1000 Albums Project

ALBUM 141

Tu, by Alien Weaponry
Suggested by Stuart Pullin

Laurence Steven Lowry, the famous Lancastrian painter, was born in Stretford in 1887. His iconic artwork depicts scenes of life in the industrial districts of North West England in the mid-20th century. Stylistically, he’s been labelled naïve, a “Sunday painter”, with rudimentary landscapes and the world-famous “matchstick men.” A selection oh his works are displayed in The Lowry, a purpose-build gallery on the Salford Quays.

Alien Weaponry are a three-piece thrash unit out of Auckland. Formed in 2010 by a pair of brothers, aged TEN and EIGHT respectively, they won a New Zealand High School Band competition in 2015, were named in Metal Hammer’s 2016 list of New Zealand Metal Acts, and toured Europe / North America in 2018 / 2019 before finishing their high school exams.

Seriously. Ten and eight. I own underpants older than them.

I was rather surprised to read that a band of precocious metalheads based in New Zealand had a particular fondness for Salford’s finest artistic export, but I guess that’s the beauty of art. It cares not for distances or age gaps. It’s timeless, after all.

Tu is Alien Weaponry’s first studio album, after a slew of EP releases probably recorded in their school music room. Over eleven thrashing tracks, the boys show a composure and sophistication that belies their relative youth. There’s an energy here, a rawness, exacerbated by the distortion effects that can sometimes overload. The songs have an urban, smokestack feel, not dissimilar to Lowry’s landscapes of toil at the gates of northern industry.

Vocally, lead singer / guitarist Lewis de Jong has a perfectly passable metal voice, but the band truly shine when they deal in songs of their indigenous heritage. Many tracks utilise New Zealand’s native tongue to spectacular effect, and the language of the Haka seamlessly pairs with Heavy Metal as if it were destined to be. My favourite song, the mesmeric Ru Ana te Wenua, sits firmly in this camp.

Lyrically, the band aren’t afraid to tackle political causes, highlighting the realities of their people. It seems they have youth, talent, and a social conscience. Lowry himself was also a man with a personal political creed, and he famously turned down many a royal honour to retain his common touch. He’d be proud of his boys, for sure.

I give Tu a creditable 7/10. It’s a little dirtier than the thrash I truly like, but the songs written in the band’s indigenous tongue are very special. Just like the matchstick men they love, painted all those years ago, Alien Weaponry are diamonds in the rough with a certain naïve charm.

… … … What’s that?

What do you mean, “they don’t like Lowry?” … it says they do right here!

*checks notes*

Huh.

They’re a Maori band.

Not a Lowry band.

… … … Yeah, that explains a lot.

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