Back In Black: How the Golden Gods awards came roaring back to life

A photograph of Golden God Tony Iommi

When Metal Hammer’s parent company collapsed six months ago, we didn’t know if the magazine would ever see the light of day again. This bleak time was made infinitely better by the huge outpouring of love and support from our scene, including a surprise staff crowdfunding campaign set up by Orange Goblin frontman Ben Ward and his partner Sandie Soriano. So when Hammer found a new home at Future Publishing, we set about putting together the best Golden Gods awards show in heavy metal history. You want riffs, legends, and the goddamn biggest party of the year? Then step this way! We’re back…. and it’s going to be loud.

6:30PM: The IndigO2 is eerily quiet, as members of Team Hammer make some final preparations. This room has no idea what it’s in for tonight…

7PM: Guests start walking down the red carpet. Pallbearer have been nominated for Best Underground and bassist Joe Rowland knows how he’s celebrating if they win. “I’m gonna get really drunk,” he tells us. “I’ve been digging Blood And Sand recently. It’s a Scotch cocktail containing cherry liquor!” Sounds pretty metal.

7:20PM: The Dillinger Escape Plan will soon be bowing out, and Ben Weinman has big plans. “I’ll probably just disappear onto some farm somewhere and never be heard from again!” he laughs. Somehow we doubt that.

Employed To Serve make a bid for the Best International Sign Of Metal award

Employed To Serve make a bid for the Best International Sign Of Metal award

7:30PM: Employed To Serve are stoked to be in the same room as Dillinger, but have managed to play it cool. Vocalist Justine Jones shares a valuable secret: if you drink 10 beers, your drunkenness resets to 0. That’s handy to know…

7:40PM: Felix Lawrie from Best New Band nominees Brutai is grinning like a loon. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. We’re all smiling and buzzing to be here!”

8:15PM: Sabaton are talking about how they brought their tank to Download. “Yes, next year we bring two!” they joke. Bring. It. On.

8:17PM: Our MC, Ed Gamble, is onstage to inform us that there’s a delay due to additional security checks in the venue. He’s also instructing people to tell him to fuck off. Bold start.

8:35PM: Ed is back! And then almost immediately gone again, replaced by Hammer hero Ben Ward and the mighty Orange Goblin. There’s something undeniably cool about seeing OG’s groove-driven metal played in front of a wall of amplifier stacks. The Golden Gods are well and truly under way.

Avatar entertain the crowds

Avatar entertain the crowds

8:40PM: “Make some noise for Metal Hammer!” Ben urges the audience. Oh, stop. You’re making us blush. “Make some noise for heavy metal!” Now that we can definitely get on board with.

8:50PM: “Let’s all get drunk!” Orange Fucking Goblin have left the stage. What a band. We’re duly obliging them.

8:55PM: Backstage, we’ve just witnessed Prophets Of Rage’s Tom Morello and Chuck D arrive at the same time as Tony Iommi. “Man, that’s Tony Iommi, that’s so cool!” raves Tom, before going over to greet the legend. Meanwhile, Tom, a legend himself, spends the whole night getting stopped for selfies.

9PM: MC Ed’s back onstage. He’s a “just a stupid comedian”, apparently. We’re starting to get concerned that he may have some self-esteem issues. But never mind, he’s here to introduce our host for the night – CHRIS JERICHO!

9:05PM: Chris Jericho is wearing his sparkly, light-up blazer. He looks like a disco ball came to life and grew arms, and is joined by DJ Mel Clarke, who defo looks less disco ballish.

9:08PM: Metal Hammer editor Merlin Alderslade comes onstage to present the Best New Band. But first, shoutouts for fallen comrades Negru, Tom Searle and Chris Cornell.

9:10PM: And the winner of Best New Band is… Venom Prison!

9:11PM: Chris Jericho is suggesting that Merlin might be a knight. Sure.

9:12PM: And the Best Underground band is… Pallbearer!

9:13PM: Offstage, Bjorn from In Flames tells us there’s a specific Swedish word for ‘crywank’. Hope we never need it.

