Going Off – Kill List EP


Manchester hardcore crew, Going Off, somehow bypassed Scream Blast Repeat in 2023 with their debut album, What Makes You Tick? So, what better way to attract our attention than an eight-track EP of eleven minutes in the quietest period of the music calendar? Of course, nothing about this band is quiet. Singer, Jake Huxley, looks like the tattooed young man every middle-class parent dreads as a future son-in-law, yet he has a cerebral side that belies his menacing image. Going off want you to be angry at homelessness on the streets of England and the cowardly domestic violence that men subject women to behind closed doors. Come on people, wake up.

As a hardcore band, you should always ask, “what type of hardcore?” when listening to this music. Fortunately, Going Off do not bother with the chaotic Minor Threat rage of the genre’s punk origins. Instead, they play caveman metal riffs and groove like Madball. A vibrating hum introduces a menacing palm-muted sequence of chords for Huxley to cling onto like a baboon to a tree branch on opener, ‘Crossroads’. Listen to the 90s snare sound in the drumbeats and the use of pinch harmonics to punctuate the gaps between the ringing chords – this is how you create structures out of vicious noise. You’ll feel like you’re hanging onto a rope during the first verse of ‘Pay the Price’. The drummer shows a great impatience to wheel out the blast beats, but then the song falls into a sludge metal dirge with a Jaz Coleman-esque tone of voice cursing the villainous protagonist of the lyrics with bad karma.

There’s a clear nu metal sway to ‘Teeth’. “You know it doesn’t have to be this way – you can shut the fuck up,” roars Huxley. He delivers his words like an outpatient recovering from a genital infection. The way the band bring the action to a halt and then re-emerge with a dangerous bass guitar chug will keep you on the life support machine. Underneath the rough guitar riffs and ugly distortion is an infectious metallic aggression that fans of the classic Sepultura line-up will latch onto after one listen to ‘Weak Links’. Likewise, hanging fifth chords provide the framework on ‘Smile’ for you to drop your shoulders and two-step. The message here is that it’s okay to dispense with the brave smile when things get tough in life. Musically, they soon grind things to a near standstill with simple chord scrapes that ruminate like a soldier with PTSD. How do they make the tempo even slower from here?

Perhaps the most punk thing about this record is the brattish twang to Huxley’s voice. It’s a spiteful tone rather than a venomous one. You can hear his lisp simmer underneath the fury on ‘Better Than Me’. The impatience to reach the ceremonial breakdown section in ‘Bed of Concrete’ seems more urgent than the plight of the homeless people the band empathise with in the lyrics. Guitars and vocals work in onomatopoeia to form a savage front-line of attack in closing track, ‘Servant to the Skin’. You can breathe, yet you feel smothered. The bassist is the fallen angel enjoying his transgressions in this song.

Going Off wrapped up a recent tour in support of Employed to Serve and Pupil Slicer. There’s no doubt they’ll be a fixture of the English hardcore scene with the backing of Church Road Records and the continued praise of Kerrang! One thing’s for sure – we won’t overlook their next record.

JVB


Verdict


Release Date: 01/12/2023

Record Label: Church Road Records

Standout tracks: Crossroads, Pay the Price, Weak Links

Suggested Further Listening: Utilitarian – Stay Angry EP (2020), Extinguish – Extinguish (2022), Thlurm – The Thlurm Must Die / Dungeon Scum (2022)