11th June 2012 @ Indigo O2 by Joffie Lovett
It’s a warm June evening as I make my way out of North Greenwich station and walk up to the gargantuan behemoth of a venue that is the O2. Thankfully for tonight though the venue I’m attending is the smaller Indig O2 venue as it’s time to attend my first big music awards ceremony… …tonight; it’s time for the Metal Hammer Golden Gods Awards!
As I had not ever been to the Indig O2 venue before, I was a bit confused at first as to where to go, even more so when I got to the venue at the correct time to pick up the press passes to find no one there. Which was a bit daunting at my very first awards ceremony and I of course did not want to do the classic line of “don’t you know who I am?”
Before we’re allowed in the venue there’s a quick chance to grab a photo in front of the red carpet before we’re escorted in by very busy and very confused looking venue staff that provide both me and the photographer with media passes.
Once inside the venue I’m immediately impressed and at the same time cannot, for the life of me understand why they do not use this venue for more Metal concerts in the future. The venue is stunning inside and easily as big as the old London Astoria that sadly got knocked down and replaced by a crappy new train station, and I can’t help but feel that all of the gigs that used to take place at The Astoria rather than being squashed into the awful venue that is the Islington Academy, should instead be put on here.
The PA system is absolutely top notch and the venue is able to accommodate the right sized crowd much more comfortably.
I had the brief chance to see the very end of Watain’s sound and stage check as they were checking the pyrotechnics on stage, which was very impressive and certainly spread some heat around the empty venue at that stage. After a short while the doors for the regular punters open and the venue starts to fill with a large crowd of young, rabid Metal fans. The first person to come out on stage rather than being Chris Jericho (the pre-announced host of the ceremony) and much to the confusion of the crowd is a young UK Heavy Metal stand-up comedian by the name of Andrew O’Neill, but he gets the crowd suitably warmed up with a couple of jokes before announcing the start of Watain’s set.
Now as much as I love Black Metal and as much as I absolutely love Watain and their music, I think as well as being awarded the Best Underground Band award (which they received later on in the night) which was well deserved to them, they should also receive the award for the most stupidly long and pretentious intro track to any set that I have ever witnessed. Keeping in mind that this is an awards ceremony so each band was only given a strict set of only 15 minutes each (except for the headliners Anthrax who got 20 minutes), to start with an intro track that played over and over and over again on a loop and seemed to go on for around 8 minutes or so (it certainly seemed like a lifetime at the time) I felt was slightly taking the piss for an audience that came to see a good all round performance not just from Watain but for the entire show.
The even more hilariously Black Metal thing was that that first looping track that we all thought was the intro track to their performance (as the lights were all brought down whilst it was playing) was then replaced by yet ANOTHER intro track after it, to which the audience really started to lose patience (and understandably so).
Once Watain do finally make it to the stage however all this is quite quickly forgiven as they launch into an absolute inferno of a performance (in the true sense of the word), opening with the track Malfeitor from the Lawless Darkness album, and the frontman (simply known as H) sets fire to various parts of the stage with a flaming torch in true Black Metal fashion!
Watain then go straight into another track from the Lawless Darkness album entitled Death’s Cold Dark and H goes into a trance like pose rolling his eyes back into his head like a zombie and looking not unlike the old famous photos of Dead from Mayhem before his passing. Unfortunately I’m unsure of what the last track in Watain’s set was that they ended their set with but one thing I can say is that despite their set being so short, the stage set up, the live sound and the overall performance from the band was by far one of the best Black Metal performances I have witnessed for a long time and I hope very much that I can see them perform a full length set very soon in the future! If you’re not familiar with this band but like the traditional Black Metal sound then do yourself a massive favour and check them out!
After Watain’s performance it’s now time to bring on the host of the awards ceremony the legendary wrestler in not only the WWE but previously in WCW and ECW as well as front man of the superb Metal band Fozzy, the Lion Tamer (as I remember him) Chris Jericho!
Thankfully Jericho seems to be not “in character” so to speak with his Wrestling persona and instead opts to portray himself for the genuinely cool, laid back Metal fan that he is in real life and after getting the crowd fired up and cracking a few jokes it’s time to announce the first batch of awards. The first few awards that were announced were as follows:
Best New Band: The Defiled
Best Underground Band: Watain
As I have never really heard much of The Defiled, I didn’t really have an opinion on them winning the Best New Band award, however I was glad that Watain won the Best Underground Band award.
