Hundreds of rockstars. Thousands of you. And in a legendary location synonymous with Motörhead. There was an audible gulp in the room when we decided to upgrade to a venue twice the capacity of our old stomping ground, the IndigO2, but with a salute to Lemmy on the cards we could think of no better place to celebrate the Golden Gods and our 30th anniversary. Even more awesomely, we set the ticket price to £6.66, and our good friends at the Eventim Apollo waived their fees so it could all go into the Heavy Metal Truants pot for Teenage Cancer Trust, Childline and Nordoff Robbins.
With ‘Satanic Wacky Races’ as the theme for arrivals, first up tonight are Amon Amarth, escorted by an almighty troupe of Vikings. Judging by the grin on his face, Johan Hegg should win the award for Happiest Frontman Of 2016. Pulling up in a hearse, the sinister Sons Of Balaur materialise, straight from the pages of metal graphic novel Realm Of The Damned. “This is another opportunity for us to spread the unholy gospel of Balaur,” rasps frontman Tomas. “We’re just here as a conduit for our great Lord. The question is, are we going to behave?” Then Dani Filth runs over and screams in their faces, proving that he’s definitely not going to…
On the red carpet, Dragonforce’s Herman Li and bandmate/Sinsaenum man Frédéric Leclercq have rocked up, taking a break from recording their new album. Herman’s relieved they don’t have to perform during the ceremony this year, and can enjoy some Fireball whisky. “We’ve been stuck in a studio for way too long. Let’s get drunk, Lemmy style!” he laughs.
The Shrine, who played on the final Motörboat cruise, have got their own celebrations planned. “We’ll be playing a few of his songs when we DJ the aftershow party later. You can expect hot love. That’s Motörhead – sex and rock’n’roll!”
Further down the carpet, Dave Mustaine is interviewing Beartooth’s Caleb Shomo in his other job as a TV presenter for Sky Arts. The Megadeth frontman is looking forward to Saxon’s Salute To Lemmy. “I’m going to be cheering from the sidelines,” he tells us.
Inside, the bar is filling up. Asking Alexandria bassist Sam Bettley is abstaining from alcohol ahead of getting tattooed tomorrow, but it’s guitarist Cameron Liddell’s 27th birthday, so he and drummer James Cassells line up the shots. Yeah… this is gonna get messy.
With all 3,500 people inside the venue, a roar goes up as Amon Amarth take to the stage for a three-song set. There are jets of flame, dragons breathing smoke, and the first moshpit of the night. Johan slams a massive hammer onto the stage in a burst of fire. “Now raise your horns!” he bellows. “All hail Motörhead, and all hail Lemmy!”
When the guys leave the stage, Metal Hammer’s own Stephen Hill introduces our host for the night, Hatebreed frontman Jamey Jasta, before Hammer editor-in-chief Alexander Milas addresses the audience. “Welcome to the Metal Hammer Golden God Awards! Can I just say how incredible it is to be saying that nearly 35 years to the day that Motörhead released No Sleep ’Til fucking Hammersmith? Of course, tonight isn’t only about celebrating Lemmy Kilmister, it’s not only about giving awards to the great and the good of the metal community, it’s also about Metal Hammer magazine, because tonight we’re celebrating 30 fucking years,” he pronounces, before moving on to acknowledge the friends and family of those lost in the Orlando club shooting. “On behalf of one community to another, there is no place for that bullshit in this world. Can we all agree on that?” he asks, answered by resounding cheers of support. He presents the award for Best New Band to Creeper, who have made their own Orlando tributes out of rainbow ribbon and pinned them to their jackets.
Next up, Enslaved win Best Underground, and disappear to celebrate. We later receive some disturbing grainy photos of them doing unspeakable things to their award. While Asking Alexandria are waiting outside to pick up Best UK Band, a pissed James spots C.S.R from Schammasch leaning against a wall and freaks out. “What the fuck is that? It scares the shit out of me!” he points. C.S.R grins creepily back. Onstage, Saxon’s Biff Byford comes out to introduce them. “Tonight’s about the Awards, but it’s also about my fucking great friend Lemmy,” he says. “I’ve got to tell you a little story. In 1979, Lemmy took pity on us, and invited us on tour. On the back of the truck one night, somebody wrote in the dust, ‘No sleep ’til Hammersmith’, and that’s where they got the title from.”
Beartooth receive the Breakthrough, award, Lamb Of God win Best Live, and Ghost get Best International, though laryngitis prevents Papa Emeritus from attending tonight. Get well soon, your Unholiness. C.S.R accepts Best Independent Label on behalf of Prosthetic, and Phil Campbell picks up Riff Lord, dedicating it to “absent friends”, and joking to trophy-less bandmate Mikkey Dee backstage that “only musicians get awards!”
