Alien Weaponry – Tangaroa
Released: September 17, 2021
Lewis de Jong | Guitars, Vocals
Tūranga Morgan-Edmonds | Bass
Henry de Jong | Drums
When I first heard Alien Weaponry I likened it to being hit by the All Blacks front row. The music slammed into me and left a permanent mark. When I was a boy growing up in the north of Aotearoa there wasn’t a metal scene, hell there was hardly a music scene. We regularly heard te reo Maori sung and we sang in the language, but that was confined to traditional songs like ‘Pōkarekare ana’, mostly acapella but sometimes with an acoustic guitar. What we didn’t have, nor ever dreamed of, was combining that beautiful language with heavy fucking metal. What others dared not dream, three young Kiwis made a reality. Enter Alien Weaponry. In 2018 the boys burst onto the international scene with their blistering debut Tū, and the album was a springboard for an international tour and a raft of festival appearances, including Download and Wacken. Tours and festivals have been on pause for a while now but that didn’t stop the music. The trio from Waipu put pen to paper, headed back into the studio, and emerged with Tangaroa.
As with their first album, Alien Weaponry largely draw inspiration from their heritage, culture and history, especially around white settlement. New Zealand has a rich history both post and pre-white settlement, a history many have taken great pains to keep alive. For many cultures around the world, history is taught and shared through music, poetry and spoken word. Through music the sharing of stories can have the biggest impact. Who among us hasn’t been inspired to delve into the meanings of songs and discovered fascinating stories you probably slept through in history class. From the outset, Alien Weaponry pay tribute to great leaders of the past. ‘Titokowaru’ is one such leader. The opening track lays down the groundwork for the rest of the album. It’s a trashing heavy tribute to the great Maori Chief with lyrics as brutal as the music. Take, for example, “Ka pīrangi au te kikokiko pākeha”, translated into English its “I crave the flesh of the whiteman”. Stories of invasion and attempted genocide can’t be told in a gentle “bad people on both sides” way, this album is raw and unflinching.
It is said with age comes wisdom, but I would challenge that as brothers Lewis and Henry de Jong, joined by Turanga Morgan-Edmonds, show wisdom beyond their years. Penning songs like the title track ‘Tangaroa’, the three have a deep understanding of what’s happening to the planet. It’s a thrash metal wake up call to stop polluting the oceans. With the title referring to the Maori god of the sea, you do have to wonder how many wake-up calls those supposedly in charge need before something is done.
But the album isn’t all angry thrash. Coming in at the halfway mark is ‘Unforgiving’, sung this time in English, Lewis de Jong’s delivery is angst ridden and pleading and the tempo slows considerably, giving the album depth and shade. The band have obviously grown, not only as song writers, but as musicians and there’s still an overwhelming thrash metal element on this release but hints of punk show through. Swathes of early Metallica give way to enough fuck you to make Jello Biafra of The Dead Kennedys proud. Alien Weaponry are at their best when singing in their native tongue. There’s a certain passion and force that doesn’t translate across to English and that generally holds true on this album. The exception being ‘Buried Underground’. Released as a single, the song is as devastating as it is complex with enough timing changes to give you whiplash, while still delivering a chugging groove.
If you, like me, crave new music devoid of clichés while still having a deep connection to the roots of traditional heavy metal, Alien Weaponry with Tangaroa will tick all those boxes. It’s no exaggeration to say they’ve carved their own niche, opening the way for heavy first nations bands from all over the word. No mean feat for three guys from Northland.
Alien Weaponry – Tangaroa tracklisting:
- Ahi Kā
- Kai Whatu
- Crooked Monsters
- Buried Underground
- Down the Rabbit Hole