ALBUM REVIEW: Soul Glo – ‘Diaspora Problems’

A collection of items arranged in a shrine, including money, candles, a book of scriptures and a Cookie Monster toy

When Soul Glo released their Songs To Yeet At The Sun EP at the end of 2020, there was a subset of hardcore fans singing its praises to almost impossibly loud degrees. It’s not hard to see why either, in its combination of hardcore and modern trap flows that was on the precipice of something truly special, and held a much greater presence than the rather oblique and obscure releases that had preceded it. Since then, Soul Glo have signed to Epitaph and released a pair of new EPs last year, but Diaspora Problems is the biggest next step they can take off the back of that furious wave of excitement. A brand new full-length imbued with their borderline limitless potential is arresting on its own, to which Soul Glo have followed up on by wringing out their most immediately inspired prospects and turbocharging them to frankly insane degrees. This is what hardcore should be aiming to be in 2022—vicious, provocative, and carrying such a distinct sense of purpose and identity that’s impossible to miss. Soul Glo tap into a profoundly pointed source of inspiration, in which life as both a musician and an African-American are marred by the hellscapes of capitalism and systemic racism, and exacerbated by past traumas, unrest and self-loathing that such systems just take to be the norm. There’s nothing sanitised or cleaned-up about it; Soul Glo rip into their oppressive institutions with carnivorous force, helmed by Pierce Jordan who clearly possesses about four extra sets of lungs to achieve the sorts of vocal onslaughts he provides. There’s phenomenal vocal control there, in blending screams with a dexterity and elasticity akin to someone like Young Thug, most evident on Driponomics and its dalliances with purer trap that are still imbued with hardcore aggression. It’s also telling how many of Diaspora Problems’ standout guest contributions come from underground rappers, almost as a means of highlighting a kinship and connective tissue between both sides even further, where a song like Spiritual Level Of Gang Shit can so expertly switch from Mckinley Dixon and Lojii’s contemplative, thoughtful verses to its visceral hardcore finisher.

Because, at the end of the day, Soul Glo are still a hardcore band, and though that ultimately plays more into the purely musical makeup, Diaspora Problems still does enough with it to feel as fresh and exciting as their whole concept points towards. It should be said that there’s a surprisingly strong melodic backbone to this album, most evident in how Thumbsucker or The Thangs I Carry are drawn to Every Time I Die-esque cues in razor-sharp rock ‘n’ roll. As with everything in Soul Glo’s arsenal though, the knife’s edge it all rests on is where the real thrills come in, combustible to a fault and, on Gold Chain Punk (whogonbeatmyass) and Fucked Up If True, showing how prominent said thrills are when it all collapses in on itself, and the impeccable tension begins to wear and fray. That’s all by design though, and the Bad Brains comparisons don’t feel coincidental in the slightest. Soul Glo’s means of surging forth and cutting through the own chaff is borderline identical, in that there’s a level of quality that rises to the top effectively by design, and not discreetly either. It’s wild and unchained, and songs like Jump!! (Or Get Jumped!!!)(by the future)) or We Wants Revenge take every opportunity available to them to rampage and embody punk in its most unfiltered sense. That’s not even touching on the horns that’ll occasionally come in to bolster some of Soul Glo’s more melodic leanings, or the way that GODBLESSYALLREALGOOD collapses into thick, thunderous bass that doesn’t overtake the hardcore vivacity around it; moments like these are what ultimately push Soul Glo over the top in terms of creativity to match the ironclad resolve of their intent. And honestly, it’s hard to think of a hardcore band in recent memory that’s taken it this far and succeeded at it this readily. Diaspora Problems becomes everything that modern hardcore could and should be, a cutting-edge, dangerously relevant and prescient listen that only just gets more and more exhilarating with every listen. Again, this is the standard for where hardcore should be going forward, and even then, it’s hard to see many approaching it with Soul Glo’s drive any time soon.


For fans of: Bad Brains, Fugazi, SeeYouSpaceCowboy

‘Disapora Problems’ by Soul Glo is released on 25th March on Epitaph Records.

Words by Luke Nuttall

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