by Niccolo Dante Porcello (@chromechompsky)
“Sorrowful Seed,” the new video and single from Boston-based Dent, is a harrowing and beautiful track brought to life visually by the immense talent of animator and illustrator Qieer Wang. Across 9-plus minutes, Dent snarl and swirl around vocalist Lane Shi’s powerful voice, trading back and forth moments of utter fury with prog-like progressions that are equal parts chaotic and serene. “Sorrowful Seed,” Dent’s first release since 2015’s full length Eyeballs, finds Shi telling the story of getting an abortion at the age of 18. Shi eschews grief for the desire to turn the experience into one of agency and power, and comfort, while acknowledging a reality in which one has to make seemingly impossible decisions in their youth. Writing about the backstory of the song, Shi says “Sorrowful Seed” is meant to be understood as “want to express her grief away, to turn ashes to wish, to devote a piece of voice for the good intentions.” Its a powerful statement of self, and the video premiered here is an impressive companion to Shi’s statement.
With the full force of Dent behind Shi, and Wang’s haunting and illustrative animations, “Sorrowful Seed” is truly profound. From the opening salvo, Dent are in peak form. Harley Cullen’s guitar slices across heavyweight drumming from Jack Whelan, crescendoing and receding from each moment of stasis — waves of noise disappear and reappear; sludgy moments come and go, seamlessly turning into near-classically articulated movements, giving “Sorrowful Seed” the feeling of an epic in the truest sense. It is precisely the instrumentation that the song needs, and I’d be hard pressed to believe it could be done any better. Here, Dent are the sinew holding Shi’s tale and Wang’s illustrations together — it could not exist in such a form without their strength.
Wang’s animations are of a similar volition: they enunciate Shi’s experience and tribulations. Morphing and melting images shift and coalesce, fade into doodle-like nothingness, and re-emerge as astoundingly rendered visages. There is a cohesive thread of imagery of the cycle of life: things are and then they are not, but nowhere are these systems a constant. The imagery Wang created here is the essence of any experience that requires heading into the unknown — it can be as beautiful as it can be painful, it can be as freeing as it can be condemning.
With the help of Wang, Dent have issued a remarkable missive on a reality for a number of people in this world. Shi speaks of being picketed outside of the Planned Parenthood, and gossip among peers and teachers; on “Sorrowful Seed”, it becomes apparent the immense difficulty of this experience was multifaceted, raw, and changing. Here, it is cathartic. This is powerful stuff.