D.Ni.L – Boy. Inside – Album Review
Way back at the end of April this year, I jumped on to the bandwagon of D.Ni.L’s music and slid into a permanent seat via the incredible sounds from the lead-single “Glue” from his new album Boy. Inside. Alright…so it wasn’t really all that long ago…it doesn’t really change the fact that I can still clearly hear the hooks that rip through “Glue” any time I put my mind to it…just so happens I much prefer the old fashioned method of turning it up on my stereo. Point is – D.Ni.L made a serious impact with the Rap/Rock combo on “Glue” that I can still totally recall months after hearing it for the first time. To say that I was stoked about this record coming out would be a radical understatement – I was hooked on the sound of D.Ni.L from the moment I heard it. You can find me ranting & raving over “Glue” right here in this link to the review on the lead-single from Boy. Inside – but suffice it to say, finding out that this was the opening track on his new record brought an immediate smile to my face. If D.Ni.L is willing to put such a strong tune that upfront on the record…he’s GOTTA be bringing it to Boy. Inside to keep up to a standard set that high right off the drop – right? My ears know of no reasons to doubt his abilities. Like I said, I could go on & on about “Glue” and how overwhelming catchy the beginning is and stunning the main hooks are, and about the wicked guitar work, and the mind-blowing transition that occurs in this song’s latter-half that takes the entire song to the next-level & beyond…but you get it by now.
And besides all that, I’m the one that’s slow to catch up & grab a ride on this train – D.Ni.L ain’t no rookie – this is his third record following This In’t A Party and Suicide In Sips, both released last year. At this point, this artist has embraced the freedom of expression that comes naturally with music like he was truly born with insight & abilities that were made to create combinations in sound we’ve never experienced before. It might be considered Rap/Rock at the end of the day in many ways – and that’s valid; but let’s also be clear – the music of D.Ni.L is a great many things…what’s absolutely striking is the bold imagination he brings to his writing and how confidently he charges so willingly into a new idea. Because at the heart of it all…even though there are comparisons that can occasionally be made to D.Ni.L’s music at times, really what you’re getting with this artist is a seriously all-new experience. Try and categorize him if you like…you’ll try & you’ll fail. He’s enigmatic in all the right ways & outstandingly ambitious as an artist – or in other words, give this man some real credit for not putting any limitations on his own style & sound…everything he’s doing on Boy. Inside seems to push right to the edge of what you know or what you might expect…and then jump right off into something you’d never even think of. Guy is just so damn good at what he does that mindblowing doesn’t even cover half of it – D.Ni.L should be at the top of your lists of artists to be massively excited about…I mean c’mon – THREE albums in less than two years already? And he’s THIS good already? You all know I ain’t got any reason to butter his nuts – you’ll hear it as plain as day and likely read about it in multiple places online – Boy. Inside is worth shouting about until your damn lungs are sore. It’s the record the Rap/Rock genre so desperately needs.
Listen to the musicianship on display on a cut like “Summer Fool” and like…how could anyone argue with such an assessment after even just this one experience? I love this cut for so many reasons. Tons of switches in style, sound, pace, tempo…the heaviness of “Summer Fool” ain’t fucking around either – but I think…for me…it honestly might have been the vocals of this second track that pulled me in the hardest. There are going to be a few people on my side of the pond here in Canada that’ll know exactly what I’m saying here and a lot of you that won’t have a clue of what this comparison is like – but “Summer Fool” comes remarkably close to something you’d imagine you could hear from the Brian Burns years of I Mother Earth. This is where the comparison is crucial if you’re not familiar with the Canadian band…there were years before Brian, which commercially did well with a douchebag named Edwin singing for IME – and looking back in comparison to what they achieved years later when Brian stepped in, became an absolute joke nearly…at least in my opinion. Still some decent songs – but the edge that Brian put into the vocals and the intricate atmospheres & heaviness that I Mother Earth would go on to put into their music over those last two records, was a straight-up sonic achievement for how different, artistic, & real it became. I mention all this of course, because that’s who D.Ni.L is reminding me of on “Summer Fool” and a few of these other tracks as well…I Mother Earth wasn’t a Rap/Rock thing – but as far as that Rock half is concerned…this comparison is valid and completely welcome. There’s madness…an untamed wildness…a willingness to create incredibly bold moments through a shifting vocal sound that has multiple dimensions; whether or not you catch every word is almost irrelevant – you catch the FEELING and get the attitude & emotion in the expression from D.Ni.L that he wants you to hear, every time. The more you listen or the closer you listen, the more you’ll get out of it.
