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Despot Review

"Despot" by Guild Theory is a powerful and heartfelt single about loneliness explored through the musical genres of indie and prog rock.

Although the instrumental is brilliant, the first thing that stands out is the vocals. There is a real sense of cohesion between the band that is on full display in the interactions between their vocal performances. They build up each other's voices, elevating them to the next level by offering a contrasting harmony. This connection creates a wave of sound, underscoring the emotions of the song. Interestingly, although loneliness is a key theme of the track, a lot of it is sung in unity with others. To me, this shows how people can feel isolated even in a crowd if they are misunderstood or unheard. It could also be that the vocal performance emphasises isolation by showing the contrast of unity within the voices. The vocals themselves have gravel and grit to them, which feels very reminiscent of the song's prog-rock roots. The voice also conveys a sensitivity and vulnerability which is subtly explored throughout, elevating the voices beyond the traditional style of one genre.

Thematically the track's chorus uses the lyrics "No one wants me, no one needs me" repeated several times throughout. This section feels like the protagonist's inner voice telling them how alone they are. This couples with the vulnerable vocals and heavy instrumental to build a full and tonally consistent sound.

The instrumental is also well put together. By starting subdued with a sole piano part, the track slowly builds up in tension and power, further added to by the introduction of the bass and drums. This tension and energy really hit a peak when the distorted electric guitar comes in. This dirty, crunching, grinding sound adds a tonne of texture, contrasting the more traditional guitar we hear before and afterward in the track. This sonic ebb and flow allows for a subtle introduction of several of the motifs that are presented and evolved throughout. The changing pace also allows the themes to really shine by giving them moments of attention within the mix.

Bringing great themes and excellent technical execution to the table, Despot stands tall above its peers in the indie and prog-rock scene.

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