Reliqa – Afterlight EP
Released: January 5th, 2018
Monique Pym – Vocals
Miles Knox – Guitars & Bass
Brandon Lloyd – Guitars & Bass
Shannon Griesberg – Drums
Central Coast genre benders Reliqa have brought out their debut EP and I’ve been tasked with reviewing it. Boasting aggressive riffs and powerhouse vocals, Reliqa claims to have a unique blend of metal on offer for us. They also state they’re like Linkin Park, Avenged Sevenfold, and Metallica which I also appreciate, so that’s a good start. Let’s really see what’s on the EP and if they’re worth the time.
First up is ‘Insomnia’ and the song starts off with a mammoth riff leading into an explosion of drums and guitar that will have any self-respecting mosher off his feet in any live setting. Unfortunately after 30 seconds, the track slows in pace and the vocals come in. It’s here that I face my biggest problem with the song and the EP as a whole, Monique’s vocals are weak. In this song, the whole lead up to the chorus just sounds like karaoke night and it’s really hard to get used to. Fortunately, as the track progresses the vocals get stronger and the chorus for this one really soars. The background “oh’s” and “ah’s” sound really good and I love the lyrics “I’ll go down singing silent pleas to a face that I once loved”. The chorus as a whole is catchy and has an epic Evanescence vibe. The whole album has that vibe which is why I’m surprised they haven’t put them as an influence. ‘Insomnia’ is also way too long at 5 minutes, there’s a cool breakdown at the 3 minute mark which fits the genre bending but then it goes back to the same verse/chorus for a bit and then an alright guitar solo at the end. Maybe some fat chewing is necessary to get this track’s full potential out.
Next up is ‘A Ruthless Breed’ and straight off the bat the band come in with a very cool and not entirely straightforward riff which is good and there are hints of piano in the background that I particularly loved. You can actually hear the bass in this track and it’s chunky and funky but still subtle. There’s also a funky bit of guitar right before the chorus which is very early Red Hot Chili Peppers. Once again I must say the vocals are hit and miss with certain bits of the verses sounding perfectly acceptable and the chorus sounding just lacklustre. The delivery is poor early in the song and Monique sounds like she just woke up. The second half of the song has far more passion and again hits on that Evanescence sound with some very pleasant vocal overlapped. Clocking in at just under 4 minutes makes this track better than the first with enough good stuff to make it worth a listen and not overstay its welcome.
‘False State’ follows and starts with my favourite thing about this entire EP… The opening 30 seconds is just piano and Monique’s vocals as she showcases the potential her voice has. It’s beautiful and haunting. Like if Adele and Amy Lee had a baby and made a James Bond song. After that, the guitar slides in and the track picks up the pace a bit. The bass weaves a damn fine web around the slower bits of this song and it’s awesome to hear. This track definitely shoots for epic and comes very close to hitting it, going back and forth between different tempos and having a very 80’s metal feel. My head keeps going to Iron Maiden or Judas Priest when trying to compare the sound in general to something. Duelling guitar solos and layered vocals scattered throughout, I can see the Avenged Sevenfold love. Towards the latter half of the track Monique sings the lyrics “and I’ll give what I give to live again” and it perfectly showcases the problems I have with the vocals. She doesn’t sound like she’s putting everything into her voice and it falls flat. On to the next song.
Next up is ‘Tyrant’ and oh boy what an intro. Brutal sounding drums from Shannon lead up to a mental beat drop. I can see the moshpits forming in my head now just listening to it. Too bad that doesn’t last long before the song slows and in comes the vocals. Most of this song is kind of aggressively talked, not even rapped, maybe they were going for a Slipknot – ‘Spit It Out’ vibe, but for me that didn’t work. Shiraaz Rahim shows up to do some screaming and it’s fairly bad in my opinion. The highs aren’t bad but the low guttural screams are very poor which is disappointing as it ruins a good minute of the track. It was at this point that it hit me that Reliqa sound just like those songs you unlock while playing Call of Duty Zombies. Seriously listen to ‘Tyrant’ and then check out Beauty of Annihilation by Elena Siegman.
Last on the EP is ‘Omega’ and it starts with a heavy headbanging riff that gets even better when the drums and bass come in. Miles, Brandon and Shannon all do well on this track (and on the EP in general), nothing really to complain about there. This offering feels like the big anthem that’s meant to get everyone singing, you got the huge “woah oh oh’s” in the chorus that are always a sure fire way to get everyone participating. The simple chorus “get a goddamn grip you headcase” is easy to learn and repeat. This is actually Monique’s most consistent vocal performance which is great to hear and makes the closing of the EP more enjoyable.
To fully sum up this EP one has to remember that it is Reliqa’s first offering and they’re a young band. After hearing Afterlight in full the word that lingers on my brain more than anything is potential. Instrumentally they are already wonderfully talented with Miles, Brandon, and Shannon putting together some awesome and interesting compositions that hit epic heights at times with all sorts of little genre bending moments that are great to listen to. Monique, however, shows great potential to be an amazing singer and there are glimpses of that here and there in this EP, but overall it just didn’t work for me this time. As I’ve said though this band has immense potential. With more practice, the vocals could reach dizzying heights and Reliqa could truly hit their stride in the future. No band’s first EP is perfect but I have hope that one day I’ll sit down to listen to the new Reliqa album and my mind will truly be blown.
Reliqa – Afterlight tracklisting
- A Ruthless Breed
- False State