Heavy Music Awards 2017
House Of Vans, London
24th August 2017
The heavy music scene has always been an excitingly creative one, eclectic and diverse. An annual opportunity to acknowledge the skills, talents, and output, outside of a couple of festivals, has been noticeably missing: until now in the form of the Heavy Music Award. Louder Than War’s Katie Clare went along to see if this was just another yawn filled award ceremony or if is this like the heavy music scene is offering something different.
This is the inaugural year of the Heavy Music Awards and whether your heavy is metal, rock, punk, goth or one of a whole host of genre’s sliced, diced and meshed together that could come under the remit ‘heavy’ for you the door is open. The shortlisted nominees boast an eclectic and diverse wealth of talent from some of the most successful acts and events in the past year; in some cases many years. In the interests of, as always at Louder Than War, full disclosure, we asked HMA for accreditation – twice; they never replied. Sometimes fortune favours those that actively exercises resourcefulness and as such access was honestly secured to this invite only event – phew! Despite that ‘invite only’ guest list you’d be wrong to think these awards are only voted on by those entrenched in the industry. Not true, no not at all. You and I – the very public that exchanges our hard-earned moolah for the records, festivals, and gigs – had a say in which of the nominees would take home the 4.3kg metallic red tower awards in some categories.
House of Vans is an inspired venue for this awards event, the interconnecting spaces gave light and depth to the evening. Offering chances to interact, converse as well as be entertained. Entering we’re welcomed by the splendid guys at Cloven Hoof, with one of their warming spicy rum laced drinks this immediately setting a celebratory feel to the event.
Kerrang! Radio and oft Scuzz TV presenters Alex Baker and Sophie K are our hosts tonight, as well as introducing the live performances and despite the latter’s earlier belief they “stressed everyone in rehearsal out by pronouncing bands wrong.” preceding went by without major drama in a relaxed and comfortable manner.
Kicking things off in terms of live performances tonight was Southampton’s Dead!. The five-piece band has been somewhat hit and miss in terms of output. However, live it’s a different matter. The combination of the whole band’s energy, singer Alex Mountford’s distinctive vocals, and Sam Matock’s stratospherically immense performance meant that they truly delivered a stunning opening. Despite the early time slot, some tech niggles and their dodgy My Generation cover they had those in ‘stage’ section of House of Vans genuinely engaging.
Safe Gigs For Women were in attendance and we were able to speak briefly with founder Tracey about the importance of their work with venues, promoters, and artists; as well as empowering gig attendees in the continuing struggle to stop sexual assault and harassment at live music events. There was a fun House of Vans photo booth in which we managed to snap almost none of our faces, blaming the low seat and not the delicious Clove Hoof rum we were enjoying.
VUKOVI explode on the stage like a glitter canon; powerful, colourful with a sonic punch. Almost immediately it becomes near impossible not to be hypnotised by singer Janine Shilston, you kind of have to force yourself back into the music which becomes somewhat muted, with her strong stage presence. VUKOVI’s experimentalism alt-rock is very well crafted, is lyrically very dexterous and manages to gain an edginess live that is very appealing especially with that added fierceness in the guitar and drums.
The award presentations are not artificially elongated but succinct and remained interesting as various guest presenter joined the hosts to announce the successful. Creepers’ Will Gould and Ian Miles handed the Best Venue Award (presented by Scuzz TV) to 02 Brixton Academy. Larissa Stupar from Venom Prison, The Architects and Download Festival’s Andy Copping also handed out awards. The Best Album Award (presented by EMP) went to Architects for All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us the band emotionally dedicating the win to band member Tom Searle who sadly lost his battle with cancer just a year ago. While all categories and winners are listed below some other notable wins tonight included Best Album Artwork (presented by The Pit) was won by Ghost for Popestar, Best Festival (presented by Jackson Guitars) won by Download Festival and The H Award presented in recognition for a positive contribution to the heavy music scene was posthumously awarded to photographer Ashley Maile, his wife Caroline, sister Carly and friend Paul Harries poignantly accepting the award on his behalf.
The third beyond outstanding performance tonight was from Venom Prison providing one hell of a remarkable vocal performance from Larissa Stupar. Delivering a performance emboldened by an exceptional serrated roar that brought a new vibe to death metal. While skillful and polished musically each track retained a brutal ferocity that was perfectly amplified in the arch vault like House of Vans setting. This was from start to finish a top-class demonstration of how extreme music can be presented to display its many intense layers.
Back from nearly two months in the USA playing on Warped, a tour which has crumbled many a soul, however, Creeper look not fresh but utterly gleeful and rather than phoning in a few songs in play a very comprehensive ten song set with jubilant zeal. A powerhouse trio sets things off Black Rain, Poison Pens and Black Mass. They seem to zip by at rocket speed. Valentine goes into, surprisingly Darling. Darling had its live premiere overseas tonight for the first time finally getting an airing in the UK. Joyful squealing at this new addition is put to one side as the anthemic Down Below urgently requires every voice on the front rows really embellish its theatrical leanings. As quick as a flick of Will’s hair Creeper have burnt through Suzanne, Hiding With Boys and Astral Projection and we are at the conclusion we know it to be. Darkly alluring, twistingly angsty the lament that is Misery soundtracks the ending which ascents then fades as the band disappears from the stage.
The awards have all been presented, all the bands have played what is a celebration to do next; hit up the after party. Hosted by UPRAWR the after party is another chance to mingle and converse whether this was with your favourite drummer, guitarist or someone who’s name you never did get but who told you absolutely the worst jokes in absolutely the very best way – which ever it was it really didn’t matter a wonderful time was had and it was the perfect way to round off a marvelous night.
Thank you, Heavy Music Awards.
Special thanks to RoadRunner Records.
The Heavy Music Awards 2017 Winners In Full
BEST FESTIVAL presented by Jackson Guitars
BEST ALBUM presented by EMP
Architects – All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us (Epitaph / Producers: Fredrik Nordström + Henrik Udd)
BEST UK BAND presented by UPRAWR
BEST INTERNATIONAL BAND presented by PPL
BEST LIVE BAND presented by Eagle Rock Entertainment
BEST BREAKTHROUGH BAND presented by House of Vans London
BEST ALBUM ARTWORK presented by The Pit
Ghost – Popestar (Zbigniew M Bielak)
BEST PRODUCER presented by Believe
Fredrik Nordström & Henrik Udd
BEST PHOTOGRAPHER presented by Olympus
BEST VENUE presented by Scuzz
O2 Academy, Brixton