Dent — Eyeballs Review

So, you don’t listen to metal. It’s too hard, too unintelligible, too many white guys screaming at you about Satan and death. But what if the metal band had a lead singer who voice warbled and waned like Bjork and Swedish death metal god had a baby? What if the metal wasn’t afraid of melody and choruses that were actually hooks instead of just repeating parts of a song? Would you like metal then? That is exactly the dilemma you are faced with when listening to Dent and their first album, Eyeballs, which is at any given moment astoundingly pretty and arrestingly heavy and terrifying.

This contradictory aesthetic is best exemplified in the song, “So Red,” which starts out acoustically with lead singer Lane Shi, drifting from high note to even higher note — reminiscent of both Robert Plant and Jeff Buckley in its haunting melodicism — as she tells you that she feels “so red / Just like the last supper when Jesus broke my head” and “scared [she] was dead / ever since she walked around sign taped to [her] head.” Then, almost out of nowhere, the chorus turns into the stampeding, chaotic chords that you expect from metal, her voice going from a warble to a screech. Then the song returns to its melodic ways for the verses. It feels like the sonic incarnation of a hormonal imbalance.

But most of their songs feel this way anyway: Like a woman on her period, who isn’t afraid to show that she is bleeding and force you to see the beauty in it. Like on the seventh track, “Eyeballs, Part 2” that starts off with synth riff that would be at home in a top forty pop track. Then later in the song, go back and forth between the riff and charging metal power chords — and Shi’s Yoko Ono like screech — to create a new spin on the quiet/loud dynamic that nineties band, like Nirvana perfected.

There is, of course, the one song that you could hear on the radio — if metal was ever on the radio — but even that song sounds different from your standard wall of guitar sound, crafted by U2 and copied by everyone else. Starting off with sound of sleigh bells, “Everything Jingles” has killer rolling drums that keep the song contained and classic guitar progression that allows Shi’s unique vibrato to shine through.

Even the most standard metal track, “Whore,” with its power chords and relentless density, is made unique by the fact that Shi, who is a native of China and moved to the US in 2010, sings the lyrics in Chinese. It is nice to see a woman of color involved in the usually white, male dominated genre; especially with the current Phil Anselmo is an asshole who supports white power situation.

The truth of the matter is even if you don’t listen metal, you should be listening to Dent.

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