Sometimes, it is hard to believe I’ve been doing this for 10 years now. So when a new band drops me a link to their debut album with the words “long time follower” included, it feels strange. That has actually started happening quite a bit, and while I don’t always like the music therein, I always listen to it. Deposed King sent me a message like that recently; it was concerning their debut album One Man’s Grief. Now this music—this music I like. The album released on January 12th.
Deposed King hails from Budapest, Hungary. The band is a duo of Daniel Kriffel and Dominique Király. One thing they mentioned in their message was that they strive to create whole new worlds and never to repeat themselves. I find this funny, actually, because the influences they cited tend to do that from album to album—never repeat themselves—but they have managed to do that right here in a single work.
The band has clear influences. I don’t normally like to mention that sort of thing, but it is obvious that they enjoy Steven Wilson and Mariusz Duda in all their incarnations. They mentioned this, too, as well as Olafur Arnalds. The band therefore plays modern progressive rock with deep electronic trappings. All the influences in the world don’t mean anything, though, unless you can compose and play well, and these two certainly do that.
I am floored time and again by how good the writing is here. The album is about half instrumental and half includes vocals. They take us through all sorts of tones and musical ideas, never reprising the same idea again. They tease color, life, and vibrancy out of each idea, too, in ways that are profoundly attractive. Your ears will immediately take to the luscious keys, muscular guitars, and gravy vocals. I find it ironic that at least half of the album is instrumental since the vocals are indeed so damn good.
The band offers songs that can feel playful, bluesy, somber, cinematic, ambient, or dark; many times, these tones come through in a single song. There’s even a moment of harsh vox on one track. The band clearly isn’t afraid to try a wide variety of ideas, and their skill on guitar, bass, and keys really delivers the extra punch all of this needs. I’d even say their programmed drums are done with excellence.
The album has nine tracks, and I love them all. “First Light” and “Last Light” open and close the album respectively, and they are both cinematic tracks with a certain purity and peace within them. The album is definitely emotional, but it begins and ends with hope, I think. “First Light” has such a metro and storytelling vibe to it—I think that’s why I was instantly drawn to this record; “Last Light” is mostly piano and texture, and it is truly gorgeous. You can certainly here a classical influence there.
In between are seven excellent tracks. “Caves” feels like a post-rock tune at first, but it transitions into an ambient void of echoes and shadow. “Endless Hours” introduces vocals to the album, and it has a lush chorus and Porcupine Tree style that gives way to a spiraling electronic rhythm that is seriously addictive. “Path of Forlorn” continues this fantastic run with some vocals, yes, but the majority of the song is a rising wave of edge and crescendo. I think the ambient shuffle in the second half is brilliant.
Four more tracks remain. “Half Light” is a whirling electronic masterpiece that fades back and forth between darkness and piercing light—I absolutely love it. “Fading Shadows” is a casual rocker with a searing guitar solo that sets it apart from the rest. “Sirens of the Sun” is an electronic piece that is beautiful and tonally charming, and it leads right into one of the best songs on the album, “Ceasing to Exist”. This piece is the heaviest on the album and also the longest; it explores some very deep emotions and places, getting rather raw and monstrous in moments. I love the contrasts and the heavy riffs, yet it sort of reminds me of Lunatic Soul overall. I’m not sure why.
Look, if you love progressive rock, I just don’t see how you can go wrong with this debut. Deposed King has a high quality, hypnotic work on their hands, one that exudes passion and careful self-editing. This is the sort of album a veteran band might produce, it’s that good. I hope you’ll check it out.
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