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Forgotten Hard Rock Albums: Piledriver, "Metal Inquisition" (1985)

I've been an obsessed hard rock/heavy metal fan and collector since the early 1980s. If it's got a good guitar riff and attitude, I'm in.


Piledriver, "Metal Inquisition"

Cobra Records (Canada), 1984

HME Records (USA), 1985

I was a pimply high school freshman in 1985, with no girlfriend, no car, and no job. I wasn't one of the "cool kids," but I was definitely one of the heavy metal kids. The highlight of my week came each Friday night, when our local rock radio station broadcast the "Metal Mania" program from midnight to 3 a.m, showcasing the newest, most obnoxious sounds from the then-exploding heavy metal underground. "Metal Mania" introduced me to such now-legendary names as Loudness, Accept, W.A.S.P., and Armored Saint, and their playlists served as my record-buying guide on a weekly basis. After hearing these bands for the first time on "Metal Mania" on Friday night, I'd rush to the Sam Goody store at the mall first thing on Saturday morning to blow my allowance money on their albums.

Thrash Metal was just beginning to rise from the underground in '85. Metallica was well known among the hardcore headbanger fraternity, but they were a few years away from becoming big time mega-stars. Ditto for their compatriots in Exodus, Anthrax, Slayer, and Megadeth. I was hip to all of of these bands at the time, as well as Overkill, Metal Church, Mercyful Fate, and countless others, but one fateful night "Metal Mania" played a track by a mysterious new band called Piledriver. The song was called "Metal Inquisition" and amidst a backdrop of buzz-saw guitars and unhinged, screeching vocals, came this now-classic refrain that hooked me immediately:

"If you're not a metalhead you might as well be dead!

Weeeeee're the Metal Inquisition... we sentence you to guillotine!"

The "death!" was punctuated by the sound of a falling guillotine blade, which just made the whole thing even cooler. I was sold! I had to hear more from this band.

"Metal Inquisition"

My headbanger friends and I always discussed the past weekend's Metal Mania show at school on Monday morning... and that particular week, everyone was raving about "that guillotine song!" One of my buddies ran off to the record store and bought Piledriver's Metal Inquisition LP, causing the rest of us to "oooh" and "ahhh" with jealousy.

For a bunch of 14 year olds, the cover to Metal Inquisition appeared to be the image of Heavy Metal Incarnate, with its unforgettable photo of The Piledriver -- a hulking dude clad in a leather-and-spikes S&M outfit, complete with mask, using a Flying V guitar to jackhammer some luckless poser to death against a backdrop of Marshall amps. My pal generously offered to record the album onto a cassette tape for me, as was the custom at the time, since we were all perennially broke teenagers -- if one of us bought an album, we'd make copies for the rest of our gang; then the next time another member of the group would make an album purchase and spread it around to the rest. If memory serves, he recorded the soundtrack to "This is Spinal Tap" on the flip side of that tape. Many years later it would occur to me that Spinal Tap was the perfect companion piece to Metal Inquisition and its heady Canadian brew of over the top guitar histrionics, offensive-on-purpose lyrical content and vocals that seemed to come from the depths of Hell itself.

"Sex With Satan"

"Witch Hunt...We're Goin' on a Witch Hunt!"

Though the title track was far and away the best song on Metal Inquisition, the rest of the tracks were not slouches either. Every groove of the LP overflowed with pounding bravado and ear-splitting guitar abuse perfect for shaggy 14-year-olds to head-bang along with.

The lyrics were hilariously macho, gory-to-the-extreme comic book nonsense about alien invaders marauding their way across Earth ("Alien Raid"), sentencing witches to violent deaths ("Witch Hunt"), and of course, that awesome title track, which praised all things METAL and warned anyone into disco or country music that they were going to get their asses royally kicked.

Eventually my brother and I obtained our own copy of Metal Inquisition and pretty much played it to death. We were sure that Piledriver would soon rise to the status enjoyed by underground heroes like Metallica and Slayer and we dreamed of seeing the band live one day so we could worship at the altar of "The Pile." Unfortunately, it never happened. Piledriver stuck around for one more album, 1986's Stay Ugly, and then seemingly disappeared off the face of the earth, leaving only the stench of brimstone behind them.

