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Shepherds Reign - Single Review: Ua Masa’a

23 Mar 2023 // A review by Kev Rowland

When it comes to different cultures and music there is no doubt we are incredibly blessed in Aotearoa, and surely anyone into metal, wherever they are in the world, are aware of Alien Weaponry and the way they blend groove metal and their Maori roots. However, what may not be known by those outside New Zealand is that there is another band down here who are also making huge waves in their own country, Shepherds Reign. I have already lost count of how many times I have seen these guys play, but it is never enough, as they take metal to a whole new level (and not only have a singer with the biggest hair I have ever seen, but he also plays keytar and pate!).

Hailing from South Auckland and Polynesian by birth and blood, Filiva’a James (vocals/keytar/pate), Gideon Voon (guitar), Oliver Leupolu (guitar/production), Shaymen Rameka (drums) and Joseph Oti-George (bass) are mixing their Samoan roots with music which makes for an incredible visual and aural experience. Musically Ua Masa’a is full of twists and turns, always with the brutal rhythm section one has come to expect where Shaymen and Joseph provide complexity and raw power to set the foundation for the twin guitar of Oliver and Gideon who can often be found on either side of the stage crunching the riffs or blending their threads together. Then there is Fili, the man monster who is always in total control, lifting himself above the music by sheer force of will, powerful and almost bestial in his approach.

Many people (including me) will not be able to understand the lyrics as they are in Samoan, which is common with these guys, but they tell a dramatic story, of how Filiva’a’s sister was murdered by her spouse and his family. Needless to say, this is raw and full of anger as Filiva’a voices the thoughts his sister would have felt prior to her death. “Ua masa’a le ipu vai” is translated to “The cup has spilt”, a symbolic look at the love once shared, lost like water in a broken cup. Shepherds Reign have been one of my favourite NZ metal bands for years now, and I look forward not only to the next time I see them play, but to the album which should hopefully be out later this year. If you have not come across these guys before now, then here is the place to start. Uncompromising metal being taken in quite different directions.

Rating: ( 5 / 5 )

About Shepherds Reign

Shepherds Reign bring their house to your ears, mind and heart. Their power and passion is unequivocal, their musical voices luminescent and majestic. They do not simply hit the stage to perform their songs. Their vocation is to present all aspects of their lives and culture, and there is a special passion and raw power in every word and note they seek to share with the world.

Hailing from South Auckland, New Zealand, and Polynesian by birth and blood, Filiva'a James (vocals/keytar), Gideon Voon (guitar), Oliver Leupolu (guitar/production), Shaymen Rameka (drums) and Joseph Oti-George (bass) are not messing around. Shepherds Reign is their life. Literally.

The band was co-founded by Filiva’a, Oliver and Shaymen. Filiva’a spent much of his childhood fighting on the streets of Mangere. He flipped that to become a correctional officer. Now he is chasing his dream of becoming a rock star. Says Fili, “As a baby, my parents and older siblings said I couldn’t sleep without music playing. Growing up with a big island family, everyone had their own taste in music. I grew to love them all. Bands like ABBA, UB40, Tiama'a, Jim Reeves, etc. My love for rock started when I first saw November Rain by Guns N' Roses at about 5 years old. Then I saw Slash with his guitar, and my mind was set”.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Shepherds Reign


Ala Mai
Year: 2023
Type: Album
Shepherds Reign
Year: 2018
Type: Album

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