Album – Fantasmagoria
Soul Jacker are a Welsh alternative rock band formed back around 2018. Having many different influences and leanings, including the likes of blues, punk, indie and psychedelic, they are a hotpot of some of the best, most popular outputs this nation has produced.
Releasing their debut album, Fantasmagoria, in the latter stages of last year, the band continue to be on the up and up. Therefore, of course I have to check them out and see what they’re all about, so please join me in doing so!
Opening on some high guitar feedback before a great fuzzy riff is build in over the top, No Way Out starts off strong. It continues to build and build before exploding into it fully, sounding HUGE and a lot heavier than I was expecting it too, almost Motorhead levels of punk. The vocals come in the verse, sitting very far back in the mix. Between that and the distortion on them it does make it a little hard to work out what is being said. However, the contrast in the lower and higher vocals from Andy Salter are fantastic, ending each part with a powerful few notes that make everything somehow sound even heavier. The chorus definitely leans more into their psychedelic influences, the guitar, bass and vocals all slowing down a little and there almost being an echo feel to it all as the same line is repeated multiple times. It sounded awesome. It drops down after the second chorus to just some low drumbeats and the bass following the same riff as the opening. The guitar soon comes in again over the top, building up in a similar way to the start before exploding into the same massive riff again. We get a great psychedelic style solo come in over the top, though again it gets a little lost in the mix, but I still loved it and it fit the song perfectly. We then get a final solo to finish it all off. A fantastic song to open an album on, the build-up of the intro worked perfectly, and one that easily made the playlist!
Nobody Loves You was the first single from the album to be released. Again, it opens on another heavy riff, this one sludgier and a lot more of a rock riff than anything else. The vocals come in over the top, the guitar calming down only slightly behind them, and sound awesome. It still retains its heaviness while being markedly slower than the previous song. It if anything just makes it easier to understand and sing along to live! The song opens up for the chorus, instrumentation staying fairly similar except for some subtle changes, the high hat being open and the guitar being more open and fuller chords. The vocals here are also awesome, and actually at the end of the second chorus we get a short ending part of it where his voice really reminded me of Ozzy Osbourne’s. It drops down for mere seconds before exploding up into fantastic guitar solo, slow and menacing, matching the tone of the backing instrumentation to a tee. After the solo we get a final verse and chorus to take us home. I loved the double tracked vocals for the second half of the final chorus too! Another brilliant song; one I actually prefer to the previous one. Playlisted!
Dr. Smith, one of the more recent singles, opens on a great, slowish drumbeat. Some nice little clean guitar notes come in, sounding jazzy and psychedelic, but the bassline beneath reminds me a lot of Green Day’s Longview. The vocals are again awesome, somehow fitting the feel of the song perfectly every time. We get the guitar following the bassline through the second half of the verse, building perfectly into a heavier, much bigger and opener chorus. It’s again simple, repeating lyrics, but the ‘na na’s in between are massively catchy. It drops down again after the second chorus, some subtle whispering and stuff going on before it gets back heavy again for a solo. Said solo was great, easily my favourite on the album so far. We then get a final chorus to finish things off. Another great song.
The bands biggest and most recent single The Animals is up next. It opens on a great indie-style riff, especially when all the instruments come in to back it up. It feels a lot like an old Franz Ferdinand/ Kaiser Chiefs song, actually. The verse didn’t actually do all too much for me but the chorus is again massive in its sound and catchiness, another one that would go down a storm live. If I’m honest there really isn’t too much to this song, it stays at the same sort of level throughout, the only part different to all the rest being a shortish guitar solo after the second chorus, but even that was over the top of the same riff that runs throughout the whole song. It is a perfect fit for a single I guess, it’s a catchy, earworm of a riff, but outside of that and the catchy chorus there is not much to write home about with this song.
Fast Natured is another fast, punk inspired song. It’s short, fast and sweet; straight to the point. So much so that the song is over halfway through by the end of the first chorus. Sitting at only two and a half minutes long it is the shortest song on the album, which explains the verse chorus, verse chorus, end structure. However, don’t let that put you off at all, if you are into punk rock at all, check this out, as it is a fantastic punk song.
Time for the final of the album’s singles, Watercolours. Itstarts off the slowest on the album, a beautiful clean guitar picking riff opening it up. It stays slow, the bass and drums coming in to add some great depth to it all behind Andy. It picks up a little distortion in the chorus but it stays at the same sort of slow feel and pace, definitely being the most ballad-like song on the album. I love it, it’s got a dark feel to it for an indie song, it almost giving off ever so slight Tool vibes at times. The vocals also give hints of Anthony Kiedis, adding to the also slight Re Hot Chili Peppers feel of it all. We get another fantastic guitar solo mixed in too for good measure, maybe taking the spot atop my favourite solo on the album.
High Heels channels the bands most blues feel of the album, sounding like a mix between Status Quo and Oasis somehow. However, outside of a frankly fantastic bass solo after the second chorus, sounding like a modern-day version of Got The Time, there isn’t much more I can say about this song. It and the following two tracks, (Like a) Dandy Warhol and Mary Jane, all just kind of feel like they’re there. All are good songs on their own, but put against some of the other fantastic songs from the album so far, they feel just a tiny bit weaker. That may just be me not being as big of a fan of the indie/brit pop type sound, though. Good solos in all though, from both bass and guitar.
Destiny ups the quality again a bit for me, a fantastic slower acoustic ballad. Stripping the band back to acoustic and clean guitar sounds and simply a shaker to keep the beat instead of a full drumkit was a fantastic idea. It gave a much-welcomed change and dynamic to the album and was a major highlight for me, so much so that it made it onto the playlist!
The final song on the album, Run, keeps the pace fairly slow. It feels like the most psychedelic of the album’s tracks, revolving around a simple but great clean guitar sound and distorted vocals through the verses. The distortion and heaviness pick up through the choruses, only adding to the epic feel this song has. The vocals through the chorus are fantastic and the ls. The vocals through the chorus are fantastic and the lyrics are so simple yet fantastically written to fit the feel of the song. It’s a really great choice for a closing song on the album, something I don’t find myself saying anywhere near often these days. THIS IS HOW YOU CLOSE AN ALBUM. In epic, slow but HEAVY style. I loved it, and it made the playlist.
Overall: I loved this so much more than I expected to. However, the sheer amount I feel like I have said that over the last few weeks… maybe I’m more into indie music than I think I am. Clearly the heavier side of it produces some fantastic music, like what was on display here. These guys deserve all the hype and buzz they have earned over the last couple of years and I predict massive things for them in the future!
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