Record Review: The Dirty Nil - Master Volume

Honestly, if you're wired like me, there's not much else that comes close to the feeling that a heavily distorted guitar will trigger. So of course, when The Dirty Nil from Dundas, Ontario, released their first studio album "Higher Power" two years ago, I stood in front of my stereo with a bewildered look on my face while the first sounds of "No Weaknesses" blew me right across my living room.

The Dirty Nil by Mike Renaud (Slaight Music)
Last year, I had the opportunity of seeing them play at the Southside Festival in Southern Germany and could talk to them for a newspaper piece (click here to read, but it's in German). My colleagues even made them pronounce some typical words in the dialect of your region (here's the video, it was so much fun!). Now I'm totally stoked to be listening to the new full-length album "Master Volume." What a ride it is! Jam-packed with thundering guitars just as you love it. "That's What Heaven Feels Like" is an ideal opener with its slow paced stomping, and the title could indeed refer to you, the listener, in this candy store of heavy riffing and banging drums. 

When I was still a metalhead, I learned that heaviness often comes with midtempo - and while speed metal was fascinating in its technical refinement, the real wrecking balls were more Andante than Allegro (see Slayer's "South of Heaven"). The Dirty Nil dwell on midtempo for the first three songs, with "Bathed In Light" offering windmill-compatible guitar licks and "Pain Of Infinity" showing off a clever stringing together of melodies. With the raw and energetic "Please, Please Me" (title inspired by The Beatles) the record gathers speed, only to slam on the brakes with "Auf Wiedersehen" (title inspired by Cheap Trick). Singer and guitar player Luke Bentham says: "I think the experience of playing with bands like Against Me - bands that can put on a proper fucking rock show- and seeing what works in a big space definitely crept into the way we think about songs, and how to sound powerful. A lot of the times, when you play blitzkrieg-fast, it has a way of sounding awesome in a club. But when you’re playing in a giant space with some sound guy who’s never seen you before mixing you, it can be a roll of the dice." And he adds: "It takes a lot of confidence to play slower and have a discernible pulse." 

But the three-piece - Singer and guitarist Luke Bentham, bassist Ross Miller and drummer Kyle Fisher - have all reasons to be confident. They've played 350 shows over the past three years all over the world and made a huge leap in terms of popularity. With their second full-length studio album ("Minimum R&B" from 2017 was a compilation of early singles and EP tracks), they will continue to be recognized as a crucial band in the rock genre. 

If there is such a thing as a hit single on a rock record, "Smoking Is Magic" comes closest, leaning heavily into its "Maybe When You're Older" Chorus/Mantra. But of course, songs like "I Don't Want The Phone Call" are not fillers either. Producer John Goodmanson (Nada Surf: "Lucky") did a hell of a job with this larger than life guitar sound and the pounding drums and the pulsating bass added to that. I'd be surprised if "Master Volume" wouldn't show up on "Best Of" lists this year. 

"Master Volume" was released on September 14th via Dine Alone Records. More Info on the band: https://thedirtynil.bandcamp.com
Here's the video clip for "Bathed In Light":