Written by Ellis Heasley
Death Goals – The Horrible And The Miserable
Chaotic hardcore/Skramz from Hertfordshire, UK
Released June 4th, 2021
There’s really no beating around the bush here: personally, The Horrible And The Miserable by Death Goals has gone right up there with the likes of For Your Health and Pupil Slicer as one of the best hardcore releases of the year so far. The debut full-length from the duo of Harry Bailey and George Milner is a captivatingly chaotic and cathartic record that should have listeners going back to it again and again. Musically, it’s reminiscent of some of the best skramz/screamo releases of recent years (Frail Body and Dreamwell being two of the most obvious examples), coupled with a heavy dose of the mathier metallic hardcore leanings of the likes of The Chariot and early Every Time I Die. What’s not to like?
For a duo, Death Goals make a hell of a lot of noise. They embellish their core of guitar and drums by having both members handle vocals on the record. For the most part, guitarist Bailey, who founded the band, seems to opt for a more tortured and screamy style, while drummer Milner has something of a lower hardcore bark. The two styles juxtapose nicely, and provide a perfect vehicle for the album’s often devastating lyrics. Perhaps unsurprisingly given the record’s title, things get pretty bleak in this regard, with lines like (“Life has no meaning”) on second track “Misery”, and (“The only certainty in life is that we will die”) on the title track.
The duo also regularly explore their experiences as members of the LGBTQ+ community on this record. This is most notable on tracks like “Helen Keller Is Teaching Me How To Talk To Boys” and “Gender Traitor.” On the former, Milner declares (“This is an anthem for the end of the world/I’ll be dancing with the pretty boys when I’m burning in hell”). On the latter, Bailey screams (“I’ve been swapping saliva with gender traitors all my life/So if that means that I should die/Then fucking kill me”). All of this is delivered with a real passion and fury which makes The Horrible And The Miserable a consistently gripping and hard-hitting listen.
Everything on this album is excellent, but the three track run of “Helen Keller…”, “Car Crash Romance” and “Shrike” may well be the strongest. All three of these feature absolutely crushing breakdowns, with the middle piece standing out in particular as one of the record’s most emotional offerings. The album’s title track also makes for a firm highlight, not least for Bailey’s pre-breakdown scream of (“This is the sound of pure fucking misery”) followed by a classic metalcore “blegh”. Definitely check out the band’s live performance of this one if you haven’t already.
Even the reference points mentioned at the start of this review don’t quite capture everything Death Goals do on The Horrible And The Miserable. For example, sixth track “Exit Wounds” leans towards a dour and more angular noise rock or post-punk sound in its verses, while “A Different Type Of Headache” which follows it combines gloomy guitars with a more driving and primal straight-up punk from Milner’s drumming. Later, album closer “Nothing Left To Give” makes for a dynamic and powerful final highlight, with the duo even adding emotional clean vocals to evoke classic 00s post-hardcore.
Honestly, the quality of the metallic hardcore on offer alone here is enough to ensure that listeners should never get bored with The Horrible And The Miserable, but the fact that Death Goals throw even more into the mix surely makes this an impossibility. With 11 tracks taking up just 23 and a half minutes of your time, this record is a mesmerising listen from start to finish, and should definitely be in conversations as one of the best albums of 2021 come the end of the year.