Reliqa – I Don’t Know What I Am (EP Review)

Reliqa – I Don’t Know What I Am EP 
Released: September 16th, 2022

Lineup

Monique Pym // Vocals & Keys
Miles Knox // Bass
Brandon Lloyd // Guitars
Benjamin Knox // Drums

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Sydney/Warrane proggers Reliqa are actually inappropriately named. ‘Reliqa’ suggests a relic, an item or artefact from a time in the past, when their sound and their music is anything but. You could also mount an argument to state that the title of this EP is awry as well. This band knows exactly and precisely who and what they are, what their direction is and what they’re trying to achieve, musically. 

And what that is, is to create transcendent progressive heavy rock of the present and the future, not the past.

Meet Reliqa (L-R): Benjamin, Mon, Brandon and Miles

Everything about this band is inextricably modern, from being on the cutting edge of female-fronted heavy prog acts (when you gaze across the prog spectrum, very few – although by no means none – feature female frontpeople), to the sparkling, state-of-the-art production of this EP, to the imaginative and ground-breaking manner in which they write and put together their dynamic, surprising and happily perplexing tunes. 

Their sound is a frothing, bubbling boiling pot of elements, all stirred together over a roaring blaze, seasoned to perfection and then ultimately served up in the form of something paradoxically coherent and cohesive, something that makes for extraordinarily entertaining listening. 

Take the opening (and title) track as an example. The song gleefully throws acapella vocals punctuated by syncopated stabs of heavy guitar, drums and bass, an enormously fat and heavy, double-kick-driven groove and ethereal atmospherics at the listener, and that’s just in the first 45 seconds. From there, we get a soaring chorus, percussive, experimental electronica, lashings of formulated musical chaos, melodic shredding lead guitar, marching beats and then, as if you weren’t unsettled enough, as if your ears weren’t sufficiently thrown out of their comfort zone, another fat, key-changed heavy groove comes out of absolutely nowhere to form the outro of the song. To say it’s a wild ride is the understatement of the year so far, and it all takes place in just over four minutes.

Phew!

I Don’t Know What I Am sets up expectations for the rest of the EP beautifully. Suffice it is to say that said musical ideas just keep flying at you from all over the place, keeping you on your toes, seemingly disparate elements thrown together that shouldn’t work, but do. There’s plenty of heaviness for the rock and metal dogs to sink their teeth into, a sweet, soaring, string and piano-laden ballad (‘Second Nature’, which also features a Livin’ on a Prayer-level final chorus keychange), a devastating guest vocal spot from one of the luminaries of Australia’s heavy music scene (Make Them Suffer’s Sean Harmanis on ‘Safety), an experimental instrumental piece (‘.blip’), hip-hoppy vocals, middle-eastern moments and plenty more besides. In fact, there are more musical ideas flowing through and around this six-track EP than many bands communicate in their entire careers. 

And this is only possible from a band that are masters of their individual crafts, the craft of songwriting and of putting it all together in an intelligible and listenable package. 

Reliqa are the future of Australian progressive heavy rock, and have a massive future ahead of them across the globe if they play their cards right. Next must be a full album, as they must be allowed to fully stretch out and truly show the world what they can do. 

Hopefully that time is not too far away.

Reliqa – I Don’t Know What I Am EP tracklisting:

1. I Don’t Know What I Am
2. The Bearer of Bad News
3. Safety feat. Sean Harmanis
4. Second Nature
5. .blip
6. The Ritualist

Rating: 9.5/10
I Don’t Know What I Am is out Friday. Pre-order/pre-save here
Review by Rod Whitfield

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