Alien Weaponry arrive at The Underworld in Camden as a stop on a pretty huge European tour that involved them play at Download Festival just the night before.
If you listen to rock or metal of any style, you will have heard of Alien Weaponry. The young New Zealand Te Reo metal band have been making huge waves due to their hard hitting, energetic thrash metal. Mixed with sincere and emotive topics related to Maori culture and struggles. We at GBHBL heard the hype and tried to hold back from it. Tried to avoid being caught up in it so we could make our own minds up. Well bring forth the Alien Weaponry slot at Bloodstock Festival 2018. Any doubts we had were washed away in 40 minutes of pure, brilliant metal. The hype is real. These guys are amazing and one of the highlights of the whole festival.
Almost a year down the line and Alien Weaponry have gone from strength to strength. Still revelling in the brilliance of their debut album, Tū, the band have toured it extensively. More recently we had a taste of new music from Alien Weaponry with the single Ahi Kã. Another great song that we scored highly. A fine example of their growth is their invitation to play at Donnington Park’s Download festival this year too.
So, here we are in Camden. It is a grey but dry Sunday evening, with Download Festival still ongoing. Something that can hinder a gig’s attendance and with doors changed from an 18:00 open time to 19:00 in the run up to the day, you wonder just how many people will turn out to catch the band. Arriving in the area though, you quickly get the feeling that this is going to be a packed show. There are plenty of bodies knocking about in around the vicinity with a huge amount of Alien Weaponry shirts on show.
Inside, the venue is already very busy. We arrive to catch the supporting band, Road Mutant’s last 3 or 4 tracks and they impressed. The perfect band to accompany Alien Weaponry, they had a huge amount of energy. The band threw themselves about on stage and had the crowd worked into a frenzy with a decent pit going. Their songs were fast and hard hitting thrash though with an element of groove. It worked a treat. Very impressive and you can find out more about them from here.
There was along gap between sets with the switchover taking around 30 to 35 minutes. Enough time to grab a beer, wait, drink it and then go grab another. As 21:00 approached you could see and feel the venue packing out and excitement rippling through the crowd. The lights dimmed and the band members take to the stage, one at a time. Starting with drummer Henry de Jong who stands behind his kit, bellowing out vocals in Maori and then by bassist, Ethan Trembath and guitarist and vocalist, Lewis de Jong. The crowd are raucous in their appreciation and the band look absolutely thrilled and pumped to be there.
What follows was around 70 minutes of absolute fire. Banging track after banging track, all played out with a massive amount of energy and enthusiasm. A willing crowd that moshed hard, circle pitted constantly and formed at least 3 walls of death. Knowing it was going to be busy, and with no real barrier, each side of the stage had a couple burly security guards poised. Ready to scoop fans off of the stage as crowd surfing took over. They would roll on to the stage, dive straight back into the crowd again and the band were loving it. Especially bassist Ethan Trembath who seemed to be having a fantastic time, constantly smiling, patting the stage invaders on the back and patrolling the stage like a man possessed.
They kicked things off straight away with PC Bro, followed up immediately with Holding My Breath. It took literally a couple notes on the guitar for the whole floor to explode into life and the sing backs on Holding My Breath were near deafening. The excellent, Rage – It Takes Over Again goes down a storm and 3 songs in, you just can’t help being blown away by the sheer quality of the music and the adoration of the fans in attendance. Te Ara follows this one, ensuring the frenetic pace and energy doesn’t waiver for even a second.
The band talk a little to the crowd between songs, generally to show appreciation and there were some funny interactions. They mentioned how they were at Download and watched 100,000 people singing to Slipknot. Someone shouted, “you’re better than Slipknot”. It got a laugh from the crowd and band and started off a huge roar of appreciation for the band. Frontman Lewis responded by saying that we were wrong, but thanks for saying it though. As always, a response to one member of the crowd suddenly gave everyone the impression they should all fill any quiet spots with their own stupid call outs. Thankfully the music came back and people soon went back to enjoying it instead of trying to be the centre of attention.
Lewis dedicates the next song to a teacher he had and then introduces Hypocrite. A severely heavy song that sees the crowd form a wall of death and explode into aggressive pitting. Urutaa, Nobody Here and The Things That You Know come next keeping the vicious whirling fire going. Urutaa sees the whole floor jumping in unison while The Underworld’s centre column becomes the centre for an ever growing circle pit. They are all good pits though. No thrown drinks and no fly kicking dickheads. It was hard, heavy and aggressive but in the best possible way.
As amazing a show as it has been so far, the next two songs really elevate both the crowd and the band to a greater level. Starting off with the new single, Ahi Kã. What a live song this is. I enjoyed it as a single but this is a 10/10 live. Lewis’ guitar work is exceptional here. It is followed immediately by the song everyone has been waiting for. The amazing Kai Tangata. It was amazing and sounds so good live. An absolute anthem. The tiring band do struggle to hit the higher notes of the chorus, as heard on the record, but not by much. They encourage the crowd to sing the chorus with them which is equally amazing and funny.
Amazing because we sung it back with enthusiasm and aplomb. Funny because I doubt anyone there really spoke Maori so what we were all actually doing was making noises that probably sounded nothing like Maori. A breathless crowd could have left there happy but we still have 3 more tracks starting with Whispers. A slightly slower, groove track that gives everyone a tiny bit of a breather before a huge double headed ending designed to finish us off. First up is Raupatu before another crowd favourite, Rū Ana Te Whenua gets played. The Maori chant at the beginning is intense and impressive to watch before we get treated to a final few minutes of bone shuddering riffs and pitting.
Alien Weaponry were absolutely phenomenal again. Their unique style of thrash, mixing in the Maori elements, is mesmerising. The band’s energy, charisma and enthusiasm is infectious. Mostly though, the music is just damn good. Compared to the Bloodstock performance, almost a year ago, you can see the growth in the band. Mostly in their confidence levels. They were amazing at Bloodstock but also had endearing moments of inexperience. Like when they weren’t sure whether they were allowed to play another track at the end. Watching them now, they look like masters of the stage. They look confident and experienced, prowling the stage like they own it, interacting with the crowd and whipping them up into a frenzy.
Imagine how good these guys will be in another year? They are an absolutely must see band in heavy metal today. You don’t want to miss out.
Alien Weaponry at The Underworld (16/06/2019)
- The Final Score - 9.5/109.5/10