Spiritual Deception
Semitae Mentis

While power and black metal was/has often been the primary vehicles for keyboards/ orchestration in metal, I still fondly recall some of my early exposure to more epic keys and orchestration (not just intros or a bit here or there for atmosphere) in death metal such as Nocturnus (arguably the first to do so?), Amorphis, Edge of Sanity, Therion, Crematory, Septicflesh, Phlebotomized and Hollenthon.

And then more brutal bands like Luciferion, The Monolith Deathcult, Agiel, Lykathea Aflame, and Scrambled Defuncts started getting in on the act. They are far more commonplace now with bands like Singularity, Immanifest, Mordant Rapture and Fleshgod Apocalypse, who are arguably the bar for the style. And let’s not even get into the symphonic deathcore offshoot….

So here is Italy’s Spiritual Deception and they, like countrymates Fleshgod Apocalypse have taken more brutal, technical death metal that’s commonplace in Italy, and added an array of orchestration and choirs over everything. The end result inevitably imbues Fleshgod, but also a more chaotic, unhinged tone like the aforementioned Scrambled Defuncts.

Though formed from the ashes of metalcore band Humans AblazeSpiritual Deception shows the band has some innate influence from their Italian brutal/tech death brethren like Vomit the Soul, Bloodtruth, Antropofagus and of course Hour of Penance (aided by a Stefano Morabito production/mix/master). But these guys aren’t quite on that level as far as the sharp, savagery of tech death elitism. But.. they are pretty good, and certainly a little more chaotic, discordant, and unpredictable.

And a lot of that chaotic tone is from the orchestration which is far more in the Scrambled Defuncts wheelhouse as opposed to the sweeping, cinematic Zimmer/score-like hues of say, Francesco Ferrini (Fleshgod). It’s a little more jarring and off-kilter, though still pretty epic at times, and certainly gives the discordant, churning death metal a unique flavor.

Luc Lemay (Gorguts) and Karl Sanders (Nile) show up to play some guitars on a couple of tracks, to give you some idea of some of the influences at play in the death metal backbone. And at times it really hits the spot such as in “The Days of Sleep”, Middle Eastern injected “Thousand Lives Within” (with Karl Sanders of course), “Individuality Dissolves” or 9 minute closer “…to the Coldest Decline (Decadence pt. IV)”. Even if the orchestration and choirs sound a bit programmed and (well, the whole production really) not truly organic or natural. And sometimes it gets a bit too chaotic or unstructured (i.e.”Beyond Perception and Matter”, “On the Edge of Sleep”), but it’s still enjoyable.

Ultimately Semitae Mentis has been one of my go-to albums for this early stage of 2024, I mean it has keyboards, of course, so I’m going to love it. We will see if it is in play and the end of the year and has enough lasting power when it comes time to albums of the year.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
February 29th, 2024


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