I remember there was one night when we first started practicing in 1995. We used to practice in this room called Evolution Studios in Bellevue, Washington. And I remember one night as we were practicing, everybody was playing, and the door to the practice studio was closed. And there was a little window in the door to the practice room, and I remember I was standing there and I was looking at the reflection, but I was looking at the reflection of all the band members. And I remember -- this was 1995 and nothing had happened for us yet -- and I was looking at that reflection and I thought, 'Fuck, what's ever gonna happen with this? Is this ever gonna go anywhere? We're just fuckin', a bunch of guys playing heavy music in a practice room in the middle of fucking nowhere, who cares about this?'-- Greg Bennick of Trial, Budapest, Hunagary, 2005
At this point in Trial's Reunion - Retrospective DVD, the answer is pretty obvious. Halfway across the world, in a club filled to capacity with kids dancing, singing, and sweating to the heavy hardcore of Seattle's Trial, lead vocalist Greg Bennick is a bit choked up. Even though the band -- which included two new members since the band's 1999 break -- had already played all the material they knew, the crowd stayed and listened, and a thunderous cheer erupted as Bennick went on to express his gratitude to everyone that made the experience possible, and what it meant to be part of that experience. And if that experience could ever hope to be felt by anyone outside that room on that particular night, Reunion - Retrospective is as close as you can get.
Without turning this into a 5,000-some word review, it's impossible to touch on everything worth mentioning about this band and DVD. What's even harder, when talking about Trial, is to not slip into one of those nostalgic rants about how much better hardcore was back in the day, but it's true. There are few hardcore bands since, straight-edge or not, that have been as dedicated to progressive change and actually sang and talked about it as Trial. In fact, it is the segways between songs, where Bennick is telling the stories behind the songs like the damage done by rape and sexual abuse in "Scars" and the challenge of peaceful dissidence in "War by Other Means" where he takes sole control of the microphone. The rest of the time throughout each song, he is sharing the mic with any number of the several hundred kids rolling around the audience and screaming their throats dry. And with each song, the message resonates louder. From shows in Seattle, to London and, lastly, to Budapest, the urgency of songs that are in some cases ten-years-old remain fully intact. Especially with the song "Legacy" and both its references to World War II and context of being performed in Budapest, Hungary, the words ring sharply through the audience: "From the holocausts we'd see a world in agony / 1944 through 1998: children dead at Birkenau or Tibetans laid to waste / Excuses become our legacy / Postponing introspection through denial and self-rejection / There is no inevitable oppression / We are digging our own graves."
The Reunion - Retrospective package is a monster in itself. A double-DVD set split among the reunion shows of Seattle, London, and Budapest (plus bonus features) on the first disc, and a retrospective that features shows in Warsaw, Portland, 924 Gilman and others, as well as an hour-long interview with Trial's founding members Bennick and Timm McIntosh. All in all, there's over five hours of footage and material in this DVD package, which even comes with reflective liner notes from the band.
If you're a fan of Trial, get this DVD. If you like hardcore, get this DVD. Interested in progressive issues and positive change? Straight-edge by chance? Perhaps you just like heavy music? Get it. Get it. Get it. In an age where it seems every band is putting out a DVD, this is one of the few that is absolutely essential.