Master Volume is true to its name. The Dirty Nil are back and they are just as raw and kickass as they have always been! I admit I was a tad worried that the quality would drop after two stellar rock albums in a row, but they just keep getting better and better. This is their best collection of songs yet and proves that they are Canada’s best-kept secret. To me, they are up there with Japandroids and one of the only modern bands who would do The Replacements proud. It’s a shame that they aren’t more widely known but if this album (and their must-see live show) is any indication they are well on their way.
In some ways, Master Volume isn’t really all that different from Higher Power and Minimum R & B. Almost every song is dialled up to 11, delivered with a ragged bravado and filled the brim with masterful hooks. Most other bands these days are too busy aping their heroes or trying to sound polished that they forget that rock is and always has been about attitude. Not so with The Dirty Nil. They know their strengths and they continue to sharpen their tools. This time around they sound so confident and at times menacing that there is a fear they may actually intend to poke someone’s eyes out. But hey, they SHOULD feel confident! This is the same band that opened for and held their ground against The Who.
Admittingly, there is a slight lack of diversity in this track listing, but it hardly matters because the album barely reaches 30 minutes. As such it never feels bloated or extraneous in its attack. It’s uber precise and shows a band in full control of their songwriting abilities. Although they never stray too far from their rock and roll roots, they DO take risks and continue to grow. “Bathed in Light” has a more retro, Cheap Trick-esque approach, “Please, Please Me” is probably the most punk they’ve ever gotten, and “Evil Side” is moody, a ballad and six minutes long.
All in all, though, they are still the loveable snot-nosed scamps that fans have grown to love. Front-man Luke Bentham is particularly in fine form, which is not to take away from bassist Ross Miller and drummer Kyle Fisher, who are tighter than ever. Every album he finds a way to expertly use the word “Fuck,” and his delivery of the line “I mean this in a nice way, fuck you” in “Auf Wiedersehen” is so scathing that it makes you wonder how he’d sound if he was really being mean. His voice has also never been more dynamic. I mean, he’s still very much a world-class shouter as is his style, but there is less strain in his higher notes which better highlights how well written his melodies often are.
If you like real, in your face, rock music that seemingly is almost never produced these days than you need to listen to The Dirty Nil! Seriously, it’s not a recommendation, it’s an order! If you’re a first-time listener, this is a great place to start because it highlights what these guys do best and hints what they might be capable of in the future. If you’re like me and love these guys already I promise you will NOT be disappointed. Master Volume is a pure adrenaline rush and as it suggests should be played VERY FUCKING LOUD! This is their best album so far and might be one of the best I’ve heard all year.
Written by Shawn Thicke
*edited by Mike Milito