Track By Track: Shepherds Reign – “Ala Mai”

Shepherds Reign band photo

Polynesian metal force Shepherds Reign hail from South Auckland, New Zealand. United by an ironclad sense of ancestral pride, Shepherds Reign is an ode to fortitude, family, and survival. Alongside frontman and keytarist Filiva’a James, the band includes fellow warriors Gideon Voon (guitar), Oliver Leupolu (guitar/production), Shaymen Rameka (drums) and Joseph Oti-George (bass). Shepherds Reign are just days away from revealing their new album Ala Mai with Golden Robot Records. Ala Mai is a muscular blend of catchy choruses, Gojiran heaviness, ’90s groove metal, and Sepultura’s Roots record.

To celebrate the album’s impending release, James joins us for a track by track exploration of the album’s themes. Ranging from catharsis and personal tragedy to cultural history and mythology, the lyrics are a source of bittersweet reflection and positive strength.

Read the band’s track by track thoughts on this album below.

This song is based on a traditional Samoan song (heard in the intro). It’s about someone who has learned so much that he/she thinks they don’t need the love of their family anymore. Wants a taste of the world and ventures out falling into the many of our worldly temptations. Later figures out that the only happiness they will find lies within their roots. Their family. Our version is more of a lecture to them to return home to their families where they will find true happiness.

A war chant about one of Samoa’s most dominant warriors to ever live, Manu Samoa. We then extended this war chant to be about us. Instead of heading out on our journey to war, we ask our ancestors and families for guidance on our journey to [Shepherds Reign] becoming one of the most dominant metal bands in the world.

A story about Nafanua, Samoa’s Goddess of War. Nafanua, the daughter of Saveasi’uleo, the God of the underworld (Pulotu) was born of a blood clot and buried in the ground. This ancient deity rose from the underworld and defeated all warriors who stood against her to protect her family who suffered at the hands of a foolish King. She was feared by all.

This song is about our lead singer’s sister who was murdered by her spouse and his family. The song is filled with anger and voices what Filivaa feels his sister would have felt just before her death. ‘Ua masa’a le ipu vai’ is translated to ‘The cup has spilt’. A symbolic look at the love once shared, lost like water in a broken cup.

A call to our forefathers for strength and guidance not as Samoans but Polynesia entirely, as we travel around to different countries making our mark. The many obstacles that will stand before us but we believe with the help of our ancestors our stories will be heard. Peace will be brought onto the world. Especially with how time has changed and the many difficulties we face all over the globe.

This song is about the suffering of our world today. The many sins that are being committed and the corrupt lifestyles around the world. This is our message to the world to wake up and realize these hard times and we must change for the better.

A ballad that paints a picture about the realism of depression. A subject that we have gone through personally. The song explains how one loses faith and the pure will to live like they used to, but instead crumbles and watches time go by in misery. Although, it does change in the very last line. Showing the world that there is hope and you can overcome your problems.

A love song. A song about losing hope that you would ever find your one true love, but then finally find someone that makes you happy. Makes you feel like your patience was worth it. A person who has just come into your life and completely changed your perspective on reality.

A soft and very emotional song made as homage for the son of our guitarist Oliver, who unfortunately passed away. Sung in Samoan, English and Tongan as representation of his cultures. Tom will never be forgotten.

We wrote this song to show our love for our children. Especially when they aren’t around. This song was made in hopes that they will understand that no matter where we are in the world or where they’ll end up in the future, we will always love and cherish them wholeheartedly.


A story about tragedy and triumph. Death and victory. Fear and bravery. The biggest countries in the world that tried to rule over our little Pacific Nation, but we did not back down. We did not give in. We fought, we killed and we kept our lands. Many of our men, women and children died protecting our land. You will all be remembered. Samoa for Samoa.

Follow the band for news and updates HERE

Order the album from Golden Robot Records HERE

Shepherds Reign band photo 2