Multi-instrumentalist Sean Smith found himself in a do or die moment. Tired of waiting to find other bandmates, and with the birth of his first child approaching, he decided to set out on his own as Seanaldinho. Based out of Charlotte, North Carolina, Seanaldinho evokes crust punk legends Disfear and the stoner metal sounds of Doomriders.
Punchy, raw, and relentless, the debut effort by Smith culminated in The New Dark Ages EP. Recorded over the summer of 2022 with Al Jacob at Warrior Sound (He Is Legend, Beloved, Porter Robinson), the five track EP expresses frustrations with modern society. Digital technology is separating us from our humanity. There is an absence of truth. Intellectual progress and artistic standards are in decline.
Seanaldinho aims to be inspiring, energizing. The music encourages listeners to always persevere through challenges. “When people zig, I like to zag,” says Smith. “I don’t like to go with the flow. I push back on stuff that doesn’t make sense. I’m not afraid to stand up for what’s right, even if it means standing alone. I want to create something that inspires others to stand by their principles.”
When was the last time you were on an elevator and pulled out your smartphone for no reason, just to scroll? When was the last time you read a news headline and immediately got mad? And when was the last time you sent a laughing emoji to someone, but were stone-faced serious in real life?
Seanaldinho’s debut EP “The New Dark Ages” expresses frustration with this modern society. Digital devices have pulled us out of the present moment. They’ve reduced meaningful human contact. They’ve made us soft. Corporations profit from the proliferation and sharing of angering content. Misinformation spreads like wildfire, thanks to careless politicians and rogue state actors.
Our minds are being manipulated, poisoned, and overstimulated. People are turning against each other. The result is depression, anxiety, and stress. The only way out is to embrace our humanity. We must focus on the things that make us whole, like love, family, and our passions. Live with a fighting spirit.
The five tracks of “The New Dark Ages” EP each tell a piece of the greater story.
Read on as Seanaldinho explains the meaning and the inspiration behind each song.
01. The Black Dog
This song was inspired by a dream that I had days before my uncle Joe passed away. In the dream, there was a giant black dog guarding a massive hole in the Earth. This hole was where the dead souls collected as they transitioned to the afterlife. I got the feeling that this dog was coming for Joe. I tried to go save him, but the dog protected the space and kept me away. It had a serious expression, as if telling me to let it go – it was a done deal. As it turns out, this is a common foreboding dream in Ireland and the UK going back centuries. It was the most lucid dream I’ve ever had. It reminded me that death is always present in life and that all our time will come.
In the aftermath of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, I watched Ivan the Terrible. The movie is about Ivan’s quest to unite the Russian states. The parallel today is that Vladimir Putin also wants to unite the former Soviet states. It comes as no surprise then that the film was commissioned by Putin’s ideological idol, Joseph Stalin, in 1944. The line “showered in gold” is a reference to the pouring of gold coins on Ivan IV’s head when he becomes Tsar.
I also thought about Vlad the Impaler. He fended off large armies with diabolical, scorched-earth campaigns. His most notable and horrific act was to impale thousands of innocent people on stakes. This shocked the invading Ottomans into retreating. This brutal man did whatever it took to defend his homeland when the odds were against him. I thought that must be how Volodymyr Zelensky feels fighting against the outsized Russian army. I tried to imagine Zelensky’s inner turmoil and bring it to life with this song. The chorus repeats, “No one takes my land from me.”
03. Burned at the Stake
This song was inspired by Ingmar Bergman’s film, The Seventh Seal, which takes place during the Black Death. In one scene, a girl, believed to be a witch for her crazy beliefs, is being carried to a stake in the woods. She remains convicted in her beliefs as she encounters the main character, Antonious Block. A knight fresh off the Crusades, Block examines her eyes for some presence of God and sees none. He feels sorry for her. She is then burned at the stake.
It made me think about the countless number of people who are so strong in their beliefs today. Many of these people are the product of groupthink. Others consume bad information and have adopted inaccurate assumptions. Others still are too absent to care. Societal factors have driven us to these empty extremes. We have lost all nuance in discussion, let alone an accepted source of truth. Hardened beliefs are a prime factor behind the current intellectual decline.
On one hand, I admire those who stick to their beliefs so strongly that they would die for them. As Thomas Jefferson once said, “In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock.” On the other hand, we are being conditioned to ignore alternate points of view. The “us versus them” tribalism has led to immediate disdain for anyone living in a different bubble. It is natural to interact with people who have differences of opinion. It is even healthy to question your own beliefs sometimes. If you’re not careful, closed-mindedness could lead you to burning at the stake.
04. The New Dark Ages
In the titular song on the EP, the lyrics spell out the overarching thesis. We are in a new dark age, where society is in decline. Issues abound, such as intellectual skepticism; corporate and political greed; a breakdown of institutions and traditions; and irrational, selfish thought which disregards basic human factors.
The Greeks and Romans used to believe that the chaos of pre-civilized times is what led to the birth of the Gods. Renaissance thinkers were able to collect themselves from the ashes of the Middle Ages and reimagine the greatness of humanity. I too believe that humanity will once again prevail out of these dark times. I hope it happens in my lifetime.
05. Brother’s Keeper
I have a younger brother, who is my best friend. Our bond is strong, as is the bond between my whole family. I grew up understanding that family always comes first. This song is a reminder about the importance of family. With my first born son in mind, the strength of a family has important developmental implications for children. Your family’s support builds your confidence and fortitude. How you grow up at home determines how you will approach the world.
With each of these five songs, I wanted to write lyrics that would express a way of life that would inspire my son. While these songs outline frustrations with society, the underlying message is one of optimism. We must always fight to protect what is important to us. As long as we persevere, and stay true to ourselves, nothing is too difficult. I hope that message inspires others to be strong every day. At the very least, I hope this EP fires people up.