Alien Weaponry are “one of the most exciting young metal bands in the world right now” according to Revolver Magazine in the USA. And they’re not the only ones who think so. Since well before they released their debut album Tū in 2018, fans, bloggers, the music industry and the media worldwide have raved about Alien Weaponry’s unique blend of thrash metal and Te Reo Māori (the native language of New Zealand).
Brothers Lewis de Jong (guitar and lead vocals) and Henry de Jong (drums) formed the band in 2010 when they were 8 and 10 years old. Ethan Trembath (bass guitar) joined in 2012 to complete the lineup; although he retired in 2020 after struggling with the extensive overseas touring schedule that he could see was “only going to get more intense as the band grows.” Trembath was replaced by Tūranga Morgan-Edmonds, a former schoolmate of the de Jong brothers.
The three-piece from Waipu, New Zealand, deliver emotionally and politically charged stories of conflict and grief with a warrior-like attitude. Drummer Henry de Jong says,
“Our musical style and messages have a lot of similarities with haka, which is often brutal, angry and about stories of great courage or loss.”
The de Jong brothers are of Ngati Pikiāo and Ngati Raukawa (Māori tribal) descent; and began their schooling at a kura kaupapa Māori (full immersion Māori language school), where singing waiata (songs) and performing haka were a daily routine. Also ingrained in their early learning were stories of New Zealand history told to them by their father, who, alongside the story telling, played them music from Metallica, Rage Against the Machine, Anthrax, Ministry, Red Hot Chili Peppers. It is this combination of music, language, history and socio-political commentary that underpins the band’s sound and ideas.
New bass player Tūranga Morgan-Edmonds is also of Māori descent, with Ngāti Rarua, Ngāti Wai and Ngāti Hine tribal affiliations.
In the past 2 years, Alien Weaponry have supported Slayer, Anthrax, Ministry and Black Label Society across Europe and North America, as well as opening for Prophets of Rage in Auckland, New Zealand. They have sold out headline shows in New Zealand, Australia, all over Europe, the USA and Canada; and played main stage sets to record crowds at some of the biggest and most prestigious festivals around the world. These include Wacken Open Air and Summer Breeze (Germany), Download UK and Bloodstock Open Air (UK), Hellfest (France), MetalDays (Slovenia), Download Sydney and Download Melbourne (Australia), Tuska Open Air (Finland) and Copenhell (Denmark), where an impressive crowd of 6,000+ Scandinavian fans welcomed the band to the festival stage with a pre-rehearsed haka.
In New Zealand, Alien Weaponry has won multiple awards, starting with their double win at Smokefreerockquest and Smokefree Pacifica Beats in 2016. In 2017, they won the APRA Maioha Award for their song ‘Raupatu;’ and were finalists in the APRA Silver Scroll Award (‘Urutaa’); the Waiata Māori Awards for Best Music Video (‘Rū Ana Te Whenua’); and the Vodafone NZ Music Awards for Best Māori Artist. In 2018, they were finalists in the Vodafone NZ Music Awards in six categories, taking home the Tui for Best Rock Artist, while the producers of Tū won the Best Producer award.
Following the release of their debut album Tū, Alien Weaponry’s single ‘Kai Tangata’ rocketed to no.1 on the prestigious ‘Devil’s Dozen’ countdown for the Liquid Metal show on New York-based Sirius XM, where it remained for 13 weeks. The video for ‘Kai Tangata’ was the ‘Most Added Metal Song’ for June 2018 on US Cable Channel Music Choice (delivering to 50 million households) and has had nearly 6 million views on YouTube since its release.
More recently, Alien Weaponry found their songs and album on countless ‘Best Of The Decade’ lists by various publishers and in December 2019 the readers of Finnish Magazine Tuonela voted ’Tū’ all the way to the top of their ’The Best Albums of the Decade’ list – with Gojira’s ’Magma’ and Tool’s ‘Fear Inoculum’ in at second and third respectively.
“The debut album sounds like a new breed of crossover, replacing speed by groove, but [still] remaining deeply rooted in the thrash metal scene,” said Tuonela Magazine of Tū.
Currently working on material for their sophomore album, 2020 is promising to turn into another groundbreaking year in the band’s career. Lewis de Jong says,
“We’re so excited to be returning to Europe and the UK for our third summer – we’ve always got such an awesome reception from fans there. We’re also massively looking forward to unleashing some sonic mayhem with our new album later this year.”
The band is managed internationally by Rick Sales Entertainment (also representing Slayer, Gojira, Mastodon and Ghost); and has a worldwide distribution deal with Napalm Records. They are represented by Pinnacle Entertainment (also representing Slayer, Alice Cooper, Rob Zombie and Noel Gallagher) in North America and UK-based K2 touring agency (also representing Metallica, Iron Maiden, Mastodon, Ghost and Gojira) in the rest of the world.