Revolver Golden Gods
Better than ... Any hard rock show you'd see on the Sunset Strip nowadays.
Music awards shows generally suck. They are most often excuses for industry people to slap themselves on the back and perform crappy performances of songs you don't want to hear anyway. Revolver magazine's Golden Gods Awards ceremony, however, was an excuse for non-industry people to bang their heads and celebrate all things heavy.
The evening kicked off with a shredtastic rendition of "The Star-Spangled Banner" performed by a Swedish man. Yngwie Malmsteen, famous for his many fire-and-fog album covers, played lightning-fast licks while a group of Navy Color Guard members bore the flag. The first full performance was by Sixx: A.M., the side project of Mötley Crüe bassist Nikki Sixx. The single "Are You with Me Now" was actually not that metal at all, sounding more like a Shinedown or Nickelback radio single. Still, Sixx was in good form, and guitarist DJ Ashba showed off what would be a leitmotif for the show: two-hand tapping.
The MC for the rest of the proceedings was WWE professional wrestler/game show host/assclown Chris Jericho. Jericho is the lead singer of something called Fozzy, and the crowd was happy to treat him as the heel of the evening. In fact, many of the musical guests (including Zakk Wylde and Aerosmith's Joe Perry) joined in the fun, referring to Jericho as "a fucking douche" throughout the event. The first award was for Best Guitarist(s) of 2012, and it was awarded to Jake Pitts and Jinxx of Black Veil Brides. Next up were presenters Hellyeah, the new band of former Pantera drummer Vinnie Paul, who announced the nominees for Badass Drummer of the Year. The winner was Jeremy Spencer of Five Finger Death Punch.
Orlando, FL metalcore group Trivium took the stage next, amping the volume to ear-bleeding levels. Singer Matt Heafy delighted the crowd by announcing two guest vocalists, Robb Flynn of Machine Head and Corey Taylor of Slipknot, for a cover of Metallica's long and pummeling "Creeping Death." Taylor and the rest of his band announced the next award, the Paul Gray Best Bassist Award, named in honor of their late bandmate who died of a drug overdose in 2010. Winner Nikki Sixx returned to the stage to collect the statuette.
The Golden God Award, given to an individual who personifies "the spirit of hard rock/metal," went to a surprisingly heartfelt and appreciative Gene Simmons. "This is electric church, baby. We do it for you. Without you, all of us are nothing," he declared, perfectly encapsulating the camaraderie of the metal community.
Fellow '70s hard rock stalwart Alice Cooper brought out the next act, L.A. glamsters Black Veil Brides. The King of Shock Rock was a fine choice, as BVB are basically a crappy 2010s version of what Cooper was doing 40 years ago. Lead singer Andrew Biersack rolled around on stage like an idiot, and the music sounded like Mötley Crüe minus hooks, plus a lot of distortion. The tattooed fivesome caterwauled through a couple of tracks before Dee Snider showed up to whip them into shape on Twister Sister classic "I Wanna Rock." Biersack addressed the jeering members of the crowd thusly: "Half of you think we're emo faggots. We don't give a fuck what you think. Blog about how fucking gay we are."
Tenacious D appeared to present the Ronnie James Dio Lifetime Achievement Award to Canadian prog-rockers Rush. Sadly, only drummer Neil Peart was on hand to accept, but his compatriots thanked the crowd via tape. Former Guns 'N' Roses bassist Duff McKagan handed out the Riff Lord statuette to his old buddy and bandmate Slash. It was never explained how "Riff Lord" differs from "Best Guitarist," but Slash is deserving nonetheless.
The crowd went wild for Evanescence, who released their first new album in five years in 2011. Vocalist Amy Lee showed off her pipes in spectacular fashion, proving that she deserved her Best Vocalist nod. The group's melodramatic, keyboard-laced rock has changed little over the years, but why mess with what works? Lemmy Kilmister of Motörhead and '80s sex goddess Lita Ford got together to welcome Slash back to perform with vocalist Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators.
It truly is a privilege to see Slash wail in person, and his 11-second "moment of noise" in tribute of recently deceased guitar amplifier pioneer Jim Marshall was a nice touch. Slash and co.'s last track was the icing on the cake, however. Alice Cooper came out for a fist-pumping "School's Out," demonstrating that the old guys can still teach the young rockers a thing or two. Marshall's name popped up again as corporate sponsor for Album of the Year. The 2012 winner was The Path of Totality by Korn, who were supposed to be in the house for a performance, but canceled due to sickness. Lone band attendee Ray Luzier thanked the crowd on their behalf.
The most poignant moment of the evening came when surprise guest Damien Echols of the West Memphis Three appeared to introduce final performer Marilyn Manson. Echols, finally off Arkansas' death row after 18 years, detailed how Manson and others in the metal community literally saved his life. "I just want to say, 'Thank you' to everyone who gave their love and support over the years. It really did keep me alive."
Marilyn Manson's set was short on regular musicians, but long on star power. He had female backing vocal help from Gossip Girl star Taylor Momsen, also known for fronting rock band the Pretty Reckless. The topper came on set closer "The Beautiful People," as Manson, Momsen and crew were joined on guitar by Johnny Depp.
The crowd, already wildly cheering and singing along, went into an absolute frenzy. The song and night ended triumphantly, as drumsticks and water bottles flew into the crowd, whose screaming finally drowned out the feedback of the redlined PA speakers. It wasn't always pretty, but the Golden Gods Awards ceremony was a welcome reminder of the continued vitality of heaviness in the modern music scene.
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Personal Bias: I am not what you would call a "serious metalhead."
The Crowd: Serious metalheads.
Overheard in the Crowd: "FUCK YOU!" (every time Chris Jericho came to the mic).
Random Notebook Dump: I was somewhat relieved when they announced that most of Korn did not show up.