It’s not very often that something truly original happens on the metal scene. Alien Weaponry have seized their opportunity with their very own genre - Māori Metal. A fusion of old school influenced thrash with a dash of hardcore, all served up with the one ingredient nobody else can – a Māori heritage born of blood and passion.
The hype around this unique band from New Zealand is as interesting as the band itself. Many have focused on the age of the band members but their originality and ability both musically and in songwriting deserves that attention alone. Their music carries many influences and you can hear a number of them in the material despite its originality. Their strongest influence at present is Lamb of God and that power and musical dexterity shines through in their modest catalogue.
Brothers Lewis (Guitar/Vocals) and Henry de Jong (drums) are complimented by long-time friend Ethan Trembath (bass) who they met through a local circus school. Their delivery far exceeds that usually delivered by the often limiting three-piece format and this is largely due to the solidity in their playing and the drive to create a brutal thick attack in all they produce. We caught up with Lewis and Henry all the way from their base in Waipu and they explained what they’re all about.
“We are a hybrid of thrash metal and Te Reo Māori (New Zealand’s native language) - one of two official languages of New Zealand. The other one is sign language so Māori is very underused in New Zealand and that’s kind of why we started sing in Te Reo cause we thought it would really work with metal. People will probably associate Te Reo Māori most with Hacka which you will see the All Blacks doing. When we started writing in Māori, our intention was to have a super brutal delivery that said ‘I’m gonna come and cut your head off and eat it’. Most Māori music until we started singing in Te Reo Māori was known in RnB, Hip Hop and Reggae. I personally love all three of those genres but I feel like a lot of people weren’t expecting metal to blend with Te Reo Māori as well as it does and a lot of people have made the connection now between the Hacka and heavy metal and the language really suits the style of music”.
That brutality is supported by their lyrical content. These are no stereotypes here with songs about fictional matters just to fit a genre. The band’s education and passion about their heritage pours from every song and this comes from their education and upbringing. They explained, “A lot of our songs that we’ve written in Māori, we’re talking about political issues with Māori rights and land theft land confiscations. A lot of things that have been quite upsetting for Māori in New Zealand - things that have happened in New Zealand’s history. I guess it’s really fitting for a metal band to be singing about political topics and singing in the native language which makes it even more powerful”.
“A lot of kids have no idea about New Zealand history because it doesn’t get taught in schools. Like the era when Europeans settled here and stole a whole bunch of Māori land and pretty much
decimated the Māori population. Stripped their culture and stripped their way of life pretty much. The reason we know about that is through our father who is very well educated and he knows a lot
about our history. He’s been a real source of knowledge for us”.
The pace of the band’s development has been intense with awards won and accolades earned at home - particularly for their subject matter around New Zealand’s often dark past. This has drawn criticism too from those who deny the past but this has been dealt with respectfully by these mature young artists. The rollercoaster continues to accelerate and the band are clinging onto the experience as they described, “It’s pretty astonishing when you’re in the position. You see this happening to people but you never expect it to happen to you. It’s really weird the position we’re in at the moment. We haven’t quite acclimatised to people knowing who we are and messaging us like you from half-way across the world and wanting to talk to us. It’s pretty unreal for us at the moment”.
The year ahead is beginning to fill with broader opportunities to perform across Europe and will see them travel further than they ever have. The family dynamic of being with your brother in a band, and having your father manage the outfit may well be tested but the brothers are positive, “Having Dad as your manager is really really good and really terrible at the same time. He knows exactly the way me and Lewis think at least and actually – he knows quite a bit how Ethan thinks as well. He knows how to deal with us and get messages across. At times, that can get really frustrating cause when you’re dealing with someone who knows you so well, sometimes you can feel like you’ve got no option but to do something or other”.
That dynamic will continue into the next few years given their age and despite them being signed with German management company ‘das Maschine’. The brothers confirmed that regardless of the German management, their father would continue to be present for legal reasons as well as the paternal support.
So with Dad in tow, the band have bagged some incredible bookings in 2018 such as Bloodstock Open Air, Metaldays, Weltturbojugendtag XIV and the legendary Wacken Open Air. The Wacken slot was something of an ambition as they explained, “One of our goals that we had for a long time as a band was to be playing at Wacken before we were all eighteen. To put that into perspective I’m eighteen this year and the other two are sixteen so things are going insanely fast for us. Everything feels like it’s on a freight train hurtling down a hill. It’s not anything bad at the bottom of the hill (laughs) but it’s picking up momentum. It’s really good and things are going so well for us at the moment. We’re gonna need to set new goals now. I guess our next goal now is to headline Wacken”.
Given the band hadn’t travelled any further than Australia before, this is going to be quite a year for that freight train and with the new album ‘Tū’ being released on 1st June on Napalm Records, we may well see them become even bigger before hitting those hallowed stages. A number of tasters have already been released and their new single ‘Kai Tangata’ came out on 11th May and is as good an indication as any that this band are ready to take on the world.
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