Pop & Hiss

The L.A. Times music blog

« Previous Post | Pop & Hiss Home | Next Post »

Golden Gods awards put Slayer, Ozzy, Isis and porn stars on one long black carpet (UPDATED)

April 8, 2009 |  6:13 pm

Megadeth

The idea of a heavy-metal awards show, replete with paparazzi flashbulbs and celebrity wranglers, seems a bit odd. Metal is outsiders’ music, forged in dank garages by fans for whom Motorhead’s Lemmy Kilmister is a sex object. But it’s also a competitive genre in which bands hone skills that can be quantified and graded.  The comparative merits of Coldplay versus Alison Krauss and Robert Plant are opaque; questions of which drummers can play 16th kick notes at 180 bpm are debates with answers.

The first American edition of the Revolver Golden Gods Awards, curated by metal magazine Revolver and held Tuesday night at Club Nokia in L.A. Live, attempted to settle those epochal arguments in a kind of anti-Grammys. The night’s centerpiece was a performance by L.A. thrash pioneers Megadeth alongside younger acts such as Killswitch Engage and Suicide Silence. Metal awards wounds are still raw from Jethro Tull’s unlikely 1989 Grammy win for best hard rock/metal performance over Metallica, so the Golden Gods seemed more of a codifying of metal virtues including ability, ferocity and work ethic. And, yes, finally getting a consensus pick as to the “hottest chick in metal.”


Outside Club Nokia, in the shadow of L.A. Live’s Rock'n Fish restaurant, nominated artists and presenters lumbered and posed down the "black carpet” entryway, befuddling nearby tourists asking why this Testament band warranted such hubbub.

For the fans in adjacent long-snaking lines, however, the occasion was entirely appropriate. San Franciscan Jared Johnson joined his friend Tom Tanaka of Orange County at the Golden Gods, because, as he cheekily put it, “We’re bonded by metal. That’s stronger than brotherhood.” Nineteen-year-old C.J. Munoz and 18-year-old Andrea Herreria were similarly over the moon for the young deathcore act Suicide Silence. “They’re our main band,” Herreria said, though she wouldn’t mind fixing the “hottest chick in metal” double standard in the future. “That’d be nice, the singer for Suicide Silence is one of the hottest guys in music.”

Once everyone was inside, the VIP bar (overwhelming drink of choice — Jack and Coke) became a hive of scene legends, contemporary torchbearers and the ghosts of headbangers past. “Hard times call for hard music,” said Alice in Chains singer William DuVall. “There’s a real need for catharsis out there.” Scott Ian, of the old-guard thrash act Anthrax, saw a similar cultural hole for a U.S. metal awards show to fill. “The idea of an awards show in general is kind of lame,” he said. “But now that KNAC isn’t on air, and ‘Headbangers’ Ball' isn’t on the main MTV, this is a great way to pay respect to metal.”

Some acts weren’t so sure about their place in the proceedings. “I have absolutely zero connection to so many of these bands,” said Aaron Turner of the ambient-metal act Isis, which won the award for best underground band. “Maybe we all liked Guns & Roses when we were 12. Metal’s been relegated to being the sibling that no one talks about, but some bands are really pushing what’s possible in music.” Across the bar from Turner, Dio bassist Rudy Sarzo (a onetime member of Quiet Riot, Whitesnake and Ozzy Osbourne’s band) pondered his place in the metal continuum. “It’s a river,” Sarzo said. “The reason why you play metal is because you have to do it.”

Other showgoers were simply there to bask in the proceedings. “I just came here with friends,” said adult-film star Faye Reagan. Her thoughts on the hottest metalhead today? “Probably you,” she said, generously.

The presentations and performances traded the Grammys’ self-congratulation for a generally stoked bonhomie. Testament singer Chuck Billy used triumphantly blue language to describe his fight with cancer, while Protest the Hero donned gold lamé tights to take its award for best viral video. Slayer’s Kerry King and Tom Araya were greeted as ecstatically as the pope, but a member of the metalcore act Atreyu cut his presentation short due to acidic boos. Host Brian Posehn amiably helmed the night, adding goofy self-deprecation to an otherwise bombastic evening.

Bleeding Through keyboardist Marta Peterson accepted the “hottest chick in metal” title with chagrin. “I’d like to thank my family for all those piano lessons, otherwise I’d just be another hot chick,” she said.
The live sets drew clear lines in the sand among metal fans. Suicide Silence looks to be a breakout talent with its considerable synchronized headbanging skills, whereas All That Remains elicited multiple catcalls of “Go back to Massachusetts!” 

Megadeth laudably closed the show out with deep-catalog hits, and though Dave Mustaine’s cackle may have lost an inch here and there, his fiery playing on “Holy Wars” still thrilled.

After the show, Slayer’s King fielded starry-eyed small talk from fans on the outdoor deck while members of the local schlock-rock band Steel Panther geeked out over meeting Sarzo earlier. For exhausted Revolver editor Tom Beaujour, the Golden Gods proved that metal can have genuine pageantry. “I’m generally a negative person, but this went way better than I thought,” he said. “Metal has such a fiercely loyal audience, but they laugh at Spinal Tap too.”

-- August Brown

Photo: Megadeth at the Revolver Golden Gods Awards. Credit: Stephanie Cabral / Retna

Update: this article originally misspelled Tom Araya's name.

Comments 

Advertisement










Video