Whirlwind riffage, raging hooks and dancing vocals – The Dirty Nil crank it up with brand new album, Master Volume.
Hailing, proudly, from Ontario, Canada, The Dirty Nil are a three-piece alternative rock band with big intentions. Following the release of their debut album Higher Power in 2016 and EP (made up largely of some of the band’s older material) Minimum R&B, the boys are back as the self-assigned ‘saviours of rock ‘n’ roll’. As a fan of the band, I have no problem with that title whatsoever but now – with their latest LP, Master Volume – we get the chance to truly see if The Dirty Nil are all talk, or if this release will be able to springboard Luke Bentham, Ross Miller and Kyle Fisher to stardom.
Before I dive on in, I must take some time to commend the quality of the singles that the band released for this record. Bathed in Light was the first single taken from Master Volume and set the tone perfectly. It is punchy and harbours qualities that wouldn’t be out of place in a classic rock banger. All in all, this song is huge. Similarly, Pain of Infinity just hits the proverbial nail on the head. If I wanted to show someone a song to introduce them to The Dirty Nil for the first time it would be this one. With swagger and confidence, but fierce delivery this track is nothing short of great. With dainty, translatable lyrics such as “wearing 7’s on your sleeves” and quite possibly one of the catchiest chorus hooks ever written, this song sticks with you long after listening to it. Having caught both of these tracks live at 2000trees this year, I was satisfied with the quality of the latest Nil releases. However, when I thought it would just be a long old wait until the album’s due date, the band dropped I Don’t Want That Phone Call. Questionably the biggest tune of the three, this song is incredible. The lyrics, delivery and infectious nature of this track are immense, and I think it could be one of the band’s best releases to date. The fact that it is found so late down the track listing is a testament to just how good this album is.
That’s What Heaven Feels Like opens the album. Another song that sounds undeniably familiar, I am sure that I had the pleasure of catching this one live earlier in the year too. Opening with feedback before the band crunches to life, the vocals of Luke Bentham ignite the song as it falls through the opening verses. The lyrics bounce through a series of images and adjectives as the band try to explain what heaven, for them, feels like. The biggest take away from this song is definitely the chorus. Its nonchalant but incessant pace is gripping, and the hook will have you singing along for hours after listening. The breakdown sees Bentham explode into a whirlwind of riffage and we get one more chorus. This time it is delivered with a little more spite before we are left to marvel about what might be next.
Please, Please Me is one of the most energetic tracks on the album. I get waves of late 90s Green Day when I listen to this one, mainly due to the tone of the instruments and pacing of the track but also a little with the delivery of the vocals too – a compliment, I assure you. The bassline given by Ross Miller and the unrelenting drums from Kyle Fisher really maintain the intensity of this one. This song is a tornado and will bang if played live. I enjoy that it comes just after the two singles, Bathed in Light and Pain of Infinity, as it informs the listener that the band have so much more to give us. Completely juxtaposing its predecessor, Auf Wiedersehen is a slower number that comes next. Well, I say slower… Measured – measured is a better description. It opens with a more leisurely riff which seems to build a landscape of sorts. We are greeted warmly by Bentham’s signature stretching vocals. As a plodding, head-nodder this song does a great job in engaging the listener. Despite this description, it is in no way boring.
Before listening to Always High, I kind of figured how it might have sounded in my head. True to colours, the hook of the song – which features the line “You’ll survive because you’re always high, you’re always high” – is the highlight and really makes you want to shout along. The opening of this one is electric. The drums are wonderful and really help to differentiate this song from the others seen on the album. This track has the potential to become a Nil classic. From first note to last, the song darts and changes direction but keeps the bellowing vocals of Bentham in the chorus at its core. Smoking is Magic opens with a riff that is also unlike anything else we see on this album. It is a fun little number that really gets you in the mood for a boogie. The drums, again, jump on in and slap the shit out of your headphones. I think this may be Bentham’s best vocal performance on the album. 2 minutes 53 seconds of sheer heat. There is literally nothing I can critique about this song, I just thoroughly recommend you give it a listen.
Super 8 is tasked, unenviably, of preceding I Don’t Want That Phone Call. The lyrics of this song are wonderful. They have an honesty to them, the reflections of a band bouncing from motel to motel. The structure of this song is a little more linear than the others on the album, but this is not a bad thing. By this point, it mixes it up. The verse to chorus shift-up keeps the song thriving as you listen to it and really makes you ready to sing along to the chorus. I am sure this one will become a staple in the live shows. Evil Side closes the record and is a noticeably slower offering. It is methodical and feels to be a heartfelt track. The guitar weeps in and out of focus, as Bentham lays his vocals atop. This song feels like it could soundtrack the crescendo of a coming of age film. From around the 3 minute 30-second mark, we are given an instrumental soar. What follows is The Dirty Nil flexing their musical muscles, bringing home their collection of rock bangers with style. Bravo boys.
I think that this album is a grower. After the first few listens you will be impressed by what The Dirty Nil are offering with this release, but the more time you give to it, the more you will get back. I still feel as though the real highlights lie in the singles, and snippets of tracks we have already heard. I am sure, however, that I will revise my rating for this album as soon as it has bedded itself a little more firmly in my playlist. Master Volume is a great showing and there are some undeniably banging bops on offer with this album and I think that with this release it may finally be time for The Dirty Nil to get the recognition they deserve. Maybe the band aren’t quite the ‘saviours of rock ‘n’ roll’ just yet, but they could certainly be on their way. Check out this album and go and see this band on their upcoming UK tour, you won’t regret it.
4.25/5 Bytes. Callum Huthwaite.
Check out The Dirty Nil as they tour the UK and Europe this Autumn: