Nothing makes me happier than seeing a group of young guns carrying the torch for heavy metal. It is clear that the sounds of metal are continuing down the bloodlines to the younger generations and should remain doing so for quite some time. In some weird sense, this allows me to actually sleep at night, knowing that the music me and so many others cherish is in good hands. Yet when I mention carrying the torch, Alien Weaponry are not only carrying it, but they are raising it damn high. The trio out of New Zealand is comprised of fifteen year old Lewis de Jong (guitar and vocals), fifteen year old Ethan Trembath (bass guitar), and seventeen year old Henry de Jong (drums). They are gearing up to release their savage debut album entitled Tū, which is set to be released June 1st, 2018 via Napalm Records.
With Tū, Alien Weaponry infuse straightforward heavy metal, powerful vocal melodies, and most importantly, their culture within their sound. Perhaps the most unique and intriguing feature about this band is that cultural aspect involved in their grooving, heavy sound. Descendants of Ngati Pikiāo and Ngati Raukawa ancestry, the group share their Māori perspective, history, and language (Te Reo Māori) with the metal community worldwide. This perspective is definitely refreshing, insightful, and shares darker tales of their lineage, lending itself to this albums strong sounding tribal presence.
Tū opens up with ‘Waikōrero’, which captures the sounds of subtle buzzing, an uncanny flute playing (perhaps a Maori flute), and the native Maori language being spoken, all atop the calming sound of rainfall. This intro sets the spirit of what is to be expected throughout the album and crosses over into the next track ‘Rū Ana Te Whenua’. Beginning with a Maori group chant that sets off into a thundering introductory breakdown, the second track erupts with a thrashing Soulfly-esque energy. This song maintains its vitality and establishes their simple, yet enormous sound. Employing guitar riffs that aren’t exactly technical by any means, but deliver a nice rugged tone that fits the music perfectly.
Getting into the aforementioned vocal melodies, De Jong is exemplary in his vocal delivery in many of these songs. His yelling voice, although not extremely deep or in your face, has a nicely fitting range that suits his young age. Where he shines on this record is in choruses on songs such as ‘Holding My Breath’, ‘Kai Tangata’, and ‘Whispers’ the later being a song that holds a great amount of significance in the protection/defense of their beautiful culture, producing very sincere and powerful melodies in the vein of the almighty Corey Taylor. He does the same thing with tracks ‘Rage (It Takes Over Again)’ and the highly political track ‘Nobody Here’, songs which both possess that emotionally layered vocal range that seems beyond his years.
The band definitely showcases more aggressive tracks such as ‘Raupatu’, ‘PC Bro’, ‘Urutaa’ and ‘Te Ara’. Perhaps the most crushing song on the album ‘Raupatu’ opens up with a “Hammer Smashed Face” style riff that turns into this full on headbanging thrasher. The bass falls in line with the riff making it super meaty and clean sounding, it absolutely rips. ‘Urutaa’ begins with a soft piano intro that develops into a very cool drum beat. The chorus is the word “Urutaa” shouted over a very melodic guitar chord, producing a captivating chorus. Te Ara begins with the sound of a drum, native language, and the sounds of buzzing which develops into a Gojira sounding instrumental. This proceeds until a native maori chant powerfully concludes the album. It has a very smooth delivery and great transitions, showcasing their great songwriting abilities.
Alien Weaponry have a very good grasp on songwriting, but you can definitely hear the innocence and limitations in their musical abilities. Although they play with a strong sense of competency, at this point you can really hear specific influences in their music, which makes sense since they are still so damn young. On the other hand it is very exciting to see where these young ones will take their sound, because at this point the sky’s the limit.
By fusing their Māori culture within their music, Alien Weaponry offer the world of metal something completely new and special. Incorporating Haka (war dance) in their music videos, speaking in their native tongue, and telling stories of the Māori history, puts this band in a league of their own at the moment. Not to mention the absolutely incredible image of the Māori warrior (in mask) pictured on the front cover of the new record. The title Tū couldn’t be more fitting for their debut album, as it not only represents the Māori god of war, but it also represents the strength and pride that went into this album.
YOU CAN PRE-ORDER YOUR COPY OF ALIEN WEAPONRY ‘Tū’ HERE