The music industry is not a place for the faint-hearted.
Dealing with rejection, competition, judgement, financial uncertainty and personal struggles are all par for the course in a thankless and oversaturated industry.
Since the release of their debut record We Will Reign back in 2014, New York-based outfit The Last Internationale has certainly endured their fair share of difficult times. Having been dropped by their then record label Epic, evicted from their apartment in LA, as well as not having the money to make a new album – things were certainly at rock bottom for the pair. But in stepped Tom Morello, who gave the band the strength and motivation to keep on going.
The support of the RATM machine legend was not only morale, but he also took the role as Executive Producer on the band’s new album Soul On Fire.
So what better place to start on the new record than the track Hard Times itself. And from the off, you can hear just how much the band has sunk their heart and soul into this album. To be able to truly represent a song, you’ve got to be able to sing and perform with a degree of honesty. And because of the life experiences the pair has gained, this is a characteristic that The Last Internationale has in spades.
There is not only personal growth in this record but also musical evolution. There is a rawness to the tracks on the album that you don’t find on their debut. And Mind Ain’t Free is a testament to this. With its heavy fuzz fuelled groove, and catchy hooks it certainly hits the spot at the top of the album.
With Try Me, TLI changes gears with a more contemporary, soulful blues number. The track conjures up a sound reminiscent to current greats from the genre such as Gary Clark Jr.
Whilst the band continues on the blues-rock tip with the thunderous, slide infused number Tempest Blues. If the previous track has a more contemporary feel, this song certainly has a more old school blues vibe to it. And the addition of former QOTSA drummer Joey Castillo on the record certainly gives the song a full-bodied rhythm.
Tracks like Freak Revolution bring a more retro, psychedelic sound to the record, whilst the title track itself builds with a slow, emotive intro featuring keys. Delila’s soaring vocals in the latter stages of the track are a joy to behold.
With its acoustic intro, God Is A Sound starts a bit slower than most on the album, but it builds into a brooding and passionate number as the song progresses. Whilst Hit Em With Your Blues ebbs and flows between fully electrified riffs which are balanced out between acoustic segments during the breakdown. This marriage of these two different styles of play is quite effective.
There is no holding back with the penultimate song on the album – 5th World. With its heavy tuning, pounding rhythm and ferocious psychedelic guitar riffs towards the climax, the song is one of the many highlights of the record. Once again Delila’s vocal delivery is passionate and on point.
The album concludes with a gospel-tinged Outro, which features a joyous acapella performance by Paz. Here The Last Internationale quite literally takes the listener to church.
Soul On Fire is not just the album The Last Internationale wanted to make, but it is the album they needed to make. The record became a cathartic release, a means to highlight their personal growth and upward trajectory from the harrowing journey they’ve experienced in recent years. And judging by the quality of the songs on this album from here on, it’s onwards and upwards.