Anthrax and Body Count Persecute the Loudwire Music Awards.

The success of the metal online magazine, Loudwire.com, is nearly unsurpassed and the first ever ceremony for the Loudwire Music Awards has been highly anticipated by the genre’s fans for months.  Readers of the magazine vote in each category and the winners are given a Hand of Doom trophy, modelled after the hand of legendary guitarist, Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi, who also received The Courage Award (now to be known as The Iommi) for his dedication to music while battling cancer.

The event takes place inside the tightly secured Novo Theatre in downtown Los Angeles and it also streams live on AXS television.  A small group of media gets an early walkthrough of the venue and we are blessed enough to witness the sound check for Dave Mustaine with Body Count for their performance later, a perfect way to begin an evening of metal.  By late afternoon, the black carpet begins to fill with both up-and-coming acts and metal/hard rock luminaries.  At 104 degrees, the area is just short of being on fire as more bodies pack in, but the theatrics stay intact.  Stunning costumes abound, but best dressed of the evening is Heidi Shepherd and Carla Harvey of Butcher Babies who spared no expense.  “We get to do “Cherry Bomb” with Lzzy Hale tonight!” Shepherd tells me.  The girls also remind us of their current tour with Hollywood Undead (also in attendance) and their new album Lilith, coming out Oct. 27.

Also stopping by is the multiple-award nominated band, Anthrax, where bassist Frank Bello (nominated for Best Bassist) tells us “We are so lucky to be picked to give Rob Halford the Lemmy Award tonight.”  When asked about how he feels about his own nomination, Bello says, “Well, I voted for Steve Harris, but after 30 years of doing this, people are still paying attention and that’s really something.  What else can you ask for?” I ask Joey Belladonna who else he is excited to see perform tonight and he says with a seditious grin, “I don’t know who else is performing.  I just know we are.” Between this and the suit worn by nominated drummer, Charlie Benante, Anthrax definitely wins our vote for most swagger. 

Following not far behind Anthrax was Lzzy Hale of Halestorm.  We have a long conversation about her past tours with Lita Ford, who they would be performing with later in the night.  When asked if Ford was a big influence on her growing up, she says “Oh absolutely.  We talk about that.  She loves telling me stories about The Runaways and I told her for the first time just yesterday, ‘Ya know, when I decided to be in a rock band, I had you to look at and sayOh, that’s possible’. ‘ When she was a young girl starting in a rock band there was nothing that came before her so she had to make up the rules.  I just kind of thanked her and said ‘because you didn’t quit means that it was possible for me, so thanks for still doing it’.” 

Back in the venue, cameras are set and the drinks are cold.  Chris Jericho hosts the event and rouses the crowd before introducing the opening performers, Hard Rock Artists of the Year nominee, In This Moment featuring Rob Halford.  After a dramatic version of Billy Idol’s “White Wedding”, which they changed to “Black Wedding, Maria Brink (also nominated for Best Vocalist) pushes the limits of vocal range and power with her second song “Roots”, from their latest album Ritual.  

When Ice T’s voice comes over the loudspeakers with an unapologetic sermon about the minimizing of the “Black Lives Matter” movement, most of the crowd freezes.  Then Ernie C. releases his first guitar scream as Ill Will drops a thunderous beat for Body Count, one of the generation’s most important bands for their social and political lyrics. With three nominations, including Metal Artists of the Year, Metal Song of the Year, and Metal Album of the Year, they perform “No Lives Matter”.  The crowd tightens in, heart rates rise and the first headbanging of the night begins.  The band knows they are adored in their hometown of Los Angeles as we all receive them with love and gratitude.  They follow with “Civil War”, from the same album where bassist Vince Dennis sits in a throne and screams evil chants into the microphone between moments of powerful prose and music. Dave Mustaine runs out and delivers an all too short guitar solo with Ernie C. before Ice-T does a gentle mic drop, remembering how many bands will need it after.

Nothing More delivers an intensely visual performance with their nominated Hard Rock Song of the Year,  “Go To War” and Audioslave’s “Show Me How to Live”, a tribute to the late Chris Cornell before the Lifetime Achievement Award (a.k.a. The Lemmy Award) is bestowed on Halford.  

Power Trip (Metal Artists of the Year nominee and winner of Best Song for “Executioners Tax”) delivers our welcomed punishment, especially when they perform Motorhead’s “We Are the Road Crew” with Jamey Jasta.  But, the show stealers of the night, to no one’s surprise, is Anthrax.  It’s no wonder they were nominated Best Live Band.  Benante’s speed metal drums pierce through our bodies like daggers and Scott Ian pummels us with penetrating riffs.  A mosh pit forms and Belladonna’s operatic vocals are perfectly clear, even over the absolute chaotic level of noise the band delivers with their first song “Caught in a Mosh”.  He really gets to show off vocally when they bring us back to earth (just a bit) with “Carry on Wayward Son” by Kansas.  Anthrax does the practically impossible, with what looks like such minimal effort and total joy, that it’s hard to want to hear anyone else once they leave the stage.

Metal Artist of the Year and Metal Album of the Year Award winners, Avenged Sevenfold, close the ceremony.  Best Guitarist nominee, Synyster Gates, is the first to take the stage, setting us up with an elegant solo before M. Shadows works his fans whom waited all night to see them. Originally only supposed to play a two-song set, Shadows assures his fans that they’ll be “playing til they kick us outta here”, extending the set an additional two blistering songs for his loyal fans. 

The first ever Loudwire Awards ceremony brought together some iconic names and delivered much bigger than expected.  Seeing these people in a space of their own without having to share with artists of other genres was almost mystical and Jericho was a fantastic host.  Metal and Hard Rock fans that attended had a blast, the fans got to have a voice through their votes and we all look forward to future events.  

To see all the winners, speeches and videos, visit www.loudwire.com.

In This Moment
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Judas Priest
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Body Count
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Nothing More
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Starset
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Anthrax
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Avenged Sevenfold
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Loudwire
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The Novo
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Event Date: 24-10-2017