Their award speech (if you can call it that) was typically and pretentiously Black Metal as always with H stating that “I don’t think I need to explain to any of you the absurdity of having a band such as us rewarded at a Red Carpet ceremony, however I accept this award on behalf of all those who came before us and are no longer with us in the Black Metal scene” all of which was said whilst he himself and all the other members of the band stood on stage not showing even a glimmer of happiness or appreciation for the moment. At this point quite a few people in the audience decide to shout “CRACK A SMILE!! GO ON!!” which I found rather hilarious but I think the band weren’t that impressed with.
One thing I would say about classing a band such as Watain as ‘underground’ though is that to use that kind of terminology on a band as successful in the music world as Watain are is slightly naïve for a publication such as Metal Hammer, considering the wealth of bands out there not just in the Black Metal scene but in the whole of Metal who would give their right arms to achieve the kind of success that Watain currently have.
I think a lot of Black Metal fans would class Watain as being a current leader in the genre itself rather than being an underground band, but that’s just my two cents.
Next up it’s time for Biohazard to perform, and whilst I’ve not really been a huge fan of them in the past, I must admit they did perform a pretty blinding set.
As I’m not massively familiar with the band I’ll try and list all of the songs that they played in their set as I know that they played Tales from the Hard Side and the last song in their set was Punishment and they were joined on vocals by the awesome Robb Flynn of Machine Head. Unfortunately I’m unsure of what the 2nd song of the set was but what I can say is that the band was 110% fuelled to kick a massive amount of ass that night. Frontman Billy Graziadei paces over the stage in a truly dominating fashion and given his pretty beefed up physique has all the stage presence of a WWE wrestler or near-abouts.
The crowd gets equally charged up from the energy given off by Biohazard in the performance and a furious mosh pit starts up as well as a couple of crowd surfers as well. The band give one last final goodbye joined by Robb Flynn of Machine Head before handing the stage back once again to Heavy Metal comedian Andrew O’Neill.
Andrew keeps the crowd enthused with a few more jokes before it’s time to witness one of the most truly captivating and spellbinding bands in music today, next up it’s time for the one and only Ghost…
Thankfully Ghost keep their intro track to a minimum compared to Watain and concentrate more on their live performance than anything else, which is as always, absolutely faultless and mesmerising as ever. For a band to exist in this modern age of the internet and constant live updates on sites like Facebook and Twitter, to be able to still accomplish complete anonymity with their line-up is quite an amazing achievement and harks back to the glory days of shock rock and occult music like KISS and Alice Cooper as well as fusing in elements of bands like Blue Oyster Cult and even the kind of brilliant vocal harmonies that you’d find in music like Simon & Garfunkel and The Mamas & Papas of all people.
Despite this wide range of influences, Ghost have managed to achieve off the back of their debut and sole album thus far what many bands have struggled their entire careers for. They have attracted an awe and mystery to them that has been missing from the music world for far too long as well as bringing occult music back to its roots of being more about sinister lyrics and melody rather than the fake over-masculine “Un-Holier Than Thou” posturing of a lot of Death Metal & Black Metal bands in the current Metal scene.
I was also one of the lucky few in the audience to receive a free Ghost tour T-Shirt before the start of Ghost’s set from what I think may have been one of the members themselves, but who knows, he was certainly involved with the band from what I could see on stage anyways.
Ghost start their set off with the song Prime Mover and Papa Emeritus takes to the stage with his usual incense in hand and his haunting vocals sound as brilliant as ever. They then go into Stand by Him as the second track of their set which gets me and the rest of the crowd singing at the top of our lungs before finishing off with their song Ritual with its awesomely powerful chorus. Ghost then do what all good Ghost’s do and disappear off into the night once more, to return when the time is right… …which in their case is to receive an award later on in the night.
Chris Jericho then returns to the stage to announce a few more awards,
first of which is Drummer of the Year award which is given to Vinnie Paul of Pantera/Damageplan/Hellyeah fame and well deserved in my opinion.
His drumming on the Pantera track Becoming, not to mention countless other Pantera tracks is absolutely amazing!