Plus he’ll also likely remind a lot of people of Chino as well…and like, who wouldn’t want that comparison? That’s not just aces – that’s ALL the aces. LISTEN to the brilliant grind on “Gutted” – where even the title itself will remind you of a Deftones song or two – the influence is pretty undeniable here…and MAN is that OK with ME! I’d be willing to bet that it’s just as okay with YOU too. And let’s be clear – when it comes to “Gutted,” when I’m saying OK, what I really mean is full-on awesome. Again, I’m sure you’ll agree…cause this is seriously gnarly. I’ll say this…the rap-side of this cut is wickedly strong and it’s likely the element that’ll catch your attention last; the music is so off-the-charts on the scale of badassery that’s it’s seriously no joke…the Chino-esque approach to the verse is amazing. The gnashing teeth of the guitars between verses is EPIC…the chorus punches this entire song into overdrive with amazing vocal hooks, and the bass-lines throughout this cut are completely essential to this low-end infusion of boot-stomping sound. And like – I haven’t even gotten to my FAVORITE PART of this song yet – which is the absolute INSANITY happening in the backing vocals…because that my friends, is KILLER. And talk about commitment…I can practically imagine this guy screaming these parts into the mic in the studio and how straight-jacket-worthy those moments must seem – but it’s that kind of pure sonic dedication to the art that makes all the difference in the world. That’s exactly WHY no matter HOW wild D.Ni.L wants to get with his music – the ride becomes one worth taking. That whole approach reminds me a lot of a little-known band I absolutely loved called Idiot Pilot…I bet D.Ni.L would dig those guys too…equal-levels of insanity. You gotta figure they’d just all give each other the head-nod of respect like ‘Oh you’re crazy too? Cool, I’m crazy as well’ were they all to stand in the same room. Anyhow – “Gutted” – it’s a fierce highlight early on in a record stocked full of amazing moments – no matter how tough the competition for our attention gets (and it will…this lineup of songs is KILLER), this third track continued to stand-out for all the right reasons – completely gripping in every way.
So much CRUNCH in that meaty distortion that he finds on the guitars that rip through the beginning of “Safe To Say” – THAT is a sound that should seriously pump some energy into your day. Love the approach to the mic and the way he chooses to sing this cut, loved the way he’s got the drums set throughout this cut & how they continually lead him down different paths to fantastic results. The melody in the vocals and the venom in his voice deal with the lyrical demons he’s slaying – a personal anthem to remind him how he’s beaten the power of addiction in his past when he’s singing out ‘safe to say I won’t be back here anymore’ with such raw emotion. Ain’t gonna lie though…as cool as any one part of this track may be or as rad as it is as a whole – the guitars really steal the show on “Safe To Say.”
You won’t expect the soft & delicate sound of “Without You” as it starts – nor will you expect the dramatic shift that occurs towards the beginning of this song that blows its tender approach wide-open. Well…you will NOW, but only because I should have said like, spoiler-alert or something…but you get what I mean. I think the rap that follows this song’s remarkable opening is sharp & impressive…and I’ve got no doubt that it’ll be a standout moment part of this song for many people out there…but if you’re missing just how on-point the melodic aspect of this song becomes, you’re just not getting it. Because as gorgeous as the sound of the beginning of “Without You” truly IS – it’s almost nothing in comparison to how beautiful this song becomes by the end of it all. As it ticks by the 2:30 mark, D.Ni.L drifts sweetly into one of the most exquisite moments he’s created on Boy. Inside – you can’t help but notice the departure from the heaviness that has dominated so many of the vibes beforehand…or just how well this move works in his favor. The more he branches out, the more stunning the results seem to be.
