Yamantaka //Sonic Titan conjure up a mammoth mix of metal, noise, pop, and folk on their third album.
Stardate 2018 AD: Return once more to the mythical world of Pureland, where our protagonist Aentsik (named after the Iroquois mother goddess) must travel down to the ocean floor in order to defeat the ghost starship A’nó:wara (Mohawk for turtle) and secure the last piece of safe, farmable soil. This enthralling concept is the basis for a wild intergalactic adventure from Toronto noise-masters, Yamantaka//Sonic Titan. In essence, the aptly titled Dirt is the soundtrack to an unreleased anime, influenced by diverse sources like the Legend of Zelda video games, Buddhist teachings, and First Nations traditions. Drawing on their cultural backgrounds for inspiration, the members of Yamantaka //Sonic Titan conjure up a mammoth mix of metal, noise, pop, and folk in the process. A more aggressive and challenging Interstella 5555 for the 2010s, if you will.
Walls of sound frame Dirt’s narrative arc, with cascading synths and ethereal background vocals adding to massive tonal shifts. Atonal guitars and prog-rock bombast on single “Someplace” juxtapose its melodious, pop-infused chorus. “Beast” (with an intro that pays homage to Rush’s “YYZ”) and “Hungry Ghost” each venture over to the softer side of YT//ST’s spectrum, and are bolstered by incredible sax freakouts courtesy of Chelsea McBride. But it just wouldn’t be a YT//ST album without crunching riffs (new guitarist Hiroki Tanaka soars on “Dark Waters”) and jaw-dropping guitar solos (the title track and psychedelic ballad “Tawine”). YT//ST bring the thunder hard on “Yandere”, a Mastodon-meets-Melt-Banana combo featuring fantastic drumming from co-founder Alaska B.
Do you need to understand Dirt’s concept thoroughly to enjoy this album? Not necessarily. Repeated listens will reward you with a deeper understanding of Aentsik’s journey and how it ties into YT//ST’s discography (Dirt is believed to be set somewhere before the final chapter of the overarching plot from their debut record and after the events from 2013’s UZU). Dirt stands as a conceptual masterpiece from a band that’s never been afraid of pushing the boundaries of popular music and challenging their audience to go beyond what they know.