Some things never go out of style. Emerging from the London punk scene with a high energy blend of Oi! hooks and hardcore stomp, The Chisel have a sound that’s as timeless as it is exhilarating. Now on their sophomore album, What A Fucking Nightmare, the band somehow cranks the dial further into the red with a whopping 16 tracks that are even more aggressive and even more anthemic.
The Chisel formed in 2020 out of the same pool of talented friends and collaborators that bore bands like Violent Reaction, Arms Race, and Chubby & The Gang. After a series of singles and EPs, the band–whose current line up is vocalist Cal Graham, guitarists Luke Younger and Charlie Manning Walker, bassist Momo, and drummer Lee Munday released their debut full-length, Retaliation, in 2021 and secured their reputation as one of the most exciting new punk bands coming out of the UK. With more attention often comes more pressure, but The Chisel approached their second album with something very key in mind: “If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it,” says Younger, explaining, “after we recorded the first record we just didn’t stop writing. So by the time it came out we already had even more new songs.” That prolific streak didn’t stop and the result is What A Fucking Nightmare–a behemoth of a punk record that doubles down on everything that makes The Chisel such a compelling band.
What A Fucking Nightmare grabs the listener by the head and doesn’t let go. Recorded by James Atkinson and produced by Jonah Falco (Fucked Up, High Vis, Chubby & The Gang), the album hones The Chisel into the keenest and most effective version of themselves where the hooks are bigger and the bite is sharper. The heart of their sound draws on elements of old school hardcore, UK82, and other corners of aggressive punk, but it’s The Chisel’s ability to pack a melodic punch that makes them stand out from the pack. Graham’s biting-yet-tuneful delivery is key to the band’s ability to swing from eye-bulging street punk ragers to triumphant singalongs that even the most faint-of-heart rock and roll fan couldn’t help but enjoy. What A Fucking Nightmare is the kind of album that reminds listeners of all the things that are so impactful and enduring about punk music: there’s a vitality to these songs, tangible sweat, blood, and bootprints that leave a mark long after they’re done. There’s absolutely no doubt that this is The Chisel’s world–and we’re just living in it.
Stuart Gili Ross