Indigenous Week Day 7: Polynesian Power: Te Ruki and Kūka’ilimoku

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Te Ruki – Marako Te Ruki

Artist: Te Ruki
Album: Marako Te Ruki

Label: Independent

Release Date: 21/04/2022

Location: Windward Islands, French Polynesia

Te Ruki present us with not just a killer album but a whole new sound in black metal, with their patented ‘Polynesian battle metal’ style.

The band throw a highly charged black metal assault at the listener that hits them with wave after wave of melodic black metal with some atmospheric elements. What really makes the band and this album unique is the inclusion of tribal elements and influences throughout. It results in a unique flow and rhythm to the whole album that I honestly don’t think I’ve found anywhere else.

The album is presented fully in Tuamotuan and covers lyrical themes of traditional Tahitian religion, culture, warfare, mythology, and mana. For anyone who isn’t aware, mana is the spiritual life force energy that permeates the universe and is a crucial concept in many traditional Polynesian and Melanesian cultures. The album’s title Te Ruki translates to “The Night” and the band state that “the “Mana’ of TE RUKI comes from lands, seas, winds, the moon and the pride of its people armed in the name of their gods: Oro, Ruahatu, Tohitika.”

Instrumentally the band present a highly impressive, high-speed style of black metal that while being on the melodic side of the genre also works in a good amount of atmosphere and aggression. The drums in particular are a crucial aspect of the music, they’re relentless and drive the album ever forward without any rest. Backing these drums up are segments of traditional Polynesian drumming and these are one of the elements that give the album such a unique overall sound. When used in unison with the primary drum work, they create an entrancing rhythmic effect.

The guitar work on the album is also stellar and gives the listener plenty of groove and rhythm to band their head along to. There are some standout riffs throughout the album that will stick with the listener after each spin. The use of keyboard throughout the album really helps to develop the more atmospheric segments and adds a ton of depth to the overall sound of the album, honestly it wouldn’t be the same without it. The bass on the release also helps to expand that depth of sound rather than standing out on its own in the mix. Finally, we have the occasional use of Vivo (Tahitian nasal flute), which is just one more element that gives the album a unique sound and I wish that there was more of it throughout the album.

The vocals on the album would have to be one of my favourite elements. They’re so powerful and commanding and really hold the listeners attention, making sure to convey the band’s message. The fact that the lyrics are all in Tuamotuan make them that much more interesting to listen to and the language really sounds fantastic with extreme metal vocals. There are multiple styles on display here too, from gruffer, more guttural barked vocals to rawer, higher picked screeched black metal vocals. You’ll also find group shouted vocals and some clean semi talked, semi shouted vocals. The band do an excellent job of layering their vocals, using the technique relatively frequently without it feeling overdone.

Overall, this is a fantastic album and one that really stands out from its peers as being truly unique. I think that all fans of the more melodic side of black metal should take time out of their day to check this album and this band out. There’s plenty to love about Marako Te Ruki, so dive on in and enjoy.

Written by James Sweetlove

Listen to and order the album:

Bandcamp

Kūka’ilimoku – Ho’omana Nuclear Moon

Artist: Kūka’ilimoku
Album: Ho’omana Nuclear Moon

Label: ASRAR

Release Date: 10/11/2022

Location: Honolulu, Hawaii

Kūka’ilimoku is a Native Hawaiian artist that focuses on these of Hawaiian nationalism, culture and history. These influences are on full display on his new EP Ho’omana Nuclear Moon.

The album is very much in the vein of raw black metal but with a unique twist. It draws heavy influence from surf rock, particularly with its rhythms and riffs. Most impressively, it manages to do so without sacrificing any aggression or rawness, a feat that I didn’t think was possible. It almost makes the album feel like a black ‘n’ roll release, but the overall sound is a little too distinctive in style to lazily call it that. The result of this seamless fusion is an album chocked full of some of the catchiest riffs you will hear in 2022, all while still delivering a raw and pure black metal offering.

The artist and his project are relatively mysterious and do not have any socials. In fact, the album was actually taken down from Bandcamp just two days before this article was set to run. The artist’s bio also states that he lives in Honolulu, however Metallum lists his current location as Seattle, Washington, so even more mystery there. Anyway, none of those matters, what matters is the music, and the music is top notch.

The vocals on the album are raw and sit somewhere between being shrieked and barked, with a real rasp to them. These pair perfectly with the high energy, bouncy riffs that relentlessly wash over the listener in waves (pun intended with the surf rock influence). Backing this up are the drums which while sitting relatively low in the mix are still crucial to the fullness of the project’s overall sound and energy. In addition to this you’ll find some traditional wind instruments occasionally being worked in the mix which adds a little more atmosphere here and there.

It all comes back to that guitar on this release though, it just captures your attention and doesn’t let it go. The artist has found a way to perfectly combine a raw black metal guitar tone with super groovy riffs and make it work. I can’t really stress enough how much I enjoy this element of the album; it’s going to have me coming back for more going forward. I’m hoping that the album ends up back on Bandcamp so that I can listen to it there again, as it isn’t on Tidal or Spotify either.

Overall, this is a killer album and one that I’m extremely happy to have stumbled across. Native Hawaiian metal is something I didn’t realise existed, but I’m very happy that it does. If you’re a black metal fan in any capacity, then you need to listen to this album.




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