Alien Weaponry has certainly kept things heavy since blasting out of Waipu, New Zealand, some five years ago. Now, the group takes on a heavy, dark episode in its homeland’s history with “Ahi Ka,” its contribution to new Adult Swim compilation Metal Swim 2 that’s premiering today on Billboard.
“Ahi Ka” was inspired by the Auckland city council’s decision to burn down what is considered to be the unsightly indigenous Maori village of Okahu Bay in advance of Queen Elizabeth II’s 1953 visit. The eviction sparked a 40-year battle for the native Ngati Whatua to reclaim their land, including protests and battles with the police. Amid worldwide criticism, a small portion of the original land was ultimately returned with an apology and some compensation.
“We decided to write about it because it’s one of these untold stories in New Zealand history that really had a great impact on a lot of Maori,” guitarist Lewis de Jong tells Billboard about the song. His older brother, drummer Henry de Jong, adds, “For us, it’s something we felt needed to be brought to light more than it was. Me and Lewis are big fans of Adult Swim and all the shows. We thought this would be good for their compilation.”
“If you really look into it, it’s also a commentary on what’s happening in the world, too,” Jong cintinues. “That’s happening to people all over the world still. I can’t understand it.”
Listen to “Ahi Ka” below:
Adult Swim writer/producer Laura Sterritt approached Alien Weaponry to participate in Metal Swim 2, which arrives May 3. The streaming-only compilation features tracks from bands including Eyehategod, Baroness, Sunn O))) and Nervosa. “Ahi Ka” also serves as a between-albums teaser for the teenage trio, who hit No. 1 in New Zealand with their 2018 debut album, Tu.
The set (like the new single) is sung in New Zealand’s Te Reo Maori language, and features songs about British rule over the Maori (“Raupatu”), one of the de Jongs’ freedom-fighter ancestors (“Ru Ana Te Whenua”), ancient Maori warrior customs (“Kai Tangata”) and the country’s current political climate (“Holding My Breath”) that showcase a muscular blend of blazing guitar and a thundering rhythm section.
Alien Weaponry will also be releasing a video for “Ahi Ka,” featuring footage that was shot while recording the song. It comes in advance of the act’s upcoming North American tour, their first as a headliner after previously supporting industrial veterans Ministry. The trek, which is promoting Tu, will begin May 4 in Mexico City. Alien Weaponry also has been rehearsing in the studio and working on new material, as well as filming a video for another upcoming track called “Don’t.”
“This whole month we’re doing songwriting and recording,” reports Henry. “I think we’ve all been blown away by the response we’ve had. It’s so much more than we ever could have expected as a tiny little New Zealand band.”
“It’s made us excited to do more,” adds Lewis. “We’re just hoping that the second album can be even better.”
Alien Weaponry tour dates:
May 4 Mexico City@Domination Festival*
May 6 Dallas@Cambridge Room@House of Blues
May 7 Houston@Bronze Peacock Room@House of Blues
May 8 Austin@3TEN@Austin City Limits Live
May 11 Rockingham, N.C.@Epicenter Festival*
May 12 Washington, D.C.@DC9
May 13 Boston@The Middle East Restaurant and Nightclub
May 15 New York, N.Y.@Saint Vitus Bar
May 16 Montreal@L’Esco
May 17 Toronto@Velvet Underground
May 19 Chicago@Chicago Open Air*
May 22 Minneapolis@First Avenue & 7th St. Entry
May 24 Pryor, Okla.@Rocklahoma*
May 26 Denver@Bluebird Theater
May 28 San Francisco@Bottom of the Hill
May 29 Los Angeles@The Roxy Theatre
*: Festival date