9:14PM: Devin Townsend also contributes to the conversation. “I had a dream that I was having sex with my dad, and I’m trying to figure out what it was indicative of, because it was traumatising, but compelling!” he laughs. “I like to think that maybe on some level I’m taking control of my life now as a father. I’ve had dreams that I’m with my mum, too, like Oedipus… but each time there’s an awareness that it’s fundamentally wrong!” Okaaaaay

Orange Goblin: Ben Ward hits another screamer

Orange Goblin: Ben Ward hits another screamer

9:15PM: A potentially emotional one, this. Who else could be Best British Band, than… Architects! Here to accept their award is Slipknot bassist (and erstwhile Architects crew member), Vman. He and Tom Searle were close, and he shows us the heart tattoo he has on his thumb to mark their friendship.

9:17PM: Mastodon take to the stage to accept their award for Best Live Band. We catch Brann backstage. “Getting the award is awesome, but now we have to prove it!” he laughs. They’ll have the chance to do that later on.

9:20PM: Avenged Sevenfold accept their Best International Band award via video, but not before cheekily dissing Chris Jericho. The scamps.

9:21PM: And the best indie label is… Nuclear Blast!

9:23PM: Anders Fridén and Björn Gelotte of In Flames accept their label’s award. It’s obvious that the band are incredibly proud of them. “And thank you for buying fucking records still!” You’re welcome, Anders.

9:25PM: Saxon’s Biff Byford is here to present the Dimebag Darrell Shredder award! He throws his empty cup into the crowd, hugs Chris, and tells us all about how he met tonight’s winner… Airbourne’s Joel O’Keeffe!

9:26PM: Joel O’Keeffe is aggressively Australian.

9:28PM: “Hello, my name is Devin Townsend and I’m a Riff Lord.” Quote of the night. Closely followed by, “Who wants to see Chris and me blow each other?” We’re alright, thanks, Devin.

Chris Jericho conducts the crowd

Chris Jericho conducts the crowd

9:30PM: Newly crowned Riff Lord Devin tries to take his 80s-style shirt off for our photo backstage, but everyone encourages him to keep it on. “This shirt cost me $10 in the British Virgin Islands!” he exclaims. “I’m exotic!”

9:32PM: We’re still bleaching our mindspace of a Devin/Jericho love-in as Avatar strut onstage.

9:35PM: Avatar are annihilating the IndigO2 with their zombie circus metal. We’re a bit scared.

9:45PM: “We’ve never played in a building with so many people that we grew up giving our money to!” Johannes from Avatar speaks for us all.

10PM: Ed’s back, to announce the best game: Iron Maiden: Legacy Of The Beast! We hoped Eddie might be here to collect it, but instead it’s Iron Maiden’s creative director, Llexi Leon.

10:05PM: IT’S FUCKING CLUTCH! And the Lord said, let there be riffs. And there were, and He saw that they were good.

10:20PM: Ho99o9 are taking in the backstage action, hanging out with the mighty Saxon. They promise us great things for their aftershow set. “It’ll involve blood, semen, sweat, tears, dirt, water, saliva and three crazy mother- fuckers!” theOGM reveals. Count us in.

10:30PM: We spy Mario from Gojira, and wonder if ‘Evil Mario’ is here tonight – his murderous Instagram alter ego who slays unsuspecting rockstars. “Evil Mario is on vacation for now, so the real Mario is here, enjoying this moment,” he replies. “Maybe he’s gone to a cave somewhere under the mountains – a cryptic place…”

Clutch’s Neil Fallon gives the Golden Gods crowd a big hand

Clutch’s Neil Fallon gives the Golden Gods crowd a big hand

10:50PM: Here to present the Best Breakthrough Band are everyone’s favourite military fetishists, Sabaton. The award is sponsored by World Of Tanks. “We like tanks,” they tell us. We know, Sabaton. We know.

10:52PM: And the winner is… Avatar!

10:55PM: It’s time for Hammer’s Defender Of The Faith award. Hammer Deputy Editor Eleanor Goodman and Editor-In-Chief Scott Rowley are onstage to celebrate the magazine’s resurrection. “You may look like evil bastards, but it turns out you’re all softies!” says Scott. And who else could this award go to but our dear friends, Ben Ward and Sandie Soriano.

