Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Metal Hammer Golden Gods Awards 2012 - My Reaction

 Monday night saw the announcement of the winners of this year's Golden Gods Awards decided by faithful deliverers of all thing metal Metal Hammer magazine. So, still freshly hungover from Download as are my friends that actually did see Black Sabbath and Kyuss Lives! to my surprise and partial relief, many bands went down to the IndigO2 in London's O2 Arena for the tenth annual event. No broadcast has been found of the Ceremony by my hopeless self yet, but the winners have been announced and since I spent time writing down who I had cast my vote for, it's worth my time to see who actually won big on the night and see if it matches my hopes and expectations.

Best New Band: The Defiled - On the whole, The Defiled taking the Best New Band award home with them is pretty satisfying. With intense breakdowns, transitions between the delirious screams and sweeping melodic vocals of frontman Stitch D and dabbling in grim and intense industrial backdrops their debut Grave Times is a metal debut like no other. While it's truly awesome to see them achieve this goal, my vote did go to Welwyn hardcore titans Heights for the much more real, earthly tones presented on their debut Dead Ends. Now given the fact that I liked Heights for their realism but am glad The Defiled won despite their cartoonish ghoulish image and use of extra synthesizers, there's something quite contradictory about these two bands. Oh good lord! I love both of theeeeeeemmmmmm...

Best Breakthrough Artist: Ghost - The major rising of occult metallers Ghost over the past year and even past few months has really taken the world of metal by surprise. I mean, when you see the shocking appearance of frontman Papa Emeritus in his Satanic cardinal uniform and his company of "Nameless Ghouls" that perform all instruments without any identity of whom they may be, you have no choice but to see what they're about do you.? My first experience of their music and real presence besides seeing them appear in magazines was in seeing them live when they supported Trivium on the Metal Hammer Defenders of the Faith III Tour and their crushing performances of truly Satanic doom metal was ground shaking-ly heavy and was a simply incredible experience. This may be an awesome result, but I would have preferred to have seen Cancer Bats take this. Dead Set on Living is definitely one of their more triumphant releases which sees them back on their game.

Best Underground Band: Watain - Gotta say, I didn't realise that Watain were still being viewed as an underground band. Certainly they're part of the scene of black metal, a genre rooted in underground and are making a hell of a work out of it on the monolithic performances on the  likes of Casus Luciferi and Lawless Darkness and on their commendable live shows, so with such high regard they've received over the years, it seems that now they've finally started to achieve some mainstream attention and being awarded for being the Best Underground Band should help them in conquering the dark throne of black metal. (That pun was totally kvlt.) For similar reasons and because of a greater influence from traditional death metal, my vote in this case went to Black Breath, whose grim metal sounds is truly the sound of the metal underground. Either way, both bands are making a sound that can only be described in metallic circles as being trve.

Best British Band: Saxon - Yeah, it's pretty cool to a a band like Saxon, a band that has been an extremely accomplished and influential group, with Metallica and Megadeth both citing them as major influences but always pretty overlooked in the grand scale of things receiving such a grand award. Because Biff Byford and co have written some enormous metal songs over the past thirty years with a certain amount being of a standard to give Iron Maiden a run for their money. And with last year's Call to Arms proving they still had they ferocity and songwriting ability to prove that their time o fade away is long to come, this award effectively proves that winning the hearts of British heavy metal fans is something they most definitely can do.

Best International Band: Lamb of God - I have to say how surprised I am Meshuggah never won because their latest effort Koloss was so monstrously heavy, I thought that against the majority of all Hammer readers, no other band could stand a chance. But man, I am proud to see Lamb of God win this award. My love for Lamb of God has always been prominent and while their most recent effort Resolution isn't even my favourite album of 2012, there's something so undeniably special about it. Have you ever listened to an album in which the final song in the collection is the kind of song that actually makes you want the band to split up so that they have no chance of having a track that might be too underwhelming and you feel that that last song would just be the perfect song to end their career on? Resolution might not be the best album of 2012 but so far, King Me is definitely the best individual song. I'd like to hear the song that can beat it.

