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Street Date: Oct 26, 2018 Produced by veteran alt-rock architect John Goodmanson, Master Volume is an album that crunches and grooves where the band once smashed and trashed, unleashing the Dirty Nil's undiminished raw power in more controlled waves to better target the back rows. "It's less of a sprint and more of a strut," Luke Bentham says, and he credits a great deal of the tempo shift to the arrival of Ross Miller, who replaced original bassist Dave Nardi in early 2017. While Ross was already Luke and Kyle Fisher's roommate, his pedigree includes playing with everyone from Wanda Jackson to Single Mothers. The joy and bravado with which the Nil deliver Master Volume's pummeling power-pop missives bely the often grim narratives embedded within. The first two songs alone – "That's What Heaven Feels Like" and "Bathed in Light" – find Luke dying in two different car crashes, flying through smashed windshields and talking to his deceased grandma in heaven; "Always High" sees him eulogizing an ill-fated driver lying on the roadside with their head split open. "I Don't Want That Phone Call" is an even more brutally frank treatise on impending death, with Luke pleading to an addict friend to get help and spare him the inevitable call from the morgue. And sure, the album has two songs that could practically qualify as ballads, but the first one ("Auf Wiedersehn") unleashes its ache in a throat-shredding chorus of "Fuck You," and the second ("Evil Side") builds to an atomic, noise-blasted climax that, when the band perform it in concert, is liable to trigger an earthquake that swallows up the circle pit. Loaded with steady-grooving songs about living fast and life-affirming anthems about dying young, Master Volume ultimately amplifies The Dirty Nil's most essential quality: their refusal to be defined. They're too melodic and muscular to be purely punk, but too raucous and unhinged to pass as straight pop; too cheeky to be overtly political, but still acutely in tune with the unsettled, anxious energy of the times in which we live. Whether you find catharsis in a crowd-surf or a street protest, Master Volume captures the ecstatic rush of getting swept up in a communal moment...and the frantic fear that it can all come crashing down at any second.

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