The Dirty Nil - Smite [10-inch] (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

The Dirty Nil

Smite [10-inch] (2014)

Self Released

At this juncture, Smite, a 10" EP with five songs and a running time of around 12 minutes, is the longest contiguous chunk of music the Hamilton (well, proudly Dundas) based Dirty Nil have released. This is a trio that's built a sizeable following in the Ontario independent music scene strictly as as singles band (if that). Between the handful of intermittently available 7" releases there are songs to be found here or there on splits, compilations or streaming from the archives of half a dozen blogs. The amount of digital archeology one must undertake to start assembling this band's equivalent of a Singles Going Steady can be daunting.

So a 10" feels really important. It's a step. You can't assume it's necessarily a step up, but it's indeed a change and that demands attention. While they've been a singles band to this point, the Nil are a great singles band. Their output to date has been incredible but it's likely benefitted from being recorded and assembled in fits and starts. The Nil make records, but they don't yet make albums. This is as close as we've seen.

On a song—to—song basis the Dirty Nil have write anthems as a force of habit. They assemble big, crunchy garage—punk bombs that punctuate speed and distortion (wonderful things) with big hooky pop choruses. Smite avoids perhaps too much of a good thing but taking a few different turns. While "Wrestle Yü To Hüsker Dü" certainly fits the Nil pattern, it's a little more melodic than the past hits, letting tracks like "Nicotine" and "Beat" play with punk velocity more exclusively. Bassist Dave Nardi takes vocal reins for the scorching "New Flesh," his throaty shout far more gruff than Luke Bentham's jovial leads, but in this sequencing it's downright exciting.

If Smite's to be seen as a trial balloon for a longer Dirty Nil release, it's a pretty damn successful one. While by no means should this band to change their MO and start exclusively recording albums (ugh) they've certainly started figuring out how to do it without losing what makes them so fun.