Best Event: Iron Maiden's UK Tour - When Maiden brought their epic tour of their magnificent 2010 release The Final Frontier to the UK last summer, they did so by performing in front of a sold out O2 Arena with a killer set of songs, their biggest Eddie to jam onstage with them and some of the most passionate performances recorded. But, my vote was cast for the coming together of The Big 4 in the UK last year that saw Dave Mustaine play onstage with Metallica live for the first time in many UK fans lifetimes.If that isn't truly inspiring in circles of metal, I don't know what is.

Best Live Band: Rammstein - You have to think about seeing a Rammstein show these days. Highly commended for the range of high-budget pyrotechnics and crunching heaviness, the range of stunts performed, be it frontman Till Lindermann being engulfed head to toe in flames, flaming arrows being shot into the crowd or simulated sodomy have made little change over the past few years, nor has the range of songs played, with a greatest hits collection recently released suggesting little plans for major amounts of new material being introduced. But even if it is a show that has been performed almost a million times, you would still definitely go to see it. I hadn't seen any of the bands on offer this time around so me voting was a little pointless.

 Dimebag Darrell Shredder: Devin Townsend - The competition for the award for best guitarist names in honor of late Pantera legend "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott was certainly tough this year but it's presentation to one of modern metal's most creative, skilled and frantic minds. Devin Townsend, the twisted seven-string shredder behind the creative, off-the-wall in terms of humour and ideas and blistering performances heard on Strapping Young Lad and his towering amount of solo material as well as the Devin Townsend Project, a musical project as charged up on metallic fury as it is filled with lush atmospheric soundscapes is truly deserving of an award that honours work of such genius and creativity to be created by guitar. It's work that is a treat for metal fans everywhere.

Best Drummer: Vinnie Paul, Hellyeah: Man, I don't talk about drummers enough. And if the efforts any drummer should be seriously considered it's that of current Hellyeah sticksman Vinnie Paul. Vinnie will always be best known for being one of the tight comrades that made up Pantera besides his other musical ventures and it's a pretty fair position to be remembered for. Helping to adapt a new kind of beat that fused the groovy rhythms of hip-hop with the pouncing assaults of hardcore and metal, Paul will forever be known for creating the heart-pouncing rhythms of Cowboys From Hell and Vulgar Display of Power amongst others and for inspiring the birth of a new level of enthusiasm for metal which (once passing through the nu metal phase) influenced some of the greatest metal bands of our age. Truly, one of the best drummers of our age.

Best Album: Mastodon - The Hunter: Yes yes yes yes!!!! It's so awesome to see the way that Mastodon's incredible fifth album The Hunter continues to earn a place as the best album of the past 12 months, especially since I included it in such a position at the end of last year. But y'know, I've talked it up to death now. There's nothing new I can really say about it now, just, thank you for existing.

Best Video: Trivium - In Waves - IIIIIIINNNN WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAVESSS!!!! Yeah, I kind of had to do that. Trivium's In Waves is a pretty interesting video I suppose. Seeing the band take a break from invading house parties and hanging out in bomb shelters to play their metal anthems and instead spend some time in an unspecified jungle land getting chased by freaky looking tribespeople without an instrument in site was certainly a surprise. Plus, with such cinematic grandeur epic camera shots and the facial displays of each band member conveying a pure emotional state to match the tone of the song with... wait, I dropped drama because of this shit. Give me Curl of the Burl and let's watch a drugged up lumberjack throw a tree at the sun.

Metal as Fuck: Anthrax - The band that have always been at the lowest scale of the entire Big 4 of thrash metal have always been the band that's been more committed and more devoted to making pure metal than any of the others. That's a really controversial remark. But as Metallica fell into disarray with their fated Lulu album and attention towards Megadeth being pointed towards Dave Mustaine's big mouth while off of the stage, Scott Ian and friends in Anthrax have been shredding away with no bullshit. Throughout lineup changes, the band have always kept some solidity and with their triumphant displayed on last year's Worship Music the thing that was obvious about the NY thrasher's metal credentials was that they existed and they still do exist. They exist like fuck.

