Playing Pain: Soul Glo’s First Release Under Epitaph Records
Following their recent signing with Epitaph Records, the hardcore band confirms their authentic sound.
This past Juneteenth, the Philadelphia four-piece hardcore band Soul Glo released the second-volume of Dis Nigga under Epitaph Records. Conjoining the two EPs, the initial EP released in February of this year, brings the audience to further understand the band’s emotional intensity as subjective beings beyond the fame. Across the three tracks on the latest volume, elements of thrash-heavy punk narrate racially specific dread and despair: confrontational throat-screaming, huge guitar riffs, and an ever-racing tom drum. In 2017, the band’s vocalist, Pierce Jordan, contextualized the band’s racially-specific focus in a predominantly white scene:
“In terms of expressing it to our majority white/non-Black audience, it’s fucking exhausting. I’m concerning myself less and less with it. It’s much more productive to not make anything for them because they’re always going to be around,”
As a fan of everything they’ve released thus far, I was afraid that Soul Glo had “sold out” when I saw they signed to Epitaph Records, the same label as some of my non-revolutionary favorites. Dis Nigga, Vol. 2 brings relief in its fearlessness — in a tweet posted two days ago, Jordan acknowledged this accomplishment for the band:
“all of us over 25, all of us over 200, 3 of us niggas. constant vans issues, mental issues, shit w the law. it was hella times we held back ideas bc we didn’t have the ability to fully produce them. shit is truly held together by dried tears and blood. dont let anyone say u cant”
Dis Nigga, Vol. 2 carries this attitude with pride, doubling down on the ideas on Dis Nigga, Vol. 1. Heavily focused on tropes of revolution, ego, and social-capital inequality, Soul Glo lay themselves bare with as much strength than most hardcore acts today, if not more.
Speaking to both listeners and future fans, Soul Glo’s latest EP reacts to growing fame with frustration. Building a cult following over seven years on Bandcamp, Soul Glo opens with “NIGGA DON’T UPLIFT ME”, a confrontational track that spirals into more rage as it considers everything it took to gain such a supportive fan base: “Why you ain’t check for me when I been showin niggas that we got the recipe. Now get the fuck off me!” The bass-dominant space leaves a darker tone to the track, serving the perfect introduction for prospective fans. Their success isn’t welcomed but questioned. Soul Glo has maintained their integrity across all of these years without a huge fan base, they aren’t compromising now.
There’s a deliberately inaccessible quality to the EP that would surely steer sensitive listeners away. But again, Soul Glo doesn’t wish for that fan base at all. Their 2020 album, “Songs to Yeet At The Sun” and 2019’s “THE NIGGA IN ME IS ME” both feature an ontological dread that prioritizes expression over sensitive ears; Vol. 2 joins the list of EPs that contain an immense amount of Jordan’s introspection as a black man.
However, the album’s focus strays from Jordan to speak for the band given their shifting fan base. “B.O.M.B.S.” holds on to the band’s artistic vision with the growing attention: “This is our pain that saves us everyday, nigga is you hearin this?/ No one doing it like how we doing it, but it’s not like we spent 7 years proving it.” Aesthetically, this song strikes as the most abrasive while featuring the juiciest bass-drum interaction on the album. Jordan’s songwriting lands perfectly here while providing another snapshot of what new listeners are in for.
Soul Glo’s isn’t seeking fame but rather, a safe space for others with similar experiences as the band members to embrace one another. Fame hinders this interaction, or at least how Soul Glo has encouraged it thus far. In the aforementioned interview, Jordan understands that a diverse audience doesn’t necessarily provide him with a space to be heard:
“I’ve found it’s much more worthwhile and satisfying to center this shit around Black people, in and out of the scene… Those are the people who can form the most intrinsic connection to our work,”
Since their band’s formation, Soul Glo has experienced a series of run-ins with the law (ex: “I’m on Probation”) and plenty of financial struggles that have prevented them from expression. Their sound is informed by these experiences as a group of four American men from different racial backgrounds. Some of these experiences are racially specific and do not affect white people as they affect other groups. Moving forward, Soul Glo doesn’t look to pander as they improve the quality of the pain they choose to perform: it’s only upwards from here for the Philly act. Whether you’re on board or not, Soul Glo will surely continue to smear its mark on the world — and it’ll sound better than ever before.
Listen to the album below.