Reliqa | Credit: Supplied

Love Letter To A Record: Reliqa On Deadlights’ ‘The Uncanny Valley’

Music Feeds’ Love Letter to a Record series asks artists to reflect on their relationship with the music they love and share stories about how it has influenced their lives. Here, Monique Pym, frontwoman of Newcastle prog metal sensations Reliqa, opens up about a local album that had a huge impact on her artistic journey: Brisbane post-hardcore act Deadlights’ 2021 LP, ‘The Uncanny Valley.’

It comes as Reliqa gear up to release new music of their own, with their upcoming debut album Secrets of the Future slated to arrive on Friday, 31st May via Greyscale Records and Nuclear Blast Records. You can pre-order the LP here, catch Reliqa live on their album headline tour across Australia this June (scroll for dates) or read Monique’s love letter to Deadlights’ ‘The Uncanny Valley’ down below.

Reliqa’s Monique Pym: Love Letter To Deadlights’ The Uncanny Valley LP

Monique: I’ve spoken a little bit about this album in some other chats that I’ve had the pleasure of being a part of, but never to the length that I would really like. And honestly, I could make a podcast about how much I love this album. Not going to lie though, it wouldn’t be a very good podcast, it would just be me yapping. 

I think I captured my feelings about this album the best way the other day when I was speaking with someone else, I said, “I’m so upset that this album does not have the love that it deserves”. It should be massive! But in a way, I’m being a little bit of a gatekeeper as well. I’m like, “I get to keep it for myself if I don’t share it with the world!”. That’s not to say that I’m the only bloody person who listens to it, Deadlights have a very dedicated fan base, I do know that. And I’m not the only one who feels this way about this album. There are a few of us around who are obsessed

When I found that album in 2021, it just hit at the right time because I think I was falling out of love with heavy music a little bit… I don’t know exactly what it was, but I found myself listening to different genres of music – which is great! A little bit of musical education never hurt anybody. But I was feeling a little bit uninspired at the time by heavy music. Sometimes you know what you want to hear in a genre, and when you’re not really getting it at the time, it drives you away to different places. And suddenly this record drops! I can’t remember exactly what it was that got me into it. It wasn’t that I hadn’t been a fan of Deadlights, I just don’t think I was really on their radar at that particular time. Something happened that made me want to listen to it. And I did – and I instantly fell in love with it. 

I remember the first time that I listened to The Uncanny Valley, I was driving. My favourite place to listen to music is on long drives in the car, just FYI for a little fun fact about Monique. I was driving to Newcastle and had a bit of time, so I popped The Uncanny Valley on. And I remember talking out loud to myself, which sounds so crazy I know. But I distinctly remember once I got to the song ‘Pythia’, there’s a vocal at the end of it by Tynan [Reibelt], who is their clean singer I believe. I think he’s also the guitarist as well. But he does this insane high vocal belt on ‘Pythia’, and I remember just saying out loud, “What the fuck?!”. It was as if someone else was in the car with me and I was saying it to them! But it was involuntary, it was just this huge reaction. I just felt so deeply in love with it, and it sort of reawakened my love for heavy music at the time.

I honestly would call what they do progressive metalcore, which is what we call Reliqa today. And that’s not to say that these two bands sound exactly the same. We could fit well together, but we are also very different. I think we do have genre crossovers in a way, they have this raw, brutal side of the heavy sound that you really sort of itch for when you want something that punches, something that hits. But then you’ve also got that airy, soaring, clean, sharp-as-a-knife’s edge, kind of glittering, metallic, modern style sort of thing. You’ve got that blanketing over the top, like a thin white sheet. And I just think that that is so brilliant, that’s exactly what I want out of music. Other people have done it since. I think Spiritbox’s Eternal Blue came out after that, and that’s another band that does that so well, with that crisp, white sheet over the top of this deeper and raw heavy sound. 

