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Review: Alien Weaponry – Tangaroa

What happens when you combine indigenous Māori traditions, language and cultural tales with ferocious groove metal? You get the one and only Alien Weaponry, of course!

Hailed by Metal Hammer as the “future of metal”, the youngsters – frontman Lewis de Jong bassist Metal Hammer Morgan-Edmonds, and drummer Henry de Jong – have a lot to prove on their second album, Tangaroa. According to Māori and Polynesian mythology, Tangaroa is the God of the ocean, which is fitting considering the propulsive title track explores the topics of illegal fishing practices and the current climate crisis. The album as a whole aims to place indigenous voices front and centre, with equal appreciation shown to personal influences and cultural awareness. 

The most exciting aspects of Tangaroa appear in its lyrics and the band’s storytelling. Throughout the 12-track effort, the band make powerful calls for change, explore the story of a de Jong ancestor battling a witch (‘Hatupatu’), delve into the topic of drug addiction (‘Buried Underground’), and tell the story of a renowned war chief who challenged colonisers in New Zealand (‘Titokowaru’). Without these thematic backdrops, the album would be far less interesting. Truth be told, much of Tangaroa simply blends together, with no way to discern one track from the other without checking what song is playing. Even with the amalgamation of songs sung in te reo Maori and English, all the breakneck speed riffs and grooves, and Lewis’ vocal delivery, are just too similar throughout.

While this sense of familiarity certainly makes for a cohesive album, it also makes for a boring listen. We don’t want to be bored by Alien Weaponry – we want to feel moved! We want to get up and mosh, and most importantly, we want to connect. The music should follow the grandiosity of the storytelling, with the album moving through many disparate thematic threads – but alas, the predictable breakdowns wind up disappointing. There are great moments on Tangaroa, but we can’t begin to tell you where they appear.  

Tangaroa is out September 17th via Napalm Records
Click here to pre-order or pre-save it