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Alien Weaponry - Tangaroa

Alien Weaponry
Tangaroa
by Mark Machlay at 03 November 2021, 6:28 AM

The young and intriguing metal band from New Zealand, ALIEN WEAPONRY released their sophomore effort “Tangaroa” this past September. The band was formed in Aukland in 2010 by two brothers, drummer Henry de Jong and guitarist/singer Lewis de Jong when they were a mere 10 and 8 years old respectively. After moving to a small town named Waipu they were joined by bassist Ethan Trembath in April 2013, replacing Wyatt Channings who briefly played bass for the band their previous year. Fast forward a few years to 2016 when the band would become the first to win both nationals finals of Smokefreerockquest and Pacifica Beats. They would tour for a couple more years throughout Europe and North America supporting bands like MINISTRY. They eventually released their debut “Tū” featuring the hit single “Kai Tangata”. This would land them much more notoriety due to its tribal tonality with a heavy and fresh groove metal sound. On August 19th of 2020, it was announced that longtime bassist Ethan Trembath would be departing the band, being replaced by high school friend Tūranga Morgan-Edmonds who was also of Māori descent, and as a result, now all the members of the band have a connection to Māori heritage.

Continuing to combine groove/thrash metal with Māori influences, the New Zealand trio’s second album “Tangaroa” is highly anticipated, especially after the explosive debut and buzz from their electrifying live shows. They became arguably one of the most talked about new bands in the metal community in the 18 months after their debut. Their ability to infuse Māori roots with cavernous grooves was made even more awe-inspiring after learning the members had an average age of 18. Combine that originality and freshness with their ability to pull off amazing live shows across the world, their follow-up was sure to garner a lot of attention. Despite the fact that they had a member change and the naivete that simply comes with being as young as they are, fears are high that they will not be able to meet the demand of their growing audience. However, they continue to pull inspiration from their heritage, dedicating most of their tracks to both the Māori language and its rich history and certainly continue to grow in their second full-length outing.

That’s not to say the “Tangaroa” is a perfect album, but it certainly a strong one from ALIEN WEAPONRY, a band that is so young and hungry, there is no telling the heights that the band could reach. The album begins with the hypnotizing rhythms of “Titokowaru”, slow chanting opens the track before the barrage of guitar riffing begins. But it slides back and forth between slow and fast paced and makes for a bit of an odd opener as the next track “Hatupatu” hits hard and quick with pummeling riffs and doesn’t let up with a strong chorus melody, heavily layered Haka chanting and a groove that will be stuck in your head long after listening. Single and fan favorite “Ahi Ka” is a perfect showcase of the band and a poignant one as well, featuring a speech from Queen Elizabeth II during a trip to the band’s hometown of Aukland in which native people were removed from their villages to make way for her arrival. A rich political statement from the band. The title track – named after the Māori God of the seas – is yet another statement and warning to those who disrespect the seas. The one worry that I have is more of the English-speaking tracks sneaking into the album and the grittier production. I really enjoyed when the band embraced the unique vocal qualities of the Māori language and I hope they continue to embrace it but the grungier production didn’t really work out well for METALLICA and their “St. Anger” album and however slightly, it soured subsequent listens of “Tangaroa”.

Songwriting: 9
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 8
Production: 5

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Titokowaru
2. Hatupatu
3. Ahi Ka
4. Tangaroa
5. Unforgiving
6. Blinded
7. Kai Whatu
8. Crooked Monsters
9. Buried Underground
10. Dad
11. Ihenga
12. Down the Rabbit Hole
Lineup:
Henry de Jong – Drums & Backing Vocals
Lewis de Jong – Guitars & Lead Vocals
Tūranga Morgan-Edmonds – Bass & Backing Vocals
Record Label: Napalm Records
     


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