Deathcore band, In the Midst of Lions (ITMOL), has moved up to the "major league" of the Facedown family for the release of their second album, The Heart of Man. ITMOL proved themselves with Out of Darkness on Strike First Records and was brought up to Facedown for the follow up. This album brings everything a deathcore fan could possible want to the table; with that being said, they bring nothing new either.
Let's start by saying that the most impressive thing about ITMOL is their undying faith and devotion to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. This rings true on every song; there is no attempt to veil what they are about from beginning to end of the entire album. Though it will be hard to understand the message through all of the monstrous, guttural growls and the high-pitched shrieks, the truth of God is constantly there. The song "Released," for instance, talks about the coming end of times, the wrath of God, and the deception of the beast. After all of this, singer Matt Janssen gives a reminder, "But fear not! A release has been provided through a Savior, sacrificed for us. A release has been provided from His wrath. Thus fear not."
Now, on to the music... ITMOL offers up heavy riffs, technical guitar work, massive breakdowns, and pummeling blast beats in buckets; unfortunately, it is the exact same music you will hear on any other deathcore album. There are a couple of things, such as some spoken word segments (like in "Abandonment") and even some clean background vocals (like near the end of "Released"), that do set them slightly apart from similar bands in the genre. The musicianship is solid throughout. The music doesn't come across as overly easy guitar riffs played fast and heavy to make you think it's technical; these guys legitimately sound like solid musicians, giving you an overall enjoyable listening experience.
Though there is nothing mind blowing or groundbreaking on this record, it's a fun listen and a solid outing for a band that still seems to be coming into their own. A couple listens will have you thinking that ITMOL has the ability to be something more than your average deathcore band. They already have an incredible leg up with their amazingly spirit-filled lyrics. If they continue to evolve musically, they have a real shot at setting themselves apart. If you're a fan of bands like The Faceless, Meshuggah, and Veil of Maya, you will absolutely love this record. If you're looking for something fresh and new, you are probably are going to want to pass this one up for now.
- Review date: 7/31/10, written by Michael Weaver of Jesusfreakhideout.com