19 Feb 2020
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Alien Weaponry - Gig Review: Alien Weaponry @ Studio, Auckland - 23/03/2019

28 Mar 2019 // A review by Steve Shyu

Just a few days ago, my brother asked "What's Alien Weaponry?", and I was happy to oblige and catch him up on one of the most talked-about bands in New Zealand music.

The three boys were all raised in Waipu, and the two brothers Lewis and Henry de Jong started jamming together since they were 8 and 10. Having a Maori family background helped inspire their musical direction and writing, and with the addition of Ethan Trembath on bass guitar, the line-up was complete. After taking out top spots at the national Rockquest in 2016, the band won funding to produce music videos, and eventually signing with a German agency and Nuclear Blast records.

Since then, it’s been nothing short of a rollercoaster ride for Alien Weaponry, playing across Europe and at various music festivals both in the northern and southern hemisphere.

The first time I saw Alien Weaponry perform was at the Vodafone New Zealand Music Awards, where among the seated sea of suits and cocktail dresses, these boys were windmilling and playing heavy metal. I was instantly converted. Fast-forward to 2019, and the band has returned to home soil after conquering Australia, and it was high time I got to see up close what these lads are capable of.

First to unleash their metal grooves is Seas of Conflict, the Hamilton quartet that specialises in metalcore loaded with melodic choruses. The night had only just started and already an energised gathering had formed in front of the stage. No doubt there’ll be plenty of moshing ahead!

Frontman Kody brought with him great presence, changing from harsh vocals to clean singing with ease, and working up the crowd, hopping left and right of the stage. Meanwhile, guitarist Declan and bass player Alex were steady at attention, focused on their duty of dishing out sinister, jagged riffs, often with an off-beat touch of “djent”, as the cool kids call it these days. The usual drummer Nic was absent, presumably fulfilling rhythm duties at Wellington Homegrown with Devilskin; his stand-in, Blake, took over effortlessly, having already nailed down several tour dates prior to Auckland.

To ensure audience’s neck muscles were sufficiently warmed up for the next act, Seas of Conflict concluded with their newest single Monachopsis, a powerful booming piece of metalcore which breaks away into a haunting middle passage with clean vocals and reverberating guitars, then cutting into a fun, crushing end, certified headbang-worthy.

Their first time performing in Auckland, Melbournian four-piece Copia seemed determined to make an impression. Bearing even more power and groove than the opening group, Copia smashed through their highly entertaining seven-song set.

Rhythm man Chris pumped out plenty of hard-hitting double bass drum sections, whilst guitarist Glenn with the bison-sized biceps and five-stringer bassist Bobby heaped on meaty metal riffs, at times boasting a nu-metal bounce, but with no sacrifice to technicality or intricacies, particularly in the song “Hostility”. Main vocalist and frontman Andrew lead the way, in much the same way Seas of Conflict did, interchanging with ease between the striking and melodic to the disturbingly guttural. Special mention must go to the drummer, who added creative flairs to the beats, carrying the song between passages of verses, choruses and breakdowns.

“Do you guys want HEAVY?”, the frontman yelled, to which the audience responded with ecstatic approval. Clearly, thus far, the band had done a lot of things right. At the song Karma was when the crowd was truly won over. The fast-paced verses whipped people into a frenzy, and in truly showcasing the lead vocalist’s versatility, the band leader’s yells, clean singing and growls captured attention and drove the show through.

Following a heartfelt sing-along ending, the band vowed to return to New Zealand, leaving a crowd applauding for more, myself included. This is one band I’ll personally be looking out for in future.

After making sure their gear was set up, the teenage trio emerged exchanged readying nods, the stage lights dimmed, and Alien Weaponry kicked into action. The groove-heavy PC Bro set the pace of the remainder of the evening quite nicely, brimming with youthful passion and energy, pounding drums and sludgy, heaving basslines.

The first half of the performance appears to feature mostly songs with the most English lyrics, but were welcomed by the audience all the same, from Holding My Breath, Rage to Hypocrite. The boys delivered on home turf what they’ve been doing over the past two years, grinding out a new recipe of heavy metal for the northern hemisphere to savour. Over pounding, powerful rhythms from Henry de Jong were the raw, howling vocals of his brother, Lewis, and the playful on-stage mannerisms of bass player and backing vocalist, Ethan Trembath.

Halfway through the performance, the crowd surged to a chant of “Waipu! Waipu!”, honouring the lads’ hometown up north, to which the band responded gleefully, “Fuck yeah, Auckland!”. Good ol’ Aotearoa. It’s like they grew up just a street away; it’s times like these we realise how closely linked we all are.

As the set progressed, more te reo and Maori themes emerged. To my delight, the largely-instrumental piece Te Ara was brought out, which Lewis introduced as a piece about the initial migration of Maori to Aotearoa. The rhythm of the piece sways and undulates, as though in time with ocean waves, providing fantastic imagery for the topic. There was indication many in the audience had spent time familiarising themselves with the band’s te reo lyrics, as many called out in time with verses, as well as the cries of “Urutaa” throughout the choruses.

Some would argue whether a metal show is truly a metal show without a circle pit or a wall of death, and sure enough, those who were most keen to get ruckus certainly got their moment to let loose, as Kai Tangata ripped and roared to an epic ending of the set.

It felt a little odd that, considering the journey these boys have been on over the past few years, they made no mention of their time away, nor acknowledged much of finally performing a show in Aotearoa again, especially since the opening acts regularly interacted with the crowd. Granted, this is not mandatory for any band in their position, and of course, kiwis being kiwis, we're generally humble in nature (sometimes to a fault). However, for fans, a little show of appreciation can go a long, long way.

The band had barely left the stage, and the audience had already started the encore for them. A large throng of fans font and centre started gleefully chanting the intro cries of Ru Ana te Whenua, to the amusement of many - And it’s terrific to see. Te reo Maori lives!

Without keeping the crowd waiting, the trio re-emerged with their instruments, briefly thanked the Auckland audience and capped off the evening with their single Raupatu, and of course, their global favourite, Ru Ana te Whenua. With the final song, the mosh pit heaved and surged even more than before.

With the stomping of fans and the deeply rhythmic heavy metal riffs, a thought popped up in my mind: It’s as though these were the aftershocks to Alien Weaponry’s "Rumbling Earth Tour" of 2017, or perhaps the quakes had never ceased at all, and that their efforts will continue to be heard and witnessed across the globe. The three lads have come a long way, and I, for one, certainly hope they continue to proudly take their roots to as many cities as possible. Tumeke!

 

About Alien Weaponry

Alien Weaponry is a three-piece metal band whose style has been influenced by old school thrash and hardcore

AW was formed in 2010 by brothers Henry and Lewis de Jong, who have been listening to bands like Metallica, Anthrax and Pantera since birth; and started jamming and writing songs before they learnt the alphabet. Current influences include Lamb Of God, Tryvium, Subtract and System of a Down, but the band has developed its own distinctive thrash metal sound, destined to endure into future centuries.

Not content to rely on the shock value of their extreme youth, the group understands the value of professionalism, and works crowds to a frenzy with their tight, thrashy energy and wild stage performances. Their plans for world domination include playing at Wacken in Germany and touring the big international metal festivals. They refuse to play covers, and have enough material to begin recording their first album later this year.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Alien Weaponry

Releases


Year: 2018
Type: Album

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