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Several years later a college friend scored an original Canadian pressing of Metal Inquisition (on the Canuck "Cobra Records" label) and I was surprised to learn that it contained two tracks that weren't on the U.S. version I owned (released on the obscure "HME Records")—"Sex With Satan" and "Sodomize the Dead" were replaced by "Devil's Lust" and "Twister" on my tape. I also learned that one of my favorite tracks, known as "Alien Raid" on my copy, was actually titled "Alien Rape," according to the Canadian pressing. Presumably the U.S. label made these changes rather than invite controversy from the PMRC, which was making lots of noise about "demonic" heavy metal music in the halls of Congress at the time.

Gord (Piledriver) Kirchin also performed vocals on "Go Ahead...Make My Day!" by Convict (1985). "Stay Ugly" was released in 1986

Gord (Piledriver) Kirchin also performed vocals on "Go Ahead...Make My Day!" by Convict (1985). "Stay Ugly" was released in 1986

The Shocking Revelations!!!

By the late 1990s, metal fanzines and web sites began to wonder, "Whatever happened to Piledriver, anyway?" When journalists tried to hunt down the band members for interviews, Metaldom at Large learned that Piledriver had never really been a "band" at all, but a studio creation assembled by Cobra Records to cash in on the burgeoning thrash-metal craze. The Metal Inquisition tracks were whipped up by Leslie Howe and Louise Reny, a pair of Canadian musicians who then called in a young singer named Gord Kirchin, with whom they'd previously jammed in a band called "Mainstream," to provide vocals for their pre-existing songs.

Kirchin also supplied vox for another fictitious "band" on Cobra Records -- Convict, whose Go Ahead...Make My Day! was also released in 1985. Aside from Gord on vocals, the only other "member" of Convict was studio musician Conrad Taylor.

The second Piledriver album, 1986's Stay Ugly, continued this arrangement. Though a new lineup of (bogus) musicians were listed in the album's credits, the songs on Stay Ugly were written and performed by David DeFeis and Edward Pursino of Long Island, New York power-metal band Virgin Steele, with Kirchin once again providing vocals. In spite of these revelations, the band and their albums had already achieved Cult Classic status.

"Human Sacrifice"

The Return of the Pile!!

Sadly, the two Piledriver albums have been out of print for many years. They were "re-issued" on CD several times during the 1990s and '00s in poor quality bootleg form, and even those discs have become pricey collector's items.

After Piledriver, Gord Kirchin kicked around the Canadian metal scene in a number of bands, most notably Dogs With Jobs and SOFA-Q, before obeying The Voice of the Cult and re-forming his most famous project. With a slight name change to "The Exalted Piledriver" and fronting an all new lineup, Kirchin released the first new Piledriver material in nearly 20 years in 2005 with the demo tape Metal Manifesto, followed by 2008's studio album of the same name. Piledriver played its first-ever live shows (!) in their native Canada at that time and made several appearances at European metal festivals. The re-branded Piledriver released a live disc in 2011 called Night of the Unpolished Turd, proving that they were still alive and kickin' and just as sick as ever.

According to a recent post on The Exalted Piledriver's official Facebook page, Metal Inquisition will receive a WAY overdue official re-release on Shadow Kingdom Records in May 2022. The album will be available on vinyl (in several colors), cassette, and CD, so if you missed out on it the first time, here is your chance to finally own this genuine cult classic!

© 2012 Keith Abt


Keith Abt (author) from The Garden State on November 08, 2017:

Thanks for the kind words n' corrections, Sir Piley! Tis an honor to have the High Priest of the Metal Inquisition himself stop by! I will make the appropriate edits ASAP!

