Review by Ricky Frankel
There really hasn’t been a major discussion about which bands are pushing the boundaries of oi! in quite a while, but recently it’s become worth having because England’s The Chisel and Mexico’s MESS are at the forefront of experimenting with the sub-genre. Their 2022 split 7-inch is the latest example of just how amazingly innovative both bands have been.
Though they had a handful of EP’s released before, The Chisel really exploded in popularity with their 2021 debut full-length, Retaliation. Easily one of the best albums of that year, it exposed the scene to what The Chisel were really made of and it showcased the band members’ incredible ability to mix oi!, hardcore, and street punk into one very original sound. As a follow-up to Retaliation and as a contribution to this split, The Chisel’s side includes two tracks called “Keep It Schtum” and “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet.” “Keep It Schtum” is a continuation of their take on hardcore from Retaliation. The lead vocals are harsh and aggressive. And at least to this American, the British accent adds a ton of character to the song. The guitars are a mixture of high-treble and crunchy while the drums are rigid and steady, yet consistently have the crap slammed out of them. “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet” is much more melodic, which is a direction that The Chisel like to take every so often. The singing is gruff, but it still manages to somewhat follow the lightly played main guitar riff. Once the song really gets going, the drums are super swift, focusing heavily on the high-hat and other cymbals. For the choruses, there’s great use of “call and response” between the lead and backing vocals. “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet” is easily one The Chisel’s catchiest songs in their catalogue and the best track on this release.
MESS’s side is equally as impressive, especially if it is your first time listening to their material like it was for me when this 7-inch first came out. Their side also contains one hardcore-leaning song and one that’s more melodic. “Don’t Look Back” is heavy-beat driven and it has a very anthemic melody. The singing here is a bit of on the throat-y side, but it’s a very interesting contrast to the guitar’s choppy, high-pitched, and echo-y lead riff. MESS’s hardcore tune is called “I Don’t Like You.” This track is also is very drum-driven. The vocals are yelled quite forcefully over highly distorted and high-pitched guitar leads, which later on act as a long guitar solo/outro.
It’s very clear that The Chisel are on a hot-streak. Right now it seems like they continue to do no wrong and their two songs on this split proves that. With their recent signing to Pure Noise Records, the skies the limit for them at the moment. MESS is band with a lot of talent. Their two songs on this EP and their 2023 full-length Under Attack show that they are quite a force. In my opinion, this is easily the best EP to come out last year.
Review by Ricky Frankel