While His Hero Is Gone simply repeated the production approach taken with the first 7" and 15 Counts of Arson, the end result is a masterpiece: a tight, cohesive, thought provoking call for change from street level. Like 15 counts of Arson, Monuments to Thieves was recorded at Polymorph in Oakland, CA, by Dan Rathburn. While the musical approach is the same -- a driving crusty punk approach similar to Damad -- the songwriting and confidence displayed on this recording are completely irrefutable. The lyrical direction is still personal, but taking on personal responsibility for the problems in wreckage in modern life is the consistent theme in "The Mess," "Stacks," and especially "Disease of Ease" ("We've all been inflicted with the disease of ease/comfort, stable mediocrity...march on like zombies/sway complacently"). The notion of the potential for change in taking an individual stand against the problems we face sparkles with glimmers of hope in Like Weeds, where Todd Burdette intones "as our lives unfold/and convictions are old/the real truth is told/and like weeds we will grow." Ultimately though, Monuments is a terrible realization that the history that we are taught in school reinforces thought patterns and social attitudes that reinforce institutional racism and oppression of the poorer classes by a rich and predominantly white elite. Heralding from Memphis, TN, a southern city rich in its own shameful history and monuments to oppression, His Hero Is Gone acknowledge this negative past. In the title track, "Monuments to Thieves," Burdette growls: "statues built for bastards/monuments to thieves/who carved the name of the white man/on the backs of the trees/that hung black bodies like ornaments." Behind these lyrics lies a vision of a revolution, where individual people take responsibility, rise up to topple oppression "like weeds," and, in "Cavities," destroy the statues and monuments to this oppressive history, because "just as flesh heads will hang/stone heads will roll." Monuments to Thieves may be more of the same from this amazing band, but it's so much more.
AllMusic Review by Paul Kott