Album Review :
In The Midst of Lions - The Heart of Man

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Band: In The Midst of Lions
Title: The Heart of Man
Label: Facedown Records
Release Date: August 3, 2010
Review By: Steve
Track Listing:
1. The Heart Of Man
2. The Pharisaic Heart
3. The Machine
4. Abandonment
5. Opposition
6. At The Feet Of Creation
7. Released
8. Defiance
9. Home
10. Fearless
11. An Awakening
12. Reborn

In The Midst of Lions is continuing the current Facedown Records artist trend of releasing an album a year after their last album. And like the rest, ITMOL has created a wonderful album. In 2009, ITMOL released their debut album Out of Darkness on Facedown’s developmental label Strike First Records. Out of Darkness was a huge hit for the St. Louis based death metal quintet (You can read the IVM review here). Now ITMOL is now on Facedown Records and releasing their much anticipated sophomore album The Heart of Man.

Musically, ITMOL continues their combination of slow chugging typical death metal with some speed and ferocity laced in here and there to really keep you from getting bored. Once you think that the slow chugging riffs are all ITMOL has, they kick it in to high gear and speed bag your eardrums with some double bass and technical guitars. One thing that I immediately noticed between Out of Darkness and The Heart of Man was better production on The Heart of Man. They recorded The Heart of Man with Jamie King who has recorded albums for Between the Buried and Me and fellow label mate For Today. Secondly, The Heart of Man seems to be a bit more technical than Out of Darkness. I guess the point I am trying to make is that there is no “sophomore slump” for ITMOL.

One of the things I like most about ITMOL is their almost worship-like lyrics and their unashamed love for Christ that comes pouring out of their music. Vocally, Matt does a great job of mixing in some high-pitched screams with his excellent low-end growls. Mix Matt’s vocal prowess with the increased technicality and brutality of ITMOL’s instruments and you have one solid album.

There are several notable tracks on this album for me. In no specific order they are: “The Machine,” “Opposition,” “At The Feet Of Creation,” “Released,” and “Fearless.” “Released” is my favorite track on the album due to its complete brutality and by the faint clean vocals that are sung in the background of the last minute of the track. The faint clean vocals just really seem to mix in well with the rest of the track and made “Released” stand out to me. As with many Christian death metal bands, “Released” is about the end of the world. The other stand out tracks have great messages as well: “The Machine” is about greed, “Opposition” is about reaping what we sow, “At The Feet Of Creation” is about restoring our hope in Christ, and “Fearless” is about not being ashamed of your love for Christ in the midst of adversity. In “Fearless,” Matt has some great lyrics that should encourage all of us, “Blessed are those who are persecuted. And blessed are those who will stand for You. These men thirst for blood, they are my enemies. Drive out the fear that has taken my heart. They cast their stones and lies are on their tongues. I make this oath: my words will never denounce You. What can these men do to me? They can kill my body but never kill my soul. And even now, staring death in the face, my heart will not stray. I am not afraid to die!”

Overall: In The Midst of Lions have created one of the best death metal albums of 2010 so far. The Heart of Man is a sonically crushing album that will make their current fans ecstatic and bring in a slew of new fans. ITMOL does a wonderful job of mixing slow grinding death metal with fast paced technical that will leave you wanting more.