The Dirty Nil - Master Volume (Cover Artwork)

The Dirty Nil

Master Volume (2018)

Dine Alone

The Dirty Nil roar back with the exuberantly nihilistic rampage of Master Volume. This new collection perfects their effusive fusion of classic rock riffage and maniacal punk energy and streamlines any bumps that were present in debut full length Higher Power. The Dundas, Ontario trio (Luke Bentham, Ross Miller, and Kyle Fisher) tapped John Goodmanson (Sleater-Kinney, Bikini Kill, but also Saliva, Hanson) to harness the lightning for their sophomore album, and he does a commendable job making the band sound ready to conquer arenas without sacrificing any of their aggressive caterwauling. The band’s stint as openers for Against Me! appears to have afforded them the opportunity to learn from a band that knows how to command both a club and festival stage with a huge rock sound, and Goodmanson has translated the experience to a massive sounding album.

The Nil conjure delightful intrigue by throwing classic rock touchstones throughout their reckless punk swagger. “That’s What Heaven Feels Like” cops part of the riff from James Gang’s “Funk #49,” and “Bathed in Light” shouts out the “second side of Hunky Dory.” The band pull a ruse from the Replacements and swipe the track names for the Beatles’ “Please, Please Me” and Cheap Trick’s “Auf Wiedersehen,” although the Nil’s delirious tracks bear little resemblance to those canonical terrestrial radio stalwarts. The band also pull from some more contemporary groups for inspiration as “Please, Please Me” actually references Queens of the Stone Age’s “Millionaire” in its pounding rhythm and demonic plea to “gimme some more.” “Pain of Infinity” boasts a slippery guitar slide for its main riff, while “Smoking is Magic” continues the Joe Walsh worship with an amphetamine-fueled lick. The encore to the album’s synthesis of rock classicism and punk anarchism is a faithful sprint through Metallica’s Kill ‘Em All shredder “Hit the Lights.”

Lyrically, the band continues to traffic in cheeky wickedness and cheerful fatalism. In opener “Heaven,” Luke Bentham personifies himself as an exhilarated canine smashed by oncoming traffic, and subsequent track “Bathed in Light” also has a narrator who falls “asleep at the wheel and died” but “went out with a smile” with a celestial exit that “generated thunder,” perfectly matched by the band’s detonation on the chorus. “Pain of Infinity” and “Auf Wiedersehen” are defiant resignations to difficult lovers, as if the band’s headrush lifestyle can’t accommodate any taps on the brakes. Despite the celebration of hedonism and existential pursuits, the Nil realize that there may be a cost to pushing these tendencies to the extreme. On “I Don’t Want That Phone Call,” Bentham begs a friend who “almost died / Five or six times” by drugs and DUI to slow down and considers that “no one should ever have to call their fate / Death by drugs and alcohol at 28.” Finally, “Super 8” is a requisite humorous travelogue of the filth and fury of living a nomadic life in and out of roadside roach motels.

Master Volume is The Dirty Nil finding the perfect amalgam of their influences and infusing it with their characteristic vigorous rock and roll passion. Going down in flames never sounded so intoxicating.