Album Review: The Chisel – What A Fucking Nightmare

4/5

One piece of wisdom that Heather Buckley will share – if you ever spend time with the uncrowned monarch of New Jersey hardcore – is that street punks clad themselves in leather and spikes to protect their compassion from the uncaring and inconsiderate. This dichotomy rings true throughout What A Fucking Nightmare, the fantastic new album from The Chisel (released through Pure Noise Records.)

This isn’t to say that the British punks are softies. Quite the opposite. A wounded animal is the most dangerous, after all, and there is plenty of pain and aggression on What A Fucking Nightmare. The band (vocalist Cal Graham, guitarists Luke Younger and Charlie Manning Walker, bassist Momo, and drummer Lee Munday) exemplify the danger and menace that accompanied punk’s birth on such tracks like the opener “No Gimmicks,” “Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet,” and “Nice To Meet Ya.”

Yet, if The Chisel refuses to be denigrated to a caricature of two-finger salutes and thrown pints. The band continues to develop its signature sound on this new album, pairing Oi singalong choruses and classic hardcore attitude with melodic guitarwork and soaring vocals.

They also show depth in the lyrics. They’re blue-collar street poets, recognizing just how fucked up the world has gotten and exploring the cause of it all in their songs. 

The lead single “Cry Your Eyes Out” captures an all-too-common pitfall of those who mistake putting food on the table as the only way to “provide” for their family. “Cuts Like a Knife” speaks out against giving in to hatred. “Tomorrow” and “What Do You Mean?” bemoan the grind that leaves us broke and broken-spirited.

There’s also acknowlegement of greater, more sinister powers at play. The album’s closer, “What I See” (featuring a cameo from Sheer Terror‘s Paul Bearer), warns against being manipulated by “the real enemy [who] wants to divide and rule.”

The Chisel is for the working class. Their songs are about those who struggle to make ends meet, want to live freely and uncompromisingly and greet every gray morning with a defiant sneer. “Life is hard, but I know that I can beat it,” sings Graham on “Fuck ‘Em,” perhaps the most concise message that distills What A Fucking Nightmare is all about.

The Chisel’s new album is beautiful, like a pair of quality leather boots. Like the footwear, it may take some breaking in at first, but once you do, you’ll find music that will support you through times, good and bad. It’s music will get you home after the pub, help you get back on your feet, and protect you against all the world will throw at you. Cheers.   

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