From left, Lewis de Jong, Turanga Morgan-Edmonds, Ethan Trembath, Henry de Jong - Source / File
Reo Māori metal band Alien Weaponry has a new addition - Turanga Porowini Morgan-Edmonds.
After returning to their Waipū home from a long European tour earlier in the year, Ethan Trembath decided to hang up his bass guitar.
"I made the decision that I needed to leave Alien Weaponry," Ethan Trembath says.
"Mostly for my personal sanity, and keeping myself healthy in those areas."
Trembath says he also wanted to be closer to his makau (partner) and his whānau.
Alien Weaponry announce Etham Trembath's departure - Source / Facebook
Turanga Porowini Morgan-Edmonds went to school with the boys, having played with drummer Henry de Jong in high school. After running auditions, Morgan-Edmonds stood out.
"He played really well, and we really liked the performance he put on for us," Trembath says.
"Super excited just to have the opportunity to work with the boys," Morgan-Edmonds says.
Reo and Metal
Guitarist Lewis de Jong says they started writing in te reo, to try something different.
"We honestly had no idea what would come in the future from that," Lewis de Jong says.
"We're all blown away by how positive the reaction was."
The boys draw on their ancestors as the inspiration for their music. Their third single, Rū ana te Whenua, dedicated to their ancestor Te Ahoaho, who died at the Battle of Pukehinahina (Gate Pā) in Tauranga, in 1864.
Kai Tangata is dedicated to their Ngāti Pikiao ancestors. They died during the musket wars when Ngāpuhi war chief Hongi Hika raided Te Arawa country.
It hasn't been easy for de Jong brothers Henry and Lewis. Their appearance makes many presume they are not Māori. Some even accused them of cultural appropriation, seeing their unique music as offensive.
But now their place as reo ambassadors is undisputed. The boys have featured on VICE, and their debut album Tū was named album of the decade in Finland. On their recent performance at Copenhell, in Denmark, they had 6,000 metalheads performing a haka.
Reaction from NZ metal community
Shepherds Reign mihi to their brothers in metal - Source / Facebook
South Auckland metal band Shepherds Reign sent their regards via Facebook yesterday.
Like Alien Weaponry, the international metal community have embraced Shepherds Reign. Headbangers use terms like 'haka metal', 'Samoan Island metal' and even 'Maui metal' to describe their music. The Shepherds supported the boys from Waipū during their Fringe Festival appearance in February.
The band have two Samoan, two Māori and a Chinese Thai in their ranks, and they too have suffered cases of mistaken identity like Alien Weaponry.
But they've taken it all in their stride, and like the Aliens, they're using Covid downtime to work on their second album.
The future of Alien Weaponry
Lewis de Jong says the coronavirus has stalled many of their plans. But it hasn't stopped them from working on their second album, which they hope to release in the new year.
Kai Tangata, features on Werewolf: The Apocalypse Wolfblood, a video game title due for release February 2021.