The tag of unique is thrown around far too easily not just in music but in all areas of our lives. But in South Auckland’s Shepherds Reign we think we’ve found a band that absolutely fits that moniker.
A metal band of formed of Polynesians, for starters, is pretty unusual – in fact, the band tell us this has only ever happened once before through Boo Yah Tribe. But there’s more, as Shepherds Reign embrace their Polynesian roots with the addition of a traditional log drum called a Pātē, which adds whole new dimensions on top of their seriously heavy riffing and melodic, atmospheric metal sound.
The band sent us Legend (Resurrected), a re-work of a track on last year’s debut album, to have a listen to. And it might well be one of the best-crafted, diverse and most enjoyable songs we’ve listening to since starting the site. It’s a bit of an epic, so bear with us.
It opens up with a synthy noise then drops into meandering keyboard over the band’s trademark drums Pacific log drums (pātē), which continues under a really cool guitar solo – creating an intense opening to the track. Big guitar chords come in and drop into a cool fast-paced riff that you can’t help but bounce along to, and continues under an opening verse led by the engaging opening vocals of Filivaa James “Let me tell you about someone I know of, Tough as hell and afraid of no-one else, Doesn’t say much but his face shows it all, No expression despite the pain he’s in.”
That feeds into a big singalong chorus “Body solid as rock, Walks around all staunch, Skin made of leather, Presence felt by all, Never backs from a fight, Head held up high, He is a legend filled with might” supported by atmospheric keyboards. The chugging riff returns and feeds into a second verse “Always wanted to be so much like him, Always ready to take on what life brings, All the struggle that go his way, He just spits on it so fuck it I’m following him.”
Cries of “He is a legend” drop into a more atmospheric post-chorus with cool guitar licks, then drops into low-tuned guitars and pātē, that end on a big scream and chugging guitars. Big rapped vocals suddenly jump in, and drop into a screeching guitar solo, which then feeds into one final blast of the awesome chorus before ending on heavy guitars and pātē. Wow, this track is huge. Give it a listen below:
The remake of Legend is the first music released since the band’s debut, self-titled album, from which we also particularly love the sound of penultimate track Angel in Black. It opens with a little riff then heavy guitars and a huge scream give way to a high-pitched lick and big drums that drop into a lively opening verse.
A huge piercing guitar solo kicks in and drops into a big singalong chorus, then little flurries of guitar creep in before building up to another chorus. That drops into a little chugging bassline before a high-pitched guitar tremolo jumps in under heavy vocals, which are soon countered by booming riffs. The pace suddenly drops right down with light vocals and bass, then repeats of “You’ve got my nerves going crazy, Lets rock’n’roll tonight” building up to an epic ending of heavy guitars and drums under a high-pitched guitar lick. Check it out in the video below:
In fact, the whole album is superb – with big riffs, engaging vocals and their trademark sound delighting track after track. But another personal favourite is the hard-hitting Concrete Walls, which opens up with pretty epic fast-paced dual guitars that drop into doomy drums, then rolling guitars and drums before a low bassline feeds into a huge opening verse.
That impressive opening is followed by melodic choruses and a huge energetic ending. Give it a listen in the video below:
We had a chat with the band to find out a little more. Read on below…
GR: Who are Shepherds Reign?
SR: “We are a five-piece metal band from South Auckland, New Zealand. We are Filivaa James (vocals, keys and log drums/pātē), Shaymen Rameka (drums and log drums/pātē), Oliver Leupolu (guitars and production), Gideon Voon (guitars) and Joseph Oti-George (bass). We come from a range of ethnic backgrounds which are Samoan, Maori, Chinese, Thai, and European.
“Basically, we met through high school and university. Shaymen and Oliver attended the same high school (Otahuhu College). Filivaa and Oliver through Auckland University, who then met Gideon at Music and Audio Institute of NZ. The newest member Joseph has joined the band fresh out of Manurewa High School. where Oliver teaches.”
GR: You just released Legend (Resurrected). What should people be expecting from the song?
SR: “This song was written years ago as a means of showing respect to our fathers. Letting them know that the path that they have paved hasn’t gone unnoticed and we are grateful. As we know, not everyone has a Father figure in their life so this led us to dedicating the song to anyone you personally idolise or look up to – a personal role model or anyone that has helped you through your troubled times. And with that, expect to hear some hard-hitting riffs, some gruff melodic and harmonic vocals and just a roller coaster of emotions.”
GR: How would you describe your sound to people that haven’t listened to you yet?
SR: “There is no band like ours. As a band made of Polynesians, this isn’t what our people normally listen to. Polynesia and Metal have only met once before thanks to the brothers in Boo Yah Tribe. So we’ve taken it to the next stage by adding a traditional Polynesian instrument called Pātē (log drums). This adds a haunting effect on our songs. With the Pātē added on to some very heavy riffs and rough vocals, we add a bit of piano in our sound to add atmosphere and to help push our harmonies out to the audience.”
GR: What influences you to write music? Any key themes or topics that you write about?
SR: “Lyrically would be personal experiences or experiences that friends and loved ones go through. This actually makes it easy to write. Pain, love and death are just a handful of topics we’ve gone through.”
GR: Which bands/musicians are/have been your strongest musical influences?
SR: “Mostly bands that we grew up with or grew up learning. Bands such as Avenged Sevenfold, Dream Theater, Guns‘n’Roses and then more recently bands such as Gojira and Periphery just to name a few. We are also influenced by music/musicians we learned as classical musicians such as Bach and Beethoven. Then there’s always our traditional Polynesian songs passed down by our ancestors and music that our families listen to.”
– What have you got coming up through the rest of 2019?
SR: “We’ve got a tonne of new tracks that we’re working on that could be contenders for our second album. Gigs are lined up around New Zealand including Metalfest in Paihia, the Pacific Fusion Fashion awards in Auckland, a gig in Hamilton and in January next year we will take the stage at Smashfest 2020 in Gisborne. We’re looking at adding more gigs throughout the year.”
GR: Anything else you’d like people to know about you/your music?
“We’re not the first Polynesian Rock/Metal band but we sure as hell are going to be a new era for us Polynesians around the globe! The world will feel us reign down on them soon.”