Spirit of Hammer Award: Bill Bailey - When everyone's favourite stadium-filling musician stand up Bill Bailey walked away from his beloved by the public role as a team captain on Never Mind the Buzzcocks his claim that spending time with unknown indie musicians that have never boosted themselves to higher positions in the world of music had brought him down. His resurgence last year truly revealed his proper musical inclinations when he played at last year's Sonisphere festival and started the world's first "comedy-mosh-pit". Bailey has truly proved himself to be at one with the metalheads and his constant obsession with Opeth, Mastodon and various other names in prog and thrash metal proves it effortlessly.

Metal Hammer Inspiration Award: Roadrunner Records - It was a distressing discovery to metal fans everywhere when it was revealed that Warner Music Records would be shutting down all the UK an Canadian offices for Roadrunner Records. The label has done so much for metal over the past 20+ years, be it bestowing upon us the talents of Sepultura, Machine Head and Slipknot or injecting new life into the likes of Megadeth and Korn, it can't be denied that the label has done some amazing things for metal. One can only hope things can be done to keep it firmly standing as a label as a whole. Long live Roadrunner.

Metal Hammer Icon: Fear Factory - A band with a truly unique sound, there's no denying the sheer levels of influence and excellence that Fear Factory have introduced onto the world of metal. Their crushing display of intricate metallic grooves with the kind of tightness that only pushes the levels of heaviness and technical mastery to new boundaries mixed with darkly creative and immersive industrial backdrops has fueled such classics as Demanufacture and modern classics as Mechanize and this month's The Industrialist. Icons to the world of metal doesn't even begin to describe.

Metal Hammer Riff Lord: Robb Flynn & Phil Demmel, Machine Head: As Imperium crashed into action on my first experience of listening to Machine Head, it was clear that the guitar work displayed was truly a special kind that truly intertwined smoothly with one another and complimented each player's work of forceful strumming. And throughout the time that Robb Flynn and Phil Demmel have played together in Machine Head, the ability to construct well structured and melodic and simultaneously brutal and skull-crushingly heavy. Whether it's in Davidian, Aesthetics of Hate or the epic scale riffage that opened up last year's magnificent Unto the Locust on I Am Hell (Sonata in C#) the joint axe skills of Flynn and Demmel are the kind that proves that heavy metal still lives and breathes with total purity.

The Golden God: Joey DiMaio, Manowar - HAIL, GODS OF WAR! Well, I've been working on this blog post long enough and have had enough beer to agree with this statement without any kind of questioning. The world of battle-charging, viking-tongued, warmongering battle metal would be nothing without the music of Manowar. And with Joey DiMaio at the helm of the band, there's nothing that could tear them apart. The entire mystical image of metal we've all loved to envisage of slaying dragons, charging in mighty sword battles and other such factors that a Warhammer session would be nothing about is all cast down from the vision that DiMaio, Eric Adams, Ross the Boss and many others have crafted in Manowar. All hail Kings of Metal!

 That took ages to write. I just know I'd have had an easier time just going to the show itself but that requires invites and suitable travel to London and several other measures. But it's great to see that Metal Hammer are keeping sensible and awarding some of the most deserving. I suppose the nominees awarded have been for the most part of an epic sized quality from the less-subtle of the new bands The Defiled, Ghost and Watain getting awarded to established metal legends like Saxon, Iron Maiden and Joey DiMaio getting awarded. And with modern giants like Machine Head and Lamb of God seeing themselves awarded, it can only be noted that things seem to be falling into pieces with metal right now. And Metal Hammer is going to make the next twelve months bolder, brasher and more mind-blowing than you've heard before.

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