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When Piledriver’s debut album »Metal Inquisition« was released on Cobra Records in 1985, it was instantly hailed as a thrash metal masterpiece by a hard core of fans all around the world. Little did the public know at the time that Piledriver was the brainchild of a certain Zoran Busic, owner of Cobra Records, to cash in on the burgeoning thrash metal fad. In Gordon Kirchin from Toronto he found a partner, who was organizing the entire project and took over lead vocals himself.

By 1986, it was time for the second Piledriver album to be recorded. It was christened »Stay Ugly«. Apart from Kirchin handling lead vocals once again, the line-up was totally different. Control of the project had been handed over to no other than legendary Virgin Steele singer David DeFeis. The little big man explains: “The drummer on »Stay Ugly« was a childhood friend of mine named Rob Esposito. He lived on my block two houses down from my house. He lives in Florida now but we still speak every week, and he is still playing drums and sounding great! And the bass player was another musician friend from my hometown that I grew up with named Mike Paccione. I was in my very first band Phoenix with Mike when I was eleven years old … so we also go way back musically speaking. Rob and Mike had a band together for years on Long Island and they carried on playing together in groups down in Florida as well, because Mike moved down there too!”

“The gentleman, a chap named Gordon, who sang the vocals on Piledriver, liked Virgin Steele,” continues David DeFeis, “and was interested in having us write a track or two for another Piledriver album, and we ended up writing everything for that album. We got along great with Gordon. I had sent him a cassette tape with me doing all the vocals for the songs, so he could learn his parts. We flew him from Canada into JFK airport, Edward and I picked him up in my Camaro, took him to the studio … settled in … he laid down his tracks and we drove him back to the airport later that same day! Then we went back to the studio and finished the album. »Stay Ugly« was recorded in the same studio on Long Island where we recorded the first Virgin Steele album. It took two days to record and mix it. On day one we laid down all the music with me doing the guide vocals and conducting the group, and on day two we added all the vocals and began mixing.”

David DeFeis not only produced the album (under the pseudonym of “The Lion”), he was also responsible for the songwriting (as “Sal Gibson”). “The pseudonyms were my own creation,” reveals the Virgin Steele vocalist. “I did a similar thing for the Exorcist and Original Sin albums. ‘The Lion’ has always been a nickname for me because of my roaring! That moniker has been used on Virgin Steele releases as well. To me the name Sal Gibson just seemed like a name for someone who would be in a band called Piledriver.” Regarding songwriting fellow Virgin Steele musician Edward Pursino, who also played guitar on the record, gave David a helping hand: “Yes, Edward and I wrote songs together for the album and he did play all the guitar parts on that album. I remember that during the recording we were using two Marshall heads together for the guitar sound, and things got so hot that we melted the tubes in one of them!”

As a world class lead singer David did feel tempted to lay down some vocals tracks for »Stay Ugly« himself: “I did. That’s me doing the vocal on the song ‘The Warning’, and both Edward and I sang/howled background vocals on many of the tracks. I also did all those weird synth sound effects and such.“

Acording to David DeFeis, with songs like “Lord Of Abominations”, “Flowers Of Evil” and “The Executioner” the principle aim for »Stay Ugly« was to go totally over the top: “Yes, to be wild, metal thrashing nuts and to conjure the mood and the feelings that I always got from crazy stories by horror writers like H.P. Lovecraft, Robert Bloch, August Derleth, etc., or insane horror movies like ‘Reanimator’, ‘Friday The 13th’ or the ’Halloween’ movies.”

In this regard, the Piledriver project was similar to Exorcist (and to a lesser degree to Original Sin): “All three have different roots, but essentially they evolved from thinking, being inspired, exploring ideas and jamming. All three of those albums were written very quickly. We wanted to investigate different styles, different sounds, different tunings and such and on those albums that is exactly what we did.” “Piledriver and Exorcist are both thrash oriented albums,” continues DeFeis, “but that’s about it. Piledriver was more ‘tongue in cheek”’ oriented, whereas Exorcist was more serious both musically and lyrically…although a certain sense of humour was also maintained for that album as well. The lyrics I wrote for the Piledriver album were more akin to the atmosphere/mood of something like an H.P. Lovecraft story, with creatures from another dimension, bizarre monsters and such while Exorcist reflected my lifelong interest in the Salem Witchcraft Trials of 1692.”

“Some people took it quite seriously,” describes David DeFeis the reaction of the metal public back in 1986, “and others not so much. Rumours spread about this and that as rumours always do … but no one really knew the truth of anything because we never discussed it. It was quite easy to stay silent about the origins of Piledriver because once we finished with the album, we had our own work to do with Virgin Steele, and were quite busy discussing that with the press, promoting »Noble Savage«, doing gigs … writing other tracks. We carried on with our main event. Piledriver was a nice little extra project for us. It was creative, fun and we explored various different avenues.”

The secret about Piledriver was revealed sometimes in the mid-2000’s, knows David DeFeis, for him Piledriver and Exorcist weren’t just a hoax: “We took what we did quite seriously and tried to craft something that was creative, interesting, solid, and well constructed … strange but musical. Some people found that second Piledriver album to be too musical! I guess those people liked the first one better. I am glad and I am honoured and proud that people are still interested in all those albums.”

1. The Incubus
2. Metal Death Racer
3. The Fire God
4. Chaos
5. The Warning
6. The Lord of Abominations
7. Flowers of Evil
8. The Executioner
(The Brutally Hideous Version) 1-8
(The Monstrously Vile Version) 9-16

Product Details
Band Piledriver
Format CD
Year 2022
Packaging Type / Attributes Jewel Case
Number of Discs 2

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Price in reward points: 1600
  • Stock: Sold Out
  • Reward Points: 8
  • Catalog Number: HRR 833CD
  • Weight: 0.20kg