Then it’s time for Halestorm to rock the room, Lzzy Hale screaming her lungs out during I Miss The Misery, while everyone proceeds to lose their shit. Anthrax and Sixx: A.M. watch Gojira play a set that’s heavier than the heaviest matter in the universe, while Black Peaks and Heck excitedly chant _“_Gojira! Gojira! Gojira!” from the balcony. We hear they might be fans. When we catch Gojira’s Joe Duplantier afterwards, he’s full of enthusiasm. “Metal Hammer is the shit!” he declares. “We’re very happy to have been on the cover. We’re like kids, it’s happening for us. It’s amazing.” He also acknowledges Lemmy’s lasting impact. “He inspired so many people to be themselves,” he says. “Even after his departure, he’s an example to people: just be yourself, go and growl into a microphone like Chewbacca, and you’ll be fine and famous.”
In the break before the next lot of awards, we find Anthrax drinking copious amounts of Guinness, while Sixx: A.M. are confused about the British crisps left in their private bar. Axeman DJ Ashba finds the concept of Beef & Onion particularly hilarious and settles for a banana instead, while Dave Mustaine eats a shedload of apples. Rockstars, eh?
In the bar, JB from Grand Magus is raising a glass to Lemmy. “We’re a three-piece, and Motörhead were one of our biggest influences from the start,” he explains. “Lemmy was just the real deal, someone that everyone who’s in rock’n’roll should try and learn things from!” Tesseract guitarist James Monteith agrees. “Lemmy taught me that it’s OK to drink a bottle of whisky a day! I’d like to think that’s helped me.” Er, maybe not, pal.
Meanwhile, Creeper’s Will wears the expression of a man whose Halloweens have all come at once, incredulous about walking the same stage as another late hero, David Bowie. “I’m feeling really overwhelmed,” he says. “None of us expected to win – it’s a complete mindfuck! Especially being in this building, because it’s where David Bowie killed off Ziggy Stardust. So it’s a combination of dreams all coming true at once.” Cane Hill’s Elijah Witt offers him a hearty handshake and goes off to get drunk, much to the disapproval of his mum, who he’s brought along tonight. Heck’s Johnny Hall also offers his congratulations, with a sporting, “I knew you were going to win!”
Interval over, Lzzy Hale accepts the Dimebag Darrell ‘Shredder’ award, genuine amazement etched across her face. “They totally got me!” she exclaims. “They’re like, ‘Yeah, good luck!’ This is the first-ever anything I’ve been nominated for for guitar, so thank you so much to Metal Hammer, this is absolutely fucking amazing. Also, for my ladies in rock and metal. I’ve been in a band since I was 13 years old – all I ever wanted to do was rock.”
Anthrax claim the Inspiration award, and Ash Costello, who’s rewritten her speech eight times, presents Nikki Sixx with the Icon Award: “He’s been through hell and back and survived to tell the tale… all while having the best hair in rock’n’roll!” she announces. Bruce Dickinson accepts Best Album for The Book Of Souls via a video from Ed Force One, and Chthonic walk away with the Global Metal award for their work campaigning for Taiwanese independence.
There’s only one award left, and it’s a surprise: as Joey Jordison walks on to accept the Golden God, roars of “Joey! Joey! Joey” erupt. “You know, this is a hard one to do, because this is the first time I’ve stepped onstage in a long time, and I’m glad to be here,” the drummer begins. He goes on to detail his struggle with the neurological disorder transverse myelitis, which left him unable to use his legs, and required months of physiotherapy. “It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life,” he reveals, welling up. “I am living proof that you can fucking beat this shit. When fucking metal lives within your heart, you can fucking accomplish anything. I’m gonna get out of here now, enough tears are fucking falling. Thank you so much for acknowledging my fucking life. Thank you, cheers!”
With emotions running high, Saxon take play three of their own songs, before a triple tribute of Ace Of Spades, Born To Raise Hell and Overkill with Phil Campbell and Mikkey Dee. “Let’s raise the roof with this one – it’s for members of Motörhead past and present!” yells Phil. Fists, horns and voices are duly lifted.
Post-ceremony, spirits remain high. Gojira’s Mario Duplantier gifts us with a custom-painted drum head, and once again we find there’s something in our eye. At the aftershow, The Shrine keep their promise of ‘hot love’ by spinning a solid hour of Motörhead –B-sides and all – while Johan Hegg and JB make our party 100% more Viking than any other. Beartooth’s Caleb gets up on the decks, an increasingly drunk Dani Filth is dancing to the Bee Gees, and Cane Hill’s Elijah is biting people at the bar. It’s all gone a bit weird. We’re just gonna knock back Lemmys until everything becomes a blur. See you next year…
For more on the Golden Gods, visit www.metalhammer.com. To find out about the Heavy Metal Truants, head to www.heavymetaltruants.com