Vinnie Paul then announces the winner of the Dimebag Shredder award which goes to none other than the musical genius that is Devin Townsend and I feel it’s more than deserved for a guy that has created such a wealth and variety of incredible music over the course of his career, well done and nice one Devin!
Chris Jericho then announces the award for Best UK band which goes to the legendary Saxon, and as I am a personal friend of Doug Scarret I can’t help but feel massively proud for him and the rest of the band. For a band to go from 1977 to the present day and go from strength to strength with each release is an incredible achievement and it’s great to see them being rewarded for it at the Golden Gods awards.
The next award is the Best International Band award which goes to Lamb Of God who give a very humble speech to the audience and pay tribute to the soon to be closed UK office of Roadrunner Records before handing the stage back to Chris Jericho for the next award.
Next up is the Metal As Fuck Award (yes, apparently there’s an award for that…?) which is awarded to who better than the headliner of the award ceremony, Anthrax!
Purely for the Fistful of Metal and Among the Living albums alone I feel that this award is well deserved. Both of those albums when you listen to them seem pretty Metal As Fuck to me! Scott Ian makes an impassioned Metal speech to the audience before their set later on in the show and hands the stage back to Jericho.
At this point I feel it’s time to leave the main crowd area and take full advantage of my press pass to go and mingle with the famous folk upstairs.
Once I get through security and come through the doors of the upstairs bar I’m immediately confronted by a wealth of famous faces in front of me from the world of Metal, if it’s not Saxon sitting in one corner, it’s Fear Factory in another and I honestly don’t know where to start! I spot Vinnie Paul standing on one end of the room and have a quick and pretty awkward chat with him (as I know he probably gets approached by fans every hour of every day) but he seems nice enough and allows me to get a quick photo with him (which sadly I later discovered came out completely shit, but anyways…) and I also get to briefly speak with Dino from Fear Factory before heading to the bar.
Whilst at the bar I got chatting to an American guy and it’s only after about 20 minutes of chatting to him that I realise he’s one of the guys from Killswitch Engage! Awkward moment indeed!
I then go and hang out with Saxon for a little bit as Doug Scarret is the only famous face in the room that I actually know and recognise and don’t feel massively awkward approaching. So it was great to speak to him and the rest of the Saxon guys for a while (as well as congratulate them on their win) despite the fact that most of them were absolutely drunk as hell and I think Nibbs (the bass player) could barely stand up for most of the night!
Sadly I only managed to see a very small amount of Sabaton’s set due to the unbelievably and ridiculously long time I had to wait at the bar to be served. From what I did see though the band was absolutely on fire.
Joakim Broden was doing a fine job at showing why he is one of the greatest frontmen in Metal today and the band tore through their set list of Ghost Division, Carolus Rex and Primo Victoria with all the Power (with a capital P) you’d expect from a great Power Metal band! I’m annoyed that I didn’t get to see more of this great band’s set so that I could include more here for you to read but sadly the bars at the Indig O2 were woefully understaffed for such a busy night such as this and I along with everyone else that was there were waiting a lifetime to get any form of service. Something for the venue to look into for next time I think…
After Sabaton’s performance it’s time for the last batch of awards before the headliners Anthrax take to the stage!
Chris Jericho returns to the stage and announces the last few awards as being:
Best Metal Event of 2012: Iron Maiden touring the UK
(not really sure how this is classed as the best event as surely Iron Maiden tour almost every year anyway…?)
Best Live Band: Rammstein (sadly Rammstein were not there to accept the award but they sent a rather gorgeous and beautiful “Ambassador of Rammstein” as she called herself to accept the award. Sufficed to say, Chris Jericho was not looking at her face…)
Riff Lord: Robb Flynn of Machine Head (I think the absolute crushing nature of the opening riff to Imperium alone means that this award is pretty well deserved, don’t you?)
Album of the Year: Mastodon – The Hunter (I’ve only heard this album a couple of times but from what I have heard it is an absolute stomper of an album that mixes together all manner of different Prog influences from Old and New to create something truly special). A well-deserved win for these guys!
The Metal Hammer Icon Award: Bill Bailey (the guy is a musical and comedic legend and he fucking deserves it… …end of story!)
