Like Rats Credit: Peter Cook

Chicago’s Like Rats have been at it for more than a decade. Consisting of current and former members of earth-shaking metal and hardcore acts such as Weekend Nachos, Hate Force, and High Priest, the band started as a brutal, tough-guy hardcore act. But by their second full-length, 2016’s II, they’d begun to incorporate overtly heavy tones and death-grunt vocals into their powerviolence-leaning punk. And the brand-new Death Monolith (Hibernation Release) feels like the band just threw up their hands and said, “Fuck it, we’re a death-metal band now!” The album has all the best hallmarks of classic death metal: never-ending double-bass-drum assaults, animalistic vocals, and relentlessly evil riffing. It also has enough fresh flavor to rank among the best albums of the modern era; Like Rats can grind like Pissgrave and slam like Sanguisugabogg. The production is clear and mean, the rhythms swing with beatdown ferocity, and everyone’s playing is next-level sharp. Death Monolith is an excellent turn for one of Chicago’s best and heaviest acts—here’s hoping they keep plowing down that path.   v