August 23rd saw the second year of the prestigious Heavy Music Awards descend upon at London’s famed KOKO venue, celebrating the best and loudest in heavy for the past year. And BG were there to witness all of it!

KOKO began life back in 1900 as a theatre, and it’s retained the intriguing architecture, both inside and out of those days which makes attending any musical event as is what primarily occurs there today, truly a memorable experience. I believe that as different and majestic it is to attend as an audience member and watch from the floor or one of the balcony’s, to perform there and subsequently cast your eyes all around the grandiose venue must be really something else. I don’t doubt either that the nature of the venue draws more of a theatrical performance out of those that do get to grace the stage, as was true of each band this night.

Heavy Music Awards KOKO

Kicking off the evening were instrumental outfit from Kent known as Coldbones, who did a great job of setting the tone for the evening, with their progressive, weighty and definitely very loud set that warmly harmonised the ears of all inside! 

Following a bit of a break to let people’s ears ring and take in the set they’d just witnessed, up stepped Black Peaks who quite frankly, weren’t there to idly let the night pass them by. They fully seized this opportunity with a serenading performance; demonstrating their unique blend of progressive and hard rock with lots of gutsy bloodcurdling screams from front-man Will Gardner After gaining mass acclaim from their 2016 album ‘Statues‘ and touring it extensively, they are dropping new anticipated project ‘All That Divides‘ in October – and touring the UK again – if nothing else, their set this evening has amped up my excitement for hearing the album and catching a tour date, to witness them in full capacity.

Heavy Music Awards black peaks
Black Peaks tearing it up!

Again another break ensued, giving the varied mixture of artists, fans and media personnel in attendance a chance to hear themselves talk, specifically talk about how fucking great Black Peaks just were. This break also ushered in announcements of the first run of awards of the night – we have all the categories and winners at the tail-end of this piece. This break additionally provided my first encounters with artists and industry friends of the evening – I saw and spoke happily to the ever pleasant and congenial Nick from Nuclear Blast (hey Nick!), then spotted Erik Bickerstaffe (what’s up dude!) who is responsible for much of Loathe’s brutal guitar dexterity and melodic hooks so exchanged pleasantries and I commiserated Erik about Loathe unfortunately missing out on the title for ‘Best UK Breakthrough Band‘ to which he chirpily proffered about next year; it was one thing to be attending an event like this, but to speak with familiar faces of such people was just fucking awesome. Then I bumped into my dawg Joe (who was characteristically donning a Dua Lipa tshirt – hi Joe!), also from Nuclear Blast; who launched into a conversation with me about Denzel Curry’sTA13OO‘ album which we both adore, and I thought how novel a conversation that was to be having in a venue full of heavy metal artists and advocates, haha!

That was all cool and conversations I could muster, then when sat on a really comfy leather seat away from the madness with my girlfriend for a couple of minutes, Sam Carter walked past me – literally a foot away from me (Ali Dean was stood right behind me for a portion of minutes too when awards were being announced!) and I was hit with a direct injection straight to the dome of being madly starstruck. Sam fucking Carter!!! I mean I knew there would be big artists and some of my heroes here but still when you come so close to encountering someone as so, it is a lot to take in, so I thank my girlfriend for calming me down haha.

Such calming and waiting for drinks amid navigating the then immensely busy KOKO meant we missed watching a fair chunk of Milk Teeth, but we certainly still heard all of it. They are a band I confess I’m not too familiar with but still were great to listen to as they proved themselves very worthy and rung strongly through the cranked up KOKO speakers.

The moment I’d been most excited about since learning I was to be attending the HMAs was finally upon us after another batch of awards announced: The Fever333 taking to the stage. Having been a fan of letlive. for many years and being fully aware of the insane energy exhibited by Jason Aalon Butler as a trademark of his live performances, I knew this was gonna be special and I was absolutely right.

Delivering their chaotic, fantastic, politically charged barrage of a set demonstration with one or two moments of Jason talking to us about the state of the world, discrimination and London’s rising knife-crime problem I was totally enthralled. Living up to reputation, Jason launched into the middle of the crowd after about five minutes of performing to really get amongst us lucky bastards, then a minute later he popped up on the mid-level balcony and moved to stand right by the sound and visual operating booth. This was outdone at the end of their performance by guitarist Stevis Harrison who was stood iconically at the end of this booth, leaving everyone thinking the same thing – fuck me was that good. I mean it’s not as if I needed reminding, but the one thing I took away from this night more than any other, is how much I love live music, and how powerful this can be.

Stevis made his own stage!

The winners of the various Heavy Music Awards of the night are as follows:

Best UK Breakthrough Band: Milk Teeth

Best Festival: Hellfest Open Air

Best International Breakthrough Band: Knocked Loose

Best Album Artwork: Sikth – ‘The Future In My Eyes‘ by Meats Meier

Best Producer: Will Putney

Best Live Band: Gojira

Best International Band: Metallica

Best UK Band: Architects

Best Album: While She Sleeps – ‘You Are We

All in all, it really was a great night – props to Andy Pritchard for pulling the strings and making the event a reality. Thank you, Heavy Music Awards, congratulations to yourselves and all the bands winning and performing on behalf of BG and I will hopefully be there for the madness this time next year!

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