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Protest Song Of The Week: ’23’ By Soul Glo

Philadelphia hardcore group Soul Glo formed four summers ago in July of 2014. They have released a handful of records.

They meld the influence of hardcore, black metal, and screamo, incorporating samples and poetry too. Mostly, they describe their music as “aggressive.”

Lyrically, singer Pierce Jordan often writes in full sentences, pieces that could be published on their own, speaking to his own lived experiences and the realities of being a person of color in America today.

With song titles like “Violence Against Black Women Goes Largely Unreported” and “Guilty of Being…. Wait,” they take aspects of American life that so many choose not to see and stare listeners in the eye with it.

Speaking of the band’s origins and songwriting goals, Jordan noted in a 2017 interview: “I started to get really possessed by the idea of learning about myself and what I believe in by writing about how I and others live and what we see around us during our lives.”

“A lot of what I feel like I really should be talking about is truly foul and ugly shit, and I wanted to keep it real by addressing that instead of vague poetry,” Jordan continued. “I like the idea of trying to approach this shit, where the vocal delivery matches how hard all the other musicians in the band have to work, how fast they have to play.”

Their discography includes an untitled full-length debut from December 2014 (released six months after they formed), a follow-up LP (also untitled), and most recently a three-song tour tape, which leads with the track “23.”

“Emotional assimilation is trauma’s worn, scar-tissued skin, seared by state-sanctioned aspirations,” Jordan sings, uttering the word “trauma” seven times, first plain-spoken then escalating into a gnarled shout.

At 40 seconds, the band pulls in that chaos, tightly punctuating Jordan’s every word as the verse stomps on:

“And all the people I see whose suffering’s steeped in dreams of nothing when their eyes close to sleep / don’t see the void that they meet as so much more comforting / I dream of nothing when I close my eyes to sleep / Each day awake just lies in wait to shape, in vain, clean breaks away from daily debasement.”

Listen to “23” by Soul Glo:

Image adapted from "Shadows" by kdigga on Flickr
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Liz Pelly

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