“In 1820, the great Northern War Chief Hongi Hika departed New Zealand for England. On his return, he brought with him the word of God and hundreds of muskets. Things would never be the same again …”
… so begins the video for Alien Weaponry’s new single, ‘Kai Tangata’.
The title literally translates to ‘Eat People’; and refers to the ancient Māori tradition of eating the flesh of their enemies after battle in order to insult them. It is also an ancient term for a war party.
In their epic 7-minute song, the thrash metal trio recreates the memory of the early 19th Century musket wars, where Ngapuhi (Northern) tribes, newly armed with muskets, attacked and decimated the de Jong brothers’ Te Arawa (Central North Island) ancestors, who at that time were still using traditional weaponry.
Watch ‘Kai Tangata’ right HERE!
The driving riff that carries the song echoes the pounding footsteps of the war party, while the chorus traces the parts of the full body moko (tattoo) traditionally worn by Māori warriors. The images are of brutal hand-to-hand combat and the taking of slaves, with flashes of white teeth reminding us of the eventual fate of those unfortunate captives.
“Some people might find it a bit grisly,” says singer and lead guitarist Lewis de Jong. “But it’s stuff that actually happened and nobody ever talks about it. We’re not saying it’s right or wrong, it’s just a part of our history.”
The song refers to ‘nga tohu a Tūmatauenga’ (the symbols of Tūmatauenga – the Māori god of war), and it is from this deity that the band’s debut album, "Tū", takes its name.
“Quite a few of the songs on the album are about battles or conflict,” says drummer Henry de Jong, who was largely responsible for the lyrics of Kai Tangata. “So we thought it was appropriate to name the album after Tūmatauenga. Tū also means to stand strong and proud, to stand for something; which we think is important as a band and as people.”
The video has special significance for the band due to the locations and people involved. Parts of the clip were filmed at the Waipu Caves, not far from where the band members live. The rest was filmed in the de Jong brothers’ Te Arawa tribal territory; and many of the people featured – including the kapa haka group Te Matarae i Orehu – are members of their Ngati Pikiao whanau (family) and their wider Te Arawa iwi (tribe).
ALIEN WEAPONRY - LIVE 2018:
22.-28.07.18 SV - Tolmin / Metal Days Festival
02.-04.08.18 DE - Wacken / Wacken Festival
09.08.18 UK - Walton-on-Trent / Bloodstock Open Air
01.09.18 DE - Hamburg / Welt-Turbojugend Tage
More Dates Coming Soon!
ALIEN WEAPONRY is:
Lewis De Jong – Vocals, Guitars
Henry De Jong – Drums
Ethan Trembath – Bass
New Zealand’s rising musical stars and teenage thrash metal band Alien Weaponry have signed a worldwide deal with Napalm Records! With such an impressive career that started five years ago when the band members were just 10 and 12 years old and this unique combination of thrash metal and Māori cultural background, Napalm Records is excited to welcome Alien Weaponry to their eclectic artist roster:
"Napalm Records is proud to announce the signing of the thrash metal band Alien Weaponry from New Zealand“ says Sebastian Muench, A&R of Napalm Records. "Besides the fact that they are the youngest musicians we ever added to the Napalm band roster they are also one of the most exciting and unique bands in recent years. Their combination of old school thrash metal and Māori culture elements and language creates intense and energetic songs that should be highly attractive to all true genre fans especially those stopped listening to the Sepultura after the „Roots“ album. Kia Ora Alien Weaponry and welcome to the Napalm family!“
The band comments: "Napalm is a great label for us to work with because their whakapapa (genealogy) includes a lot of thrash metal, which is where our roots are. So we fit within their whanau (family), but we're also doing something different, introducing our own language and style. For these reasons, we think we will both grow and benefit from this relationship. "Being based in the tiny town of Waipu, New Zealand, we are pretty much as far away as you can get from the heavy metal centre of the world (which to us is Wacken, Germany), so this is a massive step for us towards establishing our career internationally.“
The trio shocks and surprises audiences on a number of levels. Alien Weaponry's songwriting is complex, developed and highly political. Their live performance energy is startling, with just two fifteen-year old's commanding the front of stage as effectively as four- and five-piece bands three times their age. But perhaps most surprising of all, given their blonde flailing locks and Viking appearance, many of their songs are in New Zealand’s native language, Te Reo Māori. In fact, guitarist/lead singer Lewis de Jong (15) and his brother, drummer Henry (17), are of Ngati Pikiāo and Ngati Raukawa descent – they call themselves ‘Stealth Māori.’ They attended a full immersion kura kaupapa Māori (Māori language school) until they were seven years old, where singing waiata and performing haka were a daily routine. Also ingrained in their early learning were stories of New Zealand history from a Māori perspective. In September 2017, they won the prestigious APRA Maioha award for their song ‘Raupatu’ – a thrash metal commentary on the 1863 act of parliament that allowed the colonial government to confiscate vast areas of land from the indigenous Māori people. On 16 November, they took their places among NZ’s musical elite as nominees at the Vodafone New Zealand Music Awards.
The combination of thrash metal with Māori history and language has proved popular. Their latest music video for Rū Ana Te Whenua has more than a million YouTube and Facebook views, spent 2 weeks at no. 1 on Spotify’s NZ Viral chart, and hit no. 2 on the iTunes global metal chart (just behind Iron Maiden’s ‘Run to the Hills’). The band’s music has been play-listed on stations in New Zealand and around the world – from Scotland to Brazil, as well as the USA, Australia and Germany.
Alien Weaponry's English material is equally controversial, calling out everyone from teachers and friends at school to the media for variously glorifying and destroying the lives of television and sports stars. “We listened to all sorts of music when we were younger,” says lead singer and guitarist Lewis de Jong, “but we were drawn to thrash metal because it’s quite complex music, and it is a great vehicle for expressing real stories and emotions.” “It also works with Te Reo Māori,” adds drummer Henry. “Both the musical style and the messages have a lot of similarities with haka, which is often brutal, angry and about stories of great courage or loss.”
But it’s not just the metal community who are taking notice. London-based youth culture and fashion institution i-D ran a piece on the band in September 2017. More recently, Alien Weaponry featured in a story entitled ‘Can a Thrash Metal Band help save the Maori Language?’ published in the respected New York political and cultural journal, The Atlantic. In New Zealand, they have appeared on everything from Kids’ TV shows Pukana! and Sticky TV to late night political comedy panel 7 Days. “These guys could be bigger than Lorde in terms of our musical export,” says TV One Breakfast music correspondent Sarah Gandy. “They believe in their identity as a metal band, their use of Te Reo is impressive, there’s really nothing else like this in the world at the moment,” agrees Jeff Newton from NZ On Air.
Napalm Records is proud to welcome Alien Weaponry to their roster, more exciting news and album details about the band's upcoming record, set to be released for mid of 2018, will follow soon!
Alien Weaponry live:
17.02.18 NZ - Wellington / Pao Pao Pao
03.03.18 NZ - Auckland / Auckland City Limits Festival
22. - 28.07.18 SLO - Tomlin / Metal Days Festival
02. - 04.08.18 DE - Wacken / Wacken Festival
01.09.18 DE - Hamburg / Welt-Turbojugend Tage
More dates for 2018 to be added shortly.
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