OlPiley on November 08, 2017:

Hails Keith! Excellent article, thank you for the kind words, you warm my black heart! While I thought we got most of the iffies in check, there are a few that remain.. and firstly, one that truly needs fixing. The Convict 'Go Ahead... Make My Day' album was not written or conceived by Leslie and Louise. It was one Conrad Taylor who wrote and performed the studio tracks and I was brought in to sing on it. Most interestingly, the two tracks on Metal Inquisition that were balked at by the US distros weren't actually mere Convict leftovers. WeaselDick the RecordWeasel had them recorded specifically to replace the offending ditties. Stupidity. Like no-one would notice the completely different writing and production. Also, you mentioned the PMRC hearings! Piledriver lyrics were read into American congressional record in those hearings by Rev. Jeff Ling.. you can find them in transcripts of the hearings. This to me was one of the highlights of all my Piledriver achievements, haha! And, yes, the High Priest of The Metal Inquisition still struts out the ugliness for fans of fun metal. We just yesterday got home from an epic tour of Brazil and boy are my spikes tired.. and bloodied. Okay.. a bit rusty too, haha

Check out my facebook pages for pics n' vids!

Thanks again for the excellent exposition, Keith! Yer da goods!

Keith Abt (author) from The Garden State on June 10, 2014:

Updated! Thanks to The Exalted Piledriver himself, who provided some clarifications about the band's history via Facebook!!

Keith Abt (author) from The Garden State on May 26, 2014:

Hi Skipp - very cool, I found Piledriver's FB page recently and it looks like the band is playing some Euro metal festivals this summer. Good to know that they're still kicking!

Skipp Purgatory on May 26, 2014:

I was into it as a youngster,metal was new back then and awesome in every way! A whole bunch of years later,ive had the pleasure of getting to know Gord,via facebarf,and hes a cool great guy,and he also sent me a sighed Metal manafesto album that totally smokes,that metal is as good as any metal!

Keith Abt (author) from The Garden State on June 13, 2012:

Glad you enjoyed it, francis5k! Thanks for checking it out! \m/ right back at ya!

francis5k on June 13, 2012:

what a heavy article! very informative dude good job! keep it up! \m/

Keith Abt (author) from The Garden State on May 14, 2012:

The album cover does make me think of the famous line in This Is Spinal Tap... "There's such a fine line between stupid and clever?"

mannyalice on May 14, 2012:

I avoided this album because the cover was so stupid, but if I ever see this album, I am going to pick it up.

FreedomMetal from Somewhere In Time on May 14, 2012:

LOL!!!! Yeah, my 15 year old self would have loved the music

Keith Abt (author) from The Garden State on May 14, 2012:

Thanx Freedom - be sure to click the YouTube samples so you can experience their twisted genius for yourself. Haha!

FreedomMetal from Somewhere In Time on May 14, 2012:

I have never actually heard Piledriver - I have heard of them, but never heard the album.

Great hub BTW!

Keith Abt (author) from The Garden State on May 14, 2012:

Hahahahaha, "The Lone Rager!" Wow, that brings back some memories. Thanks for stopping by, Shawn.

Shawn D. on May 14, 2012:

I remember seeing this album at the record store back in '85, the cover was SO stupid that it turned me off even then. LOL. And I had records by Exciter in my collection...we all know how "classic" their early album covers were. LOL.

Freddy, next up you need to track down "The Lone Rager" and see how his heavy metal rap this is treating him nowadays.

Keith Abt (author) from The Garden State on May 13, 2012:

Glad you dug it Georgie... I wish you luck in finding a Piledriver album at an affordable price, cuz they're fairly expensive collectibles nowadays...

Georgie Lowery from North Florida on May 13, 2012:

I was a freshman in 1985 too. I do not know why, but I don't remember Piledriver! We had a radio station out of Richmond, VA that played metal on Thursday nights at midnight, though. Those are some good memories. I can remember the first time I heard Metallica (Leper Messiah) and I got my love of Anthrax and W.A.S.P. from XL102 also. Long live metal! Now I better go and get me a copy of a Piledriver record so that I won't catch a nasty case of the guillotines.

Great hub!

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