Album Review: Reliqa - Eventide

Band: Reliqa

Album: Eventide

Genre: Alternative Metal

Release Date: 9 November 2018

Review by Samantha Wolstenholme

It’s one of my great pleasures as a music reviewer to unearth, profile, and wax lyrical about the incredible talent that is constantly emerging in our local heavy music scene right here in Australia. I’d been hearing quite a bit of press around Central Coast alt metal dynamos Reliqa with the imminent release of their sophomore EP Eventide, and as a huge fan of female-fronted heavy metal in particular, this instantly piqued my curiosity. Now several listens later, I am glad to report that Eventide exceeded my already high expectations. Throughout the EP’s expansive eight tracks, Reliqa offers a fresh take on female-fronted metal that is underpinned by the four-piece’s remarkably unique sound that transcends genre yet remains incredibly accessible.

Opening track 'Hangman' showcases this unique versatility. Steadily creeping keys, synths and lead guitar melodies float in and out of the track in an unearthly, uneasy dance, interspersed with pulsating, almost electric riff-driven passages that evoke a Sybreed-esque cyberpunk feel, and catchy, anthemic choruses led by vocalist Monique Pym’s distinctive, velvety alto, which is reminiscent of Paramore’s Hayley Williams. Lead guitarist Brandon Lloyd must also receive a mention for the luscious, lightning guitar solos he executes effortlessly that top off this track.

The powerful and passionate 'Into Fire' follows, ramping up the lush layers of orchestrations and building the intensity towards a solid breakdown section that leads seamlessly into 'The Halfway Point', which takes off fast and furious with arpeggiated lead guitars and driving riffs. Keys tinkle gently in the background and the tension increases until a ferocious, defiant chorus abruptly explodes out of nowhere, and Pym’s powerful vocals cut through the thick rhythmic texture like a guillotine falling. What’s most impressive about this track is the array of musical styles and genres that are referenced and cleverly intertwined in only a four-minute time span – from Otep-like industrial metal to symphonic passages reminiscent of Delain, to lightning-fast melodeath sections reminiscent of The Agonist.

Colourful instrumental 'Golden Age' gives the instrumental section time to shine, showcasing the virtuosic technical ability of each member of the band, and this bleeds into the absolute banger of a track 'E.O.D.', which opens with a punchy, rather proggy riff that is underscored by a very funky bass line. The track traverses through beautiful melodic threads of sound and a soaring chorus, calming down towards the end with an extended jazz-like vocals/keys/guitars cadenza that leads neatly into the EP’s most meditative track, 'Earthbound'. The EP crashes to a close with the dynamic 'Doomed', which really explores Reliqa’s modern stylistic sensibilities, jumping from catchy choruses to jazzy, melodic bridges to crushing breakdowns and finally culminating in the final track 'Déjà Vu', which between its anthemic choruses and impressively complex drum patterns ends the EP in a triumph of both technique and raw emotive power.

Right from the getgo, something that really struck me about Eventide is the highly innovative approach to songwriting that Reliqa maintains in each individual track, and each track stands out from the others whilst the EP flows cohesively as a whole, cemented by the band’s confident and mature sound. This is a band that is unafraid to push the boundaries and play with sound in all kinds of creative ways. Eventide is a triumph and a landmark for Australian alternative metal, and I definitely foresee a bright future ahead for this talented quartet.

9.5 out of 10.

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