“Onions” brings back the intensity, diving into a menacing sound that’s shrouded in mystique and clearly full of mayhem. Right in the middle of the record, D.Ni.L gives us a solid reminder of just how smart he is with the flow of his vocals & how much thought he puts into the rhythm & flow of the words. The guy leaves no stone unturned when it comes to his music – whether it’s the vocals, lyrics, or music – he’s ensured that every detail has character and attributes that genuinely stand-out to our ears. What I can tell you…is that I probably had a harder time with “Onions” than I did with many of the songs on this album…and I’d say the main reason for that has more to do with the extreme awesomeness he finds in the sincere-side of his sound on “Without You” only moments before. So don’t blame me for the way I feel – it’s HIS fault! I got greedy every time “Without You” came on and wanted MORE of that (again, HIS fault, not mine!) – but I really dig the super-charged charisma that he confidently brings to the mic on this cut. The verses are wicked, the chorus is another breathtaking highlight…I mean, you really can’t ask anything more from D.Ni.L than what you’re getting on this record; not only is it ALWAYS different and a refreshing departure from what’s out there right now, but the guy just continuously pours his heart & soul into every single second in effort to create something that’s boldly new to our ears. And dammit – mine sure as shit appreciate the work he’s putting in – it’s outstanding from track-to-track.
LISTEN to that deadly riff that starts out “Eager Eyes” and how it shifts so immaculately into a beautifully alternative sound that’s spread-out, full of echoes, texture, and atmosphere. The way the bass & guitars interact throughout this song is nothing short of remarkable – “Eager Eyes” has plenty of rhythm & groove while still breaking through on occasion to rock the fuck out good’n’proper-like. The balance in the writing and execution is truly award worthy; I loved the organ sounds in the background, I loved the mix on the vocals, I loved the chances D.Ni.L took as an artist on this song – THIS is how you lead the way in innovating the sound of a genre and add to its legacy. A couple of the high-notes you can tell take him right to the threshold of his capabilities – but again, give the man some real credit for exploring his full range of capabilities and really using his talents wisely. Some of these notes might be a stretch – but if your ears are being honest, he’s getting right to where he wants to go. AND – for the most part, I’d argue that D.Ni.L has some of his best moments as a vocalist on “Eager Eyes” as well; I dig the Kings Of Leon-esque crack in his voice and I think some of the technique you can hear in his tone when he’s really going after the melody reveals a man that can really sing in multiple styles with tremendous success. The bass-lines are kickin,’ the vibe switches between haunting in the verses to move bold presence in the chorus…guitars have wicked tone in their bright chords – and as usual, the pace, tempo, & stop/start style of D.Ni.L’s writing plays a massive role in drawing us in continually to listen via how many changes he makes & the noteworthy chops that are ever on display throughout Boy. Inside.
“Boy Inside” really brings out the attitude in both the music and what’s coming through the microphone. I’ve made many comments about how innovative the guy is with his music – and that’s no exception here on the Primus-esque sound of the verses on this tune – but make sure to note just how well the guy works his lyrical magic as well. D.Ni.L is the quintessential example of the difference it makes when you connect to the material & music you create – it’s not just what he’s saying but HOW he’s saying it – that’s what’s absolutely captivating, every time. The attitude, energy, emotion, mood – all of that comes roaring through the mic in ways you simply can’t ignore – and of course, it plays a significant role on his title-track from this album as well. A glimpse into the “Boy Inside” that makes the man he is today – he’s got a killer video just put out to support this cut, the brand-new single from the album. It’s a little looser than some of the rest, a bit more playful perhaps – but certainly no less impressive than the rest of what you’ll hear on this album…face facts, D.Ni.L clearly eats, sleeps, and breathes music.
