Metal Hammer Golden Gods 2005

London - June 13, 2005
Capacity 2,000

The Astoria was decked out tonight like I've never seen it before. Every wall, ceiling and railing was covered in red fabric in the main entrance and main stairway that led to the upstairs area. The stage had long, thin screens hanging down each side for projecting patterns and logos on. And the screens at the side of the stage were actually on. Remarkable. This was only the third Metal Hammer Golden Gods Awards show to date. Awards were presented in all the usual categories such as Best UK Band, Best International Band, Best Newcomer etc, as well as the obligatory uber awards for the legends of the genre, and one brand new award. Hosted by XFM supremo Ian Camfield and recorded for broadcast on UK radio and ITV1, a very small number of tickets were available to the public. The bottom floor of the Astoria was for said public, while the top floor was for the assortment of special guests, bands and award winners.

Camfield kicked the night off with a short introduction before the first band of the evening, Trivium, unleashed a two-song set of brutality. Seriously heavy, brilliantly executed. Shame it was so short. After the usual clearing up and changing of drum kits that occurs after a band have finished playing, the first batch of awards were presented. First up was Best UK Band, collected in person by winners Lostprophets. This was not a popular thing. They were booed off stage in seconds. One band member barely got out a single “Thanks a lot”. An excellent start. Then, almost immediately afterwards, the next award was announced. It was clear it was going to be quite a quickfire evening. There was a large screen at the back of the stage for showing videos on and stuff, which I was expecting them to use to show the nominees before announcing the winner, but they just used it to display the winners name.

The second award, for Best Live Band, went to Slipknot, collected in person by drummer Joey Jordison and one of the other goons from the band. This was only mildly more appreciated than Lostprophets. They were at least allowed to complete their (lame) acceptance speech. Next up, two awards (this wasn't explained) for Best Underground Band. This was the first award to have a special guest presenting it. Namely, Cristina Scabbia from Lacuna Coil. The first winner was Mastodon, who didn't attend, but were presented with their award backstage at the Download Festival in Donington the day before, so there was a taped acceptance from Bill Kelliher and Brann Dailor on the video screen. The second winners, who were there in person, much to Cristina's delight, were swedes Meshuggah.

The award for Best Newcomer was an odd one. Well, not so odd when you know the mentality (and age) of most Metal Hammer readers. The winners, Nightwish, have been around for years. They've recently released their 5th studio album and their second DVD. They're not newcomers by any reasonable definition of the word. Except that most Metal Hammer readers are painfully sheltered individuals who have no idea about metal outside of the commercially accepted bands like Slipknot, Metallica and Korn and the occasional legend like Iron Maiden. Nightwish collected their award in person, which was no surprise, given that they were scheduled to play a short set later on. The next couple of awards were the most commercially minded ones. Best Metal Label went, rather predictably, to Roadrunner, because they happen to have people like Slipknot and Machine Head on their roster. The metal and rock labels of true quality, like SPV, InsideOut and Spitfire go largely ignored by the Metal Hammer (and Kerrang!, for that matter) reading public because they are, once again, sheltered and lazy.

Best Video went to My Chemical Romance, for their latest single Helena. They weren't there, but were also recorded accepting their award backstage at Download over the weekend. They were the second band of the evening to be universally booed. The final award for the first batch was the award for the “Spirit of Hammer”. Intended to be awarded to a band that perfectly encompasses the spirit of heavy metal. There could only be one winner of this award. Black Sabbath. Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler were on hand to collect the award on behalf of the rest of the band.

With the first batch of awards done and dusted it was time for more music. Bullet For My Valentine delivered a terrible three-song set of boring emo nonsense that sounded exactly like every other emo band on the planet, including Best Video winners My Chemical Romance. They did suffer from a horrible sound mix that was not a problem for Trivium, but this could not really be used as a viable excuse. They were just bad. After another round of gear changing, the air guitar competition was held. Five losers from the crowd entered, to play along to 30 seconds of Eruption by Van Halen on an inflatable guitar. One was dressed as Darth Vader and threw the inflatable guitar to the ground when his turn came, in favour of his lightsaber. The judge, Tony Iommi, rather predictably chose Darth Vader and the very good-looking girl as the two winners. Irritatingly, they each won a brand new Gibson electric guitar. Maybe not quite such losers after all.

