Published Sep 07, 2018For those who still pray at the altar of rock music, the Dirty Nil might feel like a second coming. While the disciples of Dewey Finn can seem like a thinning herd these days, this trio from Dundas, ON has thrived on their unabashed devotion to rock'n'roll in its purest, loudest and most electrifying form. And Master Volume is a defining sermon, distilling decades of guitar-charged power and wisdom into 10 succinct commandments.
If the sound of amp feedback makes your hair stand on end and an absolutely monumental chorus has you cranking up your stereo's volume knob, this band's second studio album will have you sold in a matter of seconds. "That's What Heaven Feels Like" delivers on all of the Dirty Nil's promises since they debuted with "Fuckin' Up Young" back in 2011, and it's only just the start of a legendary three-track opening assault along with "Bathed in Light" and "Pain of Infinity."
They somehow manage to top that energy with "Please, Please Me," a shotgun blast of punk rock that fits into its surroundings better than the similarly raucous, feral ragers of Higher Power and their Smite EP. "Auf Wiedersehen" and "Evil Side," meanwhile, are slow burners that find the band pacing themselves while still doing everything they do so well.
Kudos to veteran producer John Goodmanson for making perhaps one of the best-sounding rock records in recent memory. Even just the final 13 seconds of track four are a master class in committing to tape the pulverizing fury of a live band on the best night of their lives. Master Volume wields high-octane riffs that are dialled in perfectly, and dynamo Luke Bentham steals the show even more than usual with his dazzling vocal chops.
Here, Bentham and his band lean into their cheeky, smirking personas, refusing to take themselves too seriously with lines like, "I mean this in a nice way: Fuck you!" and an ode to crashing at cheap chain motels ("Super 8"). But they do get real, in their own way. "I Don't Want the Phone Call" extends a helping hand to someone with substance-abuse problems, but not without a greeting of playful tough love: "Listen up, motherfucker / I'm your friend."
Some of rock music's purveyors have been going through an identity crisis in recent years. But what people like us don't need is yet another thinkpiece asking, "Is rock dead???" (or worse, another meme comparing Freddie Mercury to like, Nicki Minaj or something). We just need to sit back and enjoy it when a band like this comes around and puts out a record as big and fun as Master Volume. So praise be to The Dirty Nil. (Dine Alone)