Just another Monday night in this beloved little town by the river Thames we call London and I find myself walking towards the O2 along with thousands of Kings of Leon fans, but unlike the devoted hordes of the brothers Followill who in a few minutes time will have transformed the main arena into a seething mass of Topshop and Topman rejects, I am headed into the much smaller confines of the IndigO2 along with my fellow black-clad metal brethren to delight in the spectacle that is the Metal Hammer Golden God Awards.

After a brief stop at the upstairs guest bar where it would be just plain rude to turn down a couple of free jäger shots, I grab a drink and take my seat at the balcony overlooking both the stage and the eager metalheads below. On comes the emcee, some American dude with enough politically incorrect banter to get both himself and me killed and quartered at a feminist convention; him for saying it, me for laughing at it. And then, it is time…time for Saxon.

When an awards show starts off with a four-song set from the likes of Saxon you know you’re in for a good time, and they fucking rocked man! Guitarist Paul Quinn still shreds like a mutherbitch and I’d just like to state for the record that I’d very much like to adopt vocalist Biff Byford as my Grandfather (no offense to either of my actual Grandfather’s, may they rest in peace).

With “Saxon” chants still ringing in our ears, Devildriver take to the stage and deliver a brutal three-song set with ferociously focused aplomb, main man Dez Fafara obliterating any residual issues I may have had regarding atrocities committed with his former band Coal Chamber.

The first round of awards sees the Best New Band Award go to Five Finger Death Punch and Roadrunner Records walk away with Best Metal Label, accepted by the lovely lads from Machine Head who, as well as waxing lyrical about the label’s finer points, don’t fail to mention how Roadrunner actually dropped them at one stage. Nice one boys! Behemoth win Best Underground Band, followed by the Spirit of Hammer Award going to Saxon, and after a cool mini video tribute to the late, great Dimebag Darrell, his girlfriend Rita Haney presents Herman Li and Sam Totman of Dragonforce with the Dimebag Shredder Award. No surprise Download take out Best Event, accepted by festival organizer Andy Coppell and Steel Panther, before an absent Joe Eliot accepts Def Leppard’s Legend Award via a pre-recorded video.

Everyone’s favourite underdog’s Anvil entertain the crowd with a few little old-school metal ditties before the second round of awards see Amon Amarth deservedly win for Breakthrough Band, Lamb of God not surprisingly win Best Album for “Wrath”, and Anvil welcomed back to the stage with rapturous applause to be bestowed with the awesome Metal as Fuck Award. Speaking of metal as fuck, the legendary Cronos from seminal extreme metal band Venom presents Ihsahn from Emperor with the Inspiration Award to the absolute delight of all present, the aural approval of the crowd only dying down briefly before who else but Steve Fucking Vai is declared the Riff Lord.

A metal award show in 2009 would not be complete without Slipknot receiving something, even if you just had to make up some random award to give them because, amongst other reasons, it would be so very wrong after an evening which saw Def Leppard donned Legends for the Des Moinian masked ones to be left empty-handed. Fitting then they take out both the Best International Band and Best Live Act Awards, accepting them via video since they’re currently on tour in Europe and, for a band who pride themselves on their live shows and hold a deep appreciation for their devoted maggots, obviously well chuffed at winning the latter in particular.

Before we know it it’s time for the last award of the evening, UK Best Band and Golden Gods, and who better to give it to, who more deserving, than Iron Maiden? Fuck yeah! I am relieved to notice I’m not the only person so humbled by the presence on stage of Bruce & Co. that I’m reduced to a “Wayne’s World we’re not worthy” moment, bowing down before these most influential of metal giants, all of us happy to temporarily bask in their mighty shadows.

With the award section of the evening complete all that’s left is for Trivium to work everyone into a brief but convincing frenzy. I wouldn’t call myself a huge fan of these young lads from Florida but they certainly get props for sheer energy and enthusiasm and their four-song set is tight, thrashy and, as much as I hate to admit it, by the end I’ve definitely warmed towards them just a tad, although a drunken vocal cameo by Robb Flynn could potentially make me warm towards any band as my judgment becomes a little questionable when that rugged beast of a man is involved.

All in all a fantastic night that, although judging by the copious amounts of alcohol consumed by most present probably won’t be remembered by many in overwhelming detail, puts most awards shows to shame by slaying typical conventions, pretense and pomposity in favour of a balls-out wicked party celebrating metal’s finest. Cheers Metal Hammer! Same place next year then?