The Uncanny Valley ended up inspiring my songwriting a lot. And I think that they work with contrast really well. For this album in particular, contrast is a great word for it, it’s got that contrast between genre but it’s also a futuristic album. I have a love of sci-fi literature and material, and The Uncanny Valley is more sci-fi than anything we lean into in Secrets of the Future. On The Uncanny Valley, you’ve got interludes, and there’s this one interlude called ‘[I See the Future]’ that has an AI voice reciting this poem that I assume the band wrote. It so nicely sets the tone for the whole album. Also, the album opens with its title track, ‘The Uncanny Valley’, and I love the idea of opening with a title track, it feels grounded and it feels so on brand. And because they have that lyric, “welcome to the Uncanny Valley” in the song, it’s so inviting. It draws you in. The album has also got this quirkiness to it, which I really love as well. You’ve got the heaviness, you’ve got the cleanliness, and then you’ve got the dash of weird sort of sprinkling over the top. That’s where the progressive comes in. 

If anyone wanted to have the key to my heart, it would be to write an album that is a sequel to The Uncanny Valley. I actually had the opportunity to speak with the band too when I was in Brisbane. They’re just mates, they’re a band from Brisbane and they’re really cool. I mean, I should be kissing the ground that they walk on because they made this incredible album that meant so much to me. But they’re just dudes from Brisbane, which makes it really special. I’m really glad that I am able to write this love letter to a band that is so close to home, because I think that there are so many amazing Australian bands that deserve that kind of recognition and just don’t receive it. Deadlights are doing amazing things, I don’t want any of this to sound like, “Oh, they’re so small. Why are they so small?”. I’m not looking down on them in any way. I’m really just trying to say that they should be massive. I don’t think they’ve gone overseas yet, I could be wrong. I know that they’ve supported some amazing internationals and they’ve done some really cool headline stuff. But I want to see them conquer the world. And they actually haven’t done too much recently. I hope that they’re writing the sequel to this album because I will eagerly eat it up when it does come.

I was speaking to Dylan [Davidson], one of the vocalists from Deadlights when I saw him at Monolith two years ago, and I said, “Look, I would be remiss if I didn’t take this opportunity to tell you how much this record means to me”. And I sort of kissed his feet for a bit and blew smoke. And then he actually said that that album didn’t have the reception that they were hoping for because their previous record, Mesma, received a lot more love.. And that’s an amazing album too, don’t get me wrong. But they did take some risks on The Uncanny Valley, and I just want to be the advocate for those risks. I want to be the person that can say, “Don’t be put off by taking those risks”. 

My message to Deadlights is: there are people who absolutely love it and it will pay off. And I just applaud that, and I think that it’s really cool that there are bands out there who paved the way, even though they don’t know they’re paving the way. Deadlights probably don’t know that they were a huge inspiration for our album Secrets of the Future. But they will now. And hopefully that’s going to reach a whole variety of people, which creates a domino effect. They’re paving the way for a new generation of versatile and diverse acts to take the stage. I love that record, and I hope that this captured my feelings about it.

Stream: Deadlights – The Uncanny Valley

Reliqa Secrets Of The Future Tour Dates And Venues

  • Friday, 14th June 2024 – Unibar, Adelaide 18+*
  • Saturday, 15th June 2024 – Bergy Bandroom, Melbourne 18+
  • Thursday, 20th June 2024 – Black Bear Lodge, Brisbane 18+
  • Saturday, 22nd June 2024 – Bootleggers, Sydney 18+
  • Sunday, 23rd June 2024 – Drifters Wharf, Gosford Lic/AA ^

*W/ Caligula’s Horse, Rinrin Not Appearing

^ Never Had So Much Fun Fest, Rinrin Not Appearing

Tickets on sale now via Destroy All Lines

Further Reading:

Reliqa Release New Single ‘Dying Light’ From Upcoming Debut Album, ‘Secrets Of The Future’

Reliqa Announce Debut Album ‘Secrets Of The Future’

For Fans Of: Evanescence | Introducing: Sydney’s Reliqa

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