Put it to you this way…”August” is likely the tune that’ll give you the biggest clues as to whether or not you’ll dig the full-scope of what D.Ni.L is doing here. I’d say it’s probably the most challenging tune to listen to for the average set of ears out there with all the twists & turns it has throughout its massively ambitious ideas & structure – so if you can wrap your head around this, and you dig it – I can guarantee that you’ll have no problem loving everything else you’ll hear as well. I think he’s taking some chances here on “August” – but I honestly think they’ve all paid off & he’s really created a seriously diverse & versatile track that has as much memorable melody as it does artistic inclinations. I mean, I can’t exactly remember the full set of rules, but I think like, if you make Rap/Rock then it’s like, a given that a Radiohead comparison is almost the equivalent of dying many deaths…but face facts, there’s opera-esque moments of Yorke that hang in the air throughout the vibe & approach that D.Ni.L takes to some of these vocal parts. And now admit it you die-hards of the Rap/Rock genre – doesn’t it sound awesome despite the apparent Yorke-ness? Yes. Yes it does. I’m backtracking a bit here, but the fresh-energy of the way he brings it to the beginning of this cut has that like…Feeder-esque explosiveness in the melody – which is also mighty-fine by me. It’s likely the fuzzed-out bass-lines that sound so damn magnificent in the mix of this song’s first half…and as for the second half of “August” – if it’s not Yorke he reminds you of, it’ll likely be the band Ours and the singer Jonny Gnecco – but the bottom-line is, the complexity and commitment runs so freakin’ deep on this cut that no matter which way you turn your head, awesomeness is happening all around you. And whether or not you consider the final minute of “August” to be an afterthought or add-on to the main idea, I do NOT care – it’s one of THE BEST parts of this song & an amazing ending to what’s been one of the more flexible & expansive ideas on the album.
Again, where an artist like D.Ni.L makes the difference, is on a track like “In Jars” – this is where the personality he lets loose into the microphone can turn a good song into a great song. I’ve been doing this long enough to know I’m not crazy dear readers, dear friends – LISTEN to the killer way he attacks the start of this chorus and that edge he adds to the rasp of his voice. That’s some genuinely controlled strained sound right there is what that is – and he does this SO well each time he has the opportunity that it’s impossible to ignore how precise he is with it. “In Jars” becomes kind of pepped-up & punked-up towards the end…kind of like a heavier version of Superchunk, but definitely that same spirited energy. Another very personally revealing track when it comes to the lyrical aspect – many of these songs have been; his unafraid to confront the demons of his past…and I dig that – my only hope is that it comes with the credit he deserves for becoming the man he is today. I can tell ya without question after reviewing some 1600+ albums, EPs, and singles over the past five years or so, that it’s extremely rare to hear an artist with as much commitment as they have imagination & skill – D.Ni.L is the total package. He understands what it takes to make a song stand-out and how to execute on his ambitions…and the result is no matter how wild the idea is, or wherever the sound he’s working with takes him next like it does through the wind, grind, pound, & stomp through “In Jars” – he can make the moment powerful.
There are a few questionable moments in the vocals of the final track “Gone Away” – but make no mistake, the demands on D.Ni.L are enormous over the course of this nearly seven & a half-minute long tune. And for what you might find slightly jarring in a few spots melody-wise, there are still moments of redemption that far outweigh any other quirks that might stand-out to you; like listen to the way that he finds his way into the chorus of this song and the amazing way he works the melody at the beginning of it – that’s just spectacular, straight-up. I also loved how crunchy this song gets around the four-minute mark and where it escalates from there…again, there’s a Radiohead-esque comparison to be made here – which may/may-not damage his street-cred as a Rap/Rock guy, but man does that up the ante of his artist cred in so many ways. The final three minutes or so of “Gone Away” are stunning – the way those backing layers interact with the lead vocals…c’est magnifique brother-man…that’s amazing to listen to. Meaty low-end in the bass-lines rumbles through this song while the brightness that D.Ni.L brings to the mic adds that depth & contrast your ears are craving…that magic & intangible stuff that creates material that’ll hold up for years & years in the future. Because that’s what great ideas do – and this record is stocked full of them; that run-up to the chorus of “Gone Away” is so bloody remarkable that I really don’t have the words to describe it…this final track holds more highlight moments than you can count on one hand. Of course, it’s got the advantage with it being the longest song on the record and the most time to dole’em out to ya…but facts are facts…D.Ni.L creates a finale-worthy tune that reaches epic heights by the time it’s all said & done, capping off an unforgettable experience in sonic excellence that boldly dove headfirst into every idea to explore it for everything it possibly had to offer him.
To think this guy is only two years into officially releasing his music…is staggering. An artist like D.Ni.L just continues to get better, more wild, more creative, more artistic, more innovative over the length of a career…and if Boy. Inside doesn’t convince you that you’d wanna be with him & listening through every step of his adventurous evolution as an artist…then there’s something wrong with YOU, not him.
Find out more about D.Ni.L at the official pages below!
Official Website: https://www.d-ni-l.com/
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