St. Louis natives In the Midst of Lions have come up with some great work for their sophomore release, The Heart of Man. Greatness is expected of any band that signs to Facedown Records, and ITMOL don’t let the label down by any means.
The band is composed of five talented musicians who have the ability to keep their music fresh and who have successfully put out an album that can be listened to from start to finish. Facedown sees the band comparable to The Faceless, and I find this conjecture to be spot on. I think their frequent use of harmonic minor scales also bring a sound similar to For Today.
This album has just about any characteristic a listener could look for: quick paced parts complete with ripping solos, riffs with a groove, commanding vocals, thrashing chugs, and pit-motivating breakdowns. Flawless drumming is flooded throughout the album.
After having the album for just short of a week, The Heart of Man has been just about all I’ve listened to. My favorite track at this point is, “Released.” It begins at an intense pace as the guitarists demand attention with a fast harmonic minor riff accompanied with impressive drumming. Thirty seconds in, they take it down a notch with a bark from their front man and a triplet to open a string chug alternation that I adore. The lead riff resolves tension and once again drops into another tritone breakdown and china cymbal smashes. As the song goes on, ranges of screams are added to by background vocals that give a nice feel, and the song slows into more ambient riffs that fade to a feeling of conclusion. In my opinion this would’ve been a great finishing track to the album. But the band had much more to say, as is easily noticed after hearing the crushing breakdown they saw perfect for the album’s conclusion.
The next track, “Defiance,” is full of technical and melodic riffs that stay new thanks to varying techniques. Tempo changes are also useful, and a solo that almost sounds like The Faceless could’ve written it leads into an emotionally shouted monologue that I find quite original. It also serves as a great bridge into the following track, “Home.”
In the Midst of Lions unquestionably know what they are doing with their writing, and demand great attention from new listeners. I am sure that most who enjoy the genre will be more than satisfied with just one listening, and will find more to love each time they listen. They show through technical and well thought-out playing that they aren’t just a band trying to be heavy. Some may find the religious lyrics overwhelming, but there are plenty more aspects to be fond of if you can bear them. Fittingly enough, ITMOL find themselves alongside For Today, Maylene and the Sons of Disaster, and A Plea for Purging on the Scream the Prayer Tour this summer.