It’s been a few years since we’ve heard from Canadian art rock collective Yamantaka // Sonic Titan, but that doesn’t mean that they haven’t been busy. After touring ended for their 2013 Polaris Music Prize-shortlisted album Uzu, the band holed up for a different kind of project, writing the score for the video game Severed in collaboration with another Canadian band, Pantayo. Only after that was it time to work on the next album. Dirt was finally released last Friday, and the band stopped in DC at Union Stage a few nights before to present it to a small crowd of people who braved the threat of bad weather to see the band play.
A Yamantaka // Sonic Titan show is always part concert, and part theatrical experience, as the band dresses up and wears Kabuki-inspired makeup for their performance. The new album retains the trademark prog rock-influenced “Noh Wave” sound (a play on words with new wave music and traditional Japansese Noh theatre) of their previous records, while going further into a heavy metal direction, particularly on songs like “Dark Waters” and the title track. With it, they remain one of the most distinctive bands performing today.
The show was opened by two local DC bands, the political post-punk of Mock Identity and the driving dance rock of Mystery Friends. The three bands strongly contrasted (which is, granted, hard to avoid when Yamantaka // Sonic Titan is on the bill!), but made for a satisfying mid-week show.