Fortuna dives frequently into gurgled, low bellows and occasional shrieking screams, giving even more diversity to an already dynamic and entertaining release. While every track is an outstanding testament to Fortuna’s skill, “Hell” is likely the best example—not only for its guest feature, but for its duration giving Fortuna even more time to awe the listener with his array of highs, lows and everything in between. Working side-by-side with The Plot In You’s Landon Tewers, it becomes just how apparent Fortuna’s talent is, as his verses are just as catchy and soul-smothering as Tewers’—if not more so.

Hell is a comprehensive lesson in diversity done perfectly. Every track is captivating on myriad levels: vocal range, lyrical content and musical styling. “Wrath” lives up to its name, inspiring violence for the sake of violence with visceral, shrill shouts and groove-tinted breakdowns that swing through the listener’s head like a wrecking ball. However, if the listener wants to get a one-song listen for what Like Statues are all about, they need look no further than “Hell.” With a climactic breakdown that would make most downtempo deathcore acts look like lightweights, and lyrics that are perfectly written to rival Fortuna’s intense vocal talents, “Hell” is the crown jewel of Like Statues’ EP, giving five full minutes of energy, aggression and malevolence without filler—making it a perfect archetype for the album as a whole.

With Like Statues’ breakout EP, there is no choice between Heaven or Hell—only the latter. Pissed off and punishing, Hell is every bit as scalding and fearsome as it’s namesake, making it a must-listen for fans of heavy music and metal of any type.



For Fans Of: Zealot, Barrier, Sworn In, ‘Sabella, Victims

By: Connor Welsh