10:58PM: “For once in my life, I’m lost for words,” Ben Ward says, as he explains how and why he started the fundraiser to save Xmas for TeamRock employees.

10:59PM: “Thank you for giving me something to read on the toilet!” adds Chris. You’re welcome.

11:00PM: “Thrash metal ’til the day I die!” Exodus’s Gary Holt doesn’t mince his words while accepting the band’s Inspiration award from Kreator’s Mille Petrozza.

11:05PM: And the album of the year, presented by Mastodon, is… Gojira’s Magma. Not an opinion, just a statement of fact. Gojira are humble as ever as the crowd starts chanting their name. “Hopefully we’ll be back next year, to present the same award to Mastodon.” Just too sweet. As they come offstage, Troy Sanders gives them massive bear hugs.

Mastodon take the stage

Mastodon take the stage

11:05PM: And the Spirit Of Hammer award goes to Prophets Of Rage. Who else?! Excitement levels are through the roof. Everywhere they’ve been tonight, they’ve been followed by awed murmurs of, ‘Fuck, that’s Chuck D!’

11:07PM: TOM FUCKING MORELLO is currently explaining why Prophets Of Rage are metal. We know, dude. We know. “Thank you very much, death to false metal!” he states.

11:10PM: Radio One’s Daniel P Carter is onstage to present the Icon award. He’s brought branded cue cards for the audience to choose from… but one is literally just a drawing of a dick. Thankfully, he still announces winners THE DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN!

11:11PM:Metal Hammer is something that shouldn’t end. The Dillinger Escape Plan is something that should.” We can only half agree with you on that, lads.

11:12PM: Backstage, Zeal & Ardor’s Manuel Gagneux is walking around in a Take That Wonderland t-shirt that he bought tonight (the pop act are playing the O2 arena next door). He looks slightly crestfallen. “It was an expensive joke!” he chuckles.

11:14PM: We ask Chuck D if he’s having a good time. “I’m still here, aren’t I?” he smiles. We’ll take that as a yes.

11:15PM: Home Of Metal’s Lisa Meyer is onstage to introduce this year’s Golden God. In Chris Jericho’s words, “the man who invented heavy metal”. Tony bloody Iommi!

Ho99o9 raise the temperature of the aftershow party

Ho99o9 raise the temperature of the aftershow party

11:16PM: “He’s a vegan!” Shouts someone in the crowd. Arguably not the thing for which he’s best known, as evidenced by the standing ovation he receives.

11:20PM: And, here to show us exactly why they won that Best Live Band award, it’s the mighty Mastodon! They riff their way through a brilliantly weighty set.

12:01AM: They end with the almighty Blood & Thunder, with a special guest appearance from Clutch’s Neil Fallon, bringing the ceremony to a shuddering close… until next year. Next up: the aftershow! Uh-oh…

12:30AM: It’s all kicking off at aftershow venue Omeara! While Mel Clarke takes control of the decks, Joe from Pallbearer is indeed getting drunk, and will later bust out some moves. Johannes from Avatar has taken off his circus paint. Chris Jericho is holding court at the bar. And Venom Prison are having a lovely time.

1AM: New Jersey’s Ho99o9 take to the stage. Will they make good on their bloody, spunky promise? Let’s find out!

1:15AM: Ho99o9’s drummer is battering his kit to death. TheOGM is screaming his lungs out, his topless torso gleaming under the stage lights. Eaddy has started swinging from the ceiling. There’s a genuine air of danger, and what-the-fuck-is-gonna-happen-next-ness about them. The crowd can’t tear their eyes away.

2AM: It’s time for Ben Ward to round off the evening. Spinning some classics, he brings the party to an end in style. “It’s been great,” he smiles. “I feel part of the Metal Hammer family now.” We shed a tear of joy, have a final drink and head off as the sun rises, ready to do it all again next year.

In Pictures: Metal Hammer Golden Gods 2017

Golden Gods 2017: Mastodon, A7X & Gojira among winners

Metal Hammer Golden Gods 2017: Live Blog