PILEDRIVER — Stay Ugly

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PILEDRIVER - Stay Ugly cover
3.25 | 2 ratings | 1 review
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Album · 1986

Filed under Speed Metal
By PILEDRIVER

Tracklist

1. The Incubus (3:57)
2. Metal Death Racer (3:24)
3. The Fire God (3:45)
4. Chaos (3:53)
5. The Warning (0:52)
6. The Lord of Abominations (3:10)
7. Flowers of Evil (4:29)
8. The Executioner (5:00)

Total Time: 28:30

Line-up/Musicians

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Stay UglyStay Ugly
Kraze Records 2016
$8.61
$9.78 (used)
Metal Inquisition / Stay UglyMetal Inquisition / Stay Ugly
Full Moon Productions 1998
$149.99 (used)
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PILEDRIVER STAY UGLY reviews

Specialists/collaborators reviews

voila_la_scorie
It’s a funny thing because I can remember seeing both Piledriver album covers advertised in Metallion magazine back in the eighties. But at the time I had become a little disillusioned by the metal scene. It seemed that there were just too many anybody bands coming along, and just by posing in leather and bullets they could somehow sell albums of run-of-the-mill music. That’s what Piledriver’s albums made me think of and they were not the only ones.

Strangely enough, as it turns out, I was not too far off base. A few weeks back, Piledriver got mentioned in something I was reading or watching, and as I could remember their album covers easily, I decided to check out more about the band. And that’s how I came to know about “metalploitation”.

The person I heard use this cockamamie term was the young fellow of Nasty Metal Productions, a U-Choob channel about metal music. The way he said, “metalploiTAtion”, emphasizing the second last syllable and spitting it out with venom, made me think he was a nutter for making up the word. However, it was not he who coined it. “Metalploitation”, however you want to say it, was a real phenomenon in the eighties, and companies like Germany’s Metal Industries and Cobra Records in the Canada are among the guilty parties. I’m sure nearly everyone knows about this sordid period in metal history but to spell it out in brief, record companies would create fake bands, usually using real artists and get them to write and record some music to help them pay off debts, and then the record companies would release the records to be sold to undiscriminating teenagers who just had to be the one to find new, exciting bands. Searching the Internet turns up dozens of hits for music blogs and U-Choob music channels.

One such band was Piledriver. As the story goes, a guitarist wanted to fund an album he wanted to record and someone suggested that he write and record a metal album and release it because metal albums could easily sell 20,000 copies, especially if they had an outrageous cover and crazy song titles. The music was written and singer Gord Kirchen was called up by his guitarist friend and asked to sing. In an interview with Gord, he explains that he got paid $250 for the job and forgot about it again, figuring the album wasn’t going anywhere anyway but at least he got his voice on some vinyl and some rent money. The album, “Metal Inquisition” was released on Cobra in Canada and Roadrunner in Europe. It was also released in the States but with some changes to the song titles and track list because the album was too dirty for American standards. One interesting note about the album cover is that the guy on the cover who is getting jackhammered by the guitar is actually wearing a band shirt with the same album cover on it. This means that a T-shirt had to be created with the album cover art on it, and then that shirt worn for the photo shoot that would be the final album cover. This couldn't have been just a simple throw away project.

A year or so later, David DeFeis of Virgin Steele got told by his manager that DeFeis owed some money. His debt would be forgotten however if he would write some albums for fake band projects. He and his guitarist, Edward Pursino, worked together on three projects: Convict, Exorcist, and Piledriver. DeFeis stated in an interview that even though Virgin Steele was his band, he always enjoyed the opportunity to be creative and so he made a serious effort at creating the material for each project. In the same interview, he claimed that Exorcist was where his best work went while Convict received the least love and not surprisingly, the album disappeared quickly. Gord Kirchen was called in to sing for the Convict and Piledriver albums. Kirchen agreed because, hey, more rent money and he could appear on two more pieces of vinyl. When the projects were completed, DeFeis and Pursino went back to work on Virgin Steele while Kirchen started a band called Dogs with Jobs. It wasn’t until nearly a decade later that Kirchen discovered that the two Piledriver albums had become underground classics. According to the Wikipedia article, the two albums together have sold over 500,000 copies worldwide! Kirchen has since revived the band under a new name, Exalted Piledriver, and has received blessings from DeFeis to continue using the material that he wrote.

That’s all for the history lesson. So now how about this Piledriver album, “Stay Ugly”? Interestingly, it gets a lot of praise. At least two U-Choobers declare this to be an awesome album and so do a few bloggers. It sits somewhere on the fence between speed metal/thrash metal and American power metal. Though different from Virgin Steele, the fact that two VS dudes wrote the album does give it more class than just any slap shod project, like the ones I read about from Metal Enterprises on THE CORROSEUM music blog. This actually does sound pretty good for the day. Lots of power, speed, and killer riffs. The lyrics are a bit dorky to listen to now. I suppose if I’d heard this when I was fifteen I might have been singing along but now at forty-seven I crave something a little more profound or inspiring. Nevertheless, this does sound like a one of the better obscure band albums of the mid-eighties.

I have two issues with this album. The first is that the CD I have sounds like it was copied from a vinyl record. Little pops and scratches can be heard. I don’t know if that’s because the re-release used a record as the master source or if it’s just because my version was copied from vinyl. I bought it through Amazon so I’d like to believe it’s an official release.

The second issue is the drumming. It not only has that echoing mid-eighties sound but for most of the album the drums just stick to keeping the beat with the snare and there are few fills, while other drums such as toms or the bass don’t stand out much if they’re being used at all. The bass guitar? I guess I’d notice it if it was not there. The overall production sounds pretty low quality, and DeFeis said that the album cost almost nothing to make. But then again so did the first Virgin Steele album and, despite some excellent songs, I always remember the sound being pretty poor on that one as well.

Other than that, “Stay Ugly” is a decent enough album for what it is. I think if it weren’t for the fact that Kirchen is Canadian, David DeFeis was involved, and the interesting background story, I wouldn’t really need this in my collection. Kirchen himself seems like a loveable guy who really believes in Piledriver. As for me, I think this is as far into metalploitation I will dip.

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