Next up, Shadows Fall hit the stage for a three-song set once again plagued by a terrible sound mix. The most anticipated and supported band of the night, their set went down very well. It was a good performance, but the sound really was bad. The guitar was almost non-existent. After another round of gear changing, Nightwish playede. Another excellent and well received set. Vocalist Tarja Turunen has an immensely impressive, operatic voice live that isn't nearly as annoying as it is on record. They were also plagued by a terrible mix with little or no guitar and far too much bass for most their set, but performed well nonetheless.

After the final set of gear changes, the second and final batch of awards were presented. The first of these was the Metal Hammer Icon award, presented to Ville Vallo, vocalist for Finnish band H.I.M. This, again, was not a well received decision. He was booed as soon as he set foot on the stage. He collected his award and stood there, waiting for the booing to stop. It didn't. He started to speak, and was hit in the shoulder by a plastic cup of beer. He started to speak again and the booing died down a little. He made a lame attempt to redeem himself with the crowd by saying that everyone was really there for Black Sabbath, because they started metal, so even if they didn't like what his band personally did, by throwing beer at him, the crowd were really disrespecting Black Sabbath. Bad move. A second cup of beer hit him in the side and he was booed off stage. Luckily, the next couple of awards would calm the now restless crowd. The award for “Riff Lord” (usually called Best Guitarist everywhere else) was given to Black Label Society main man Zakk Wylde. This did go down well. Zakk came out, took the award and instantly got the crowd going with a few shouts of “F**k yeah!” and “Make some f**king noise!”. Zakk then made his way to the side of the stage, posed for a couple of photos, poured beer over the award, kissed it, and threw it into the crowd. He clearly wasn't very impressed with receiving it. Zakk then stuck around in the middle of the stage while Ian Camfield introduced the next award. I thought he was just being stubborn, but all became clear.

The next award was a brand new award, created in remembrance of fallen Damageplan guitarist "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott. Before making the presentation, Zakk spent a little while relating a story about Dimebag from when Zakk had been touring with Ozzy Osbourne and Dimebag had met up with him backstage and given him a gift of some Randy Rhoads stage shots. The Dimebag Darrell Young Guitarist award was given to Dragonforce's Herman Li, who brought the rest of the band on to accept the award with him.

Next up, The Used won Best International Band. Also not a popular choice. Luckily (for them) they weren't able to attend, and another recorded acceptance from Download was played. The Best Album was awarded to Judas Priest, who also couldn't make it, so a recorded acceptance from backstage on their in-progress North American tour was played. On to the final two awards, and the ultimate award, the Golden God, was presented to Motorhead mainman Lemmy Kilmister. This was a very popular choice. Lemmy's acceptance speech consisted entirely of “Thanks, I probably don't deserve it, but I've got it anyway! Hah!”, and he was gone. Legend. Finally, Anthrax took the Best Metal Band award (which I knew slightly beforehand, thanks to a knowing nod from Anthrax's sound man behind the soundboard). Tonight, Anthrax were also the headline band, so quickly packed their award off backstage, picked up their guitars and came back out to rock for half an hour to close the night.

Recently reuniting their classic era lineup from the Among The Living album and onwards, Anthrax hit the stage running, although were once again the subject of a poor sound mix. They ripped through four largely unrecognisable thrash songs (unless you're a fan, presumably) before vocalist Joey Belladonna, who had been superb all set, left the stage to make way for Shadows Fall's Brian Fair to commit his voice to a storming cover of Pantera's New Level to close the evening.

All in all, an excellent evening celebrating heavy metal. Even if most of the awards were voted for by kids who don't know anything about metal and were too young to attend to the show (hence the disapproval of a few of the winners, which the winners themselves didn't quite seem to understand). Some funny incidents, some good performances and a few deserving winners. That's more than can be said for most other awards shows.

“ a few deserving winners ”

Written by Andy Lye
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