The Golden God Award: Joey DeMaio (I personally feel that the award should have gone to Tony Iommi after all that he’s been through in the past year. As everyone knows the ridiculous pretentiousness that comes with Manowar and the way that they treated fans during their last show at Brixton Academy (which fans had to wait 14 years for I might add!) threatening to eject them from the building for using their cameras and charging them £50 a ticket for a show that featured no support bands and only an hour and a half’s performance from the band with a stupidly long half hour interval in the middle, as well as snubbing the opportunity to play at festivals such as Wacken, Download and Bloodstock does not in my opinion constitute much of a “Golden God” in my opinion, but each to their own I guess.)
After the awards proceedings are through, it’s time for the closing headline act, and what better way to close the show than with one of the big four of the Thrash Metal world… …the titans that are, Anthrax!
The energy of the crowd seems to go up 10 fold once Anthrax take to the stage and it’s great to see Joey Belladonna back on vocals with the band (as much as I like John Bush, I honestly think his stuff with Armored Saint is far better) and screaming out his vocals as loud as ever.
The first song of the set is the thrash-tastic “Fight Em Til You Can’t” from Anthrax’s latest album Worship Music which gets the moshpit and the headbanging off to a flying start.
Next in the set is the Anthrax classic “I Am The Law” which the crowd shout out every word to and I think every hand in the venue is raised with the horns during the chorus. The final song in the set is a special tribute to the late Ronnie James Dio and Black Sabbath in the form of a live cover version of Neon Knights and the crowd absolutely laps this up! I don’t think there’s a single person there who isn’t either singing along word for word or at least headbanging their ass off to the song in one way or another and as a tribute to Ronnie James Dio who in my opinion will forever be the greatest legend in all of Rock and Metal it was most certainly a fantastic way to finish off a fantastic night!
Same time next year ladies and gentlemen!
Full list of Nominations:
· Jinxx and Jake Pitts (Black Veil Brides) WINNER*
· Zoltan Bathory and Jason Hook (Five Finger Death Punch)
· Willie Adler and Mark Morton (Lamb of God)
· Robb Flynn and Phil Demmel (Machine Head)
· Dave Mustaine and Chris Broderick (Megadeth)
· Matt Heafy and Corey Beaulieu (Trivium)
· Charlie Benante (Anthrax)
· Jeremy Spencer (Five Finger Death Punch) WINNER*
· Taylor Hawkins (Foo Fighters)
· Chris Adler (Lamb of God)
· Brann Dailor (Mastodon)
· Tomas Haake (Meshuggah)
· Sebastian Bach
· Andy Biersack (Black Veil Brides)
· James Durbin
· Amy Lee (Evanescence) WINNER*
· Ivan Moody (Five Finger Death Punch)
· Jonathan Davis (Korn)
Album Of The Year
· Anthrax, “Worship Music”
· Evanescence, “Evanescence”
· Five Finger Death Punch, “American Capitalist”
· Foo Fighters, “Wasting Light”
· Korn, “The Path Of Totality” WINNER*
· Lamb of God, “Resolution”
Best Live Band
· Avenged Sevenfold WINNER*
· Foo Fighters
· Guns N’ Roses
· Judas Priest
Most Metal Athlete
· Gina Carano (MMA fighting)
· Brian Deegan (pro motocross)
· Evan Longoria (MLB baseball)
· Dirk Nowitzki (NBA basketball)
· Mitch Petrus (NFL football)
· CM Punk (WWE wrestling) WINNER*
Comeback Of The Year
· Dream Theater
· Slipknot WINNER*
· Van Halen
· Scott Ian (Anthrax)
· Zakk Wylde (Black Label Society)
· Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters)
· Munky (Korn)
· Slash WINNER*
· Eddie Van Halen (Van Halen)
Paul Gray Best Bassist
· Frank Bello (Anthrax)
· Michael Anthony (Chickenfoot)
· Fieldy (Korn)
· David Ellefson (Megadeth)
· Nikki Sixx (Sixx:A.M.) WINNER*
· Wolfgang Van Halen (Van Halen)
Best International Band
· Lacuna Coil
· X Japan WINNER*
Most Dedicated Fans
· Asking Alexandria
· Avenged Sevenfold WINNER*
· Black Veil Brides
· Falling In Reverse