Hard rock legends and black-clad fans crowded Club Nokia in Los Angeles Wednesday night for the third annual Revolver Golden Gods. It was the first time the heavy metal awards show sold out, due in no small part to the promised performance from beloved SoCal post-hardcore thrashers Avenged Sevenfold. The band wound up stealing the show, picking up four prizes including Best Album for their latest, 2010's Nightmare, and racking up the most devil-horns -- even while sharing a bill with the original lineup of Alice Cooper, performing in L.A. for the first time in four decades.
It was a night of big stars and high spirits. The show kicked off with Foo Fighters' Dave Grohl as court jester, walking out amid huge cheers, silently stepping to a cued-up boombox and hitting play, unleashing Justin Bieber's "Baby." As he slipped away, boos ensued, but host/pro wrestler Chris Jericho (the former wrestler, currently on Dancing with the Stars) arrived with a bright red baseball bat, and as the audience shouted "Smash it!" destroyed the thing to the thud of a double-kick drum.
"Are you ready to fucking rock and roll?" he shouted. As if he had to ask.
The presenters included Rob Zombie, Dave Navarro, Taylor Momsen of Gossip Girl and the Pretty Reckless, Ronnie James Dio's widow Wendy, and members of Black Sabbath, Alice in Chains, Metallica, and Dethklok, among others, but the doling out of awards ultimately took a back seat to the performances. Throughout, younger bands were given a chance to shine on their own, before teaming up with some of the in-house legends for a choice cover song.
Sebastian Bach dropped in to prance and perform Skid Row's "Youth Gone Wild" with English metalcore act Asking Alexandria. Denmark's Elvis-influenced Volbeat hosted Anthrax's still goateed and shredding Scott Ian for a slightly bizarre version of Dusty Springfield's "I Only Want to Be with You." Central California's DevilDriver bent their death metal prowess to a four-song tribute to Black Flag with a little help from Hatebreed's Jamey Jasta, Sepultura's Max Cavalera, and skateboarder Mike Vallely (who's got a wicked howl). And Duff McKagan's Loaded did Judas Priest's "Electric Eye" with Steve Jones on guitar and Slipknot's Corey Taylor on the mic.
But Cooper remained one of the night's most anticipated performers, and he began, as expected, with tongue planted firmly in cheek. "Rock'n'roll is not from here," he said, indicating his head. "It's from here." At which point he pointed at his pants.
But the snakes in Cooper's set weren't solely of the trouser variety: He took the stage with a boa constrictor wrapped around his neck and a mic in his hand. If there was anything strange about a 63-year-old man performing a song called "I'm Eighteen," Cooper did his best to dispel it, crowing over Glen Buxton's chugging power chords. During "School's Out" he shot a rabid, raccoon-eyed scowl up into the balcony as he recklessly stabbed the air with a sword.
By the time Avenged Sevenfold took the stage, the crowd had been whipped into a metal-fiending froth. Their roar was deafening as the spiraling guitar figures of "Nightmare" filled the smoky air, and frontman M. Shadows -- who took home the award for Best Singer -- screamed and crooned, backlit by a gigantic glowing winged skull. His vocal range rivaled some of the better-known names in the room, and the band was the tightest of the night.
And as was the night's wont, a couple of guests joined as well -- McKagan for a cover of Guns N' Roses' "It's So Easy" and Pantera drummer Vinnie Paul for a punishing take on his old band's "Mouth for War." Fan favorite "Bat Country" drew the biggest cheers, and "Beast and the Harlot" sounded positively medieval. Unfortunately, it was over all too soon.
"One more song. We're very sorry," said Shadows to audible audience grumble. Guitarist Synyster Gates jumped in: "...but we need to drink very heavily too." The rowdy crowd cheered and cheers'd to this, before thrashing mightily to "Almost Easy."