Album Review: The Dirty Nil – Master Volume

On Master Volume, The Dirty Nil marry punk and rock’n’roll like it’s nobody’s business. 

The Ontario-based rock outfit are releasing their newest masterpiece on Friday via Dine Alone. On Master Volume the band proof once again that there is one thing you can’t do: define The Dirty Nil. Is it melodic punk like you’d find with bands like The Menzingers? Definitely. Is it classic rock influences that gives their songs volume like you’d hear in stadiums? One hundred percent. Vocalist Luke Bentham concludes: “We don’t really label ourselves other than just… the best band. That’s our genre!”

“I don’t ever sit down and say, ‘I’m going to write about a song about this today,’” he explains. “I just open my mouth and start playing… and some pretty heinous shit comes out! I definitely enjoy morbid subject matter of all spades, but I like to try to flash a smirk in there with it, because I think it’s important to paint with different brushes. And listening to certain writers I love, like Townes Van Zandt—he has that sort of bleakness, but also with a little bit of humour with it.”

And what better way than to kick off the new album with exactly that sound. Grungy guitars and pleading vocals, with the occasional punk-y screams are entwined in That’s What Heaven Feels Like. Its moody atmosphere is followed by the extremely anthemic lead single Bathed In Light.  Allegedly written after Luke Bentham woke up from dreaming about dying in a car crash, the theme of death is backed by melodic vocals and very 80’s riffs. In the bridge, Bentham greets Jesus and Elvis, and even grandma in an image of himself at the gates of heaven.

One of the most punk tracks on the record is by far Please, Please Me. Running at just over two minutes it’s packed to the rim with energy and mosh-pit potential. Auf Wiedersehen takes the pace right back down a notch (or two). But that by no means gives it any less of a punch, on the contrary Auf Wiedersehen has a tragically beautiful emo feel to it. It’s the perfect addition to your heartbreak playlist. And it leaves you thinking why the band chose the German phrase (Auf Wiedersehen is a formal version of Goodbye) – are we dealing with a German ex here or was this song written while touring Germany? Someone find out and let us know!

Smoking Is Magic is a wonderfully angry song with killer riffs. “Why can’t you just understand, all I owe you is revenge.” Bentham shouts, and haven’t we all been there? The drums at the end bring the song to boiling point. As we dive into Super 8 it’s a whole different picture. A picture of a lost love being contemplated in a cheap motel.

Master Volume comes to a close with what is by far the longest track on the album. With just a little under six minutes Evil Side is worth every second. It’s got a moody 80’s sound to it and Luke Bentham’s vocals give it an eerie, intense feel. Evil Side has all the makings of a modern rock ballad and shows off the songwriting talent that is The Dirty Nil.

Across all of Master Volume the band take their signature sound to a whole new level and deliver a punk-infused rock album that shines bright among its brothers.