For fans of the saturated deathcore genre, I give you In the Midst of Lions and their new release, Shadows. I’m gonna be honest, this is your run-of-the-mill generic deathcore album; full of guttural vocals, breakdowns to the brink and chugs. So many chugs.
Well, rather than focus on the apparent negatives that displease so many of us metal fans, let’s focus on the positives first. Compared to their last record The Heart of Man, the production value has stepped up tremendously. You can actually hear the band’s bassist this time around above the other instruments. The mix is very satisfying to listen to. Also, if you’re a fan of the sort-of preachy religious context, then you’ll definitely be digging this. This comes standard with an album from the band, and this one is no different. Each member of this band does what they do well. The vocals are done well, the guitars/bass are crisp and thick and the drums are spot on.
Where this album fails is just the sheer repetition of its entirety. I mean, the whole thing is practically a breakdown. The clean vocals that were prevalent on earlier releases are gone, trade-for-trade with growl after growl. The songs tend to run together into giant blobs, which is a huge negative for bands trying to break into this genre successfully. I guess when you’re trying to find something to latch on to with this type of music, there has to be something that sticks out. This is inherently tough. Thankfully, there are a few.
Album opener “False Idols” starts with a pretty lengthy breakdown. Followed by a long two-step section, hardcore kids will be ecstatic when they hear this. Moving on, “The Call” runs with nearly the same format, except there is a pretty sweet pinch-harmonic loaded beast of a breakdown near the 1:10 mark. The intro in “Take Your Place” has a great energy attached to it, and keeps it up throughout the whole song. “Overcome” has to be the best song on the album, although that is hard to distinguish. The guitars are really what keep this one grounded, because technical riffage is good riffage, especially when it’s done right. “Cry of the Oppressed” features one of the most badass examples of guitar work as a whole, but then immediately follows with a breakdown, like every single song does. It’s such a beatdown, and not in a good way. Bands have got to come up with more originality than this, because it has gotten so stale.
For the album’s second half, “An Offering,” is just sick with the way it starts; I could listen to that intro over and over. After two more generic repeats of the earlier tracks, we make our way to the closer, “One For All.” If every song was as technical as this one, this album would be much better. Unfortunately, they just have not gotten there yet as musicians for me to make that call. Finishing the album with one last ginormous breakdown, it ends abruptly; and I’m glad it did.
I can appreciate great metal. There is tons of it out there, but when it follows the same format recycled by every single metal/deathcore band, I get discouraged. You can do better than this, guys. Hopefully, the next album (which judging by their release history will be 2012) will be more technical and have more goals than just beating in the listener’s face and ears. Trust me, if the saturation that has surrounded us is any indication of what’s to come, then I’m scared. Good luck next time around.