TRIAL (picture courtesy of Henri Van Dommelen & supplied by Gert Ouderits)


In July of 1982 a young Punkrock quintet by the name of METALBREAKER called it quits when one of their guitarists and their drummer left. The remaining ex members (vocalist Patrick 'Pat Savage' De Wilde, guitarist Dirk 'Cliff Marauder' De Strooper & bassist Gunther 'Metal Gunny' Poppe) started a search for other people to form a new band. According to Gunther METALBREAKER intended to play hardrock / heavy metal but weren't very good at it, resulting in a more Punky sound. The band played live once or twice before disbanding.

By October 15th 1982 Dirk, Gunther and Patrick managed to complete a new line-up with the addition of drummer Marc 'Mike Thunderstick' Vereecken & guitarist Jan 'Angus' Theus (both ex CREEPING SILENCE). According to Gunther CREEPING SILENCE were a rock band more than anything else, a bit in the RED ZEBRA vein. They also played covers of THE POLICE in rehearsal, yet they never managed to play live. This newly created quintet changed their name to TRIAL and continued to play music along the lines of METALBREAKER for a while.

TRIAL's first ever gig was at De Stube in hometown Zele, on March 11th 1983. But as Punk had started to go out of fashion the band decided to change their style to rock, resulting in the exit of Jan Theus. As far as Gunther remembers, Jan left due to lack of interest and because the band's material was evolving into a style that was way too raw and heavy.

After a while a replacement for Jan was found in Kris 'Slake' Van De Vijver. Kris hailed from nearby Hamme, joined TRIAL on May 14th 1983 and used to be in rock band HAWK until then. And despite being part of a rock outfit, Kris especially enjoyed heavy metal in those days. This being the reason for leaving HAWK and joining TRIAL instead. In fact, HAWK ceased to exist after his departure. The band continued to evolve with this line-up and eventually dropped their entire rock repertoire and replaced it by their newly written hard rock tunes. A demo is rumoured to have been recorded in those days as well.

TRIAL 1983 : L - R : Kris Van De Vijver, Gunther Poppe, Patrick De Wilde, Dirk De Strooper, Marc Vereecken (picture supplied by Christophe Vernimmen)

The band's first gig with this new line-up was on October 22nd 1983 at the Gildenhuis venue in Zele, supporting THOR. TRIAL also started to participate in a couple of talent contests from then on : they even went on to win the Press Award during one at Sporthal Van De Velde in Lokeren on November 11th 1983. And on March 30th 1984 TRIAL even won the talent contest at JGM Esmoreit in Gentbrugge!

More live activity followed in April of 1984. On April 17th the band played another homegame, this time at J.C. Juvenes. And four days later TRIAL supported PURPLE HAZE at the Roxy in Dendermonde. On June 30th the band went on a road trip to the Boskant venue in Minderhout, where they opened up for POWERAID. And on October 7th POWERAID returned the favour by acting as the support band for TRIAL at Zele's J.C. Juvenes.

All of these gigs, plus quite some press coverage, had resulted in interest from Mark Van Beveren (Colour Records), who offered the band a deal. But due to differences within the band (as some members didn't think the band was ready to record an album) TRIAL almost broke up, instead of signing a deal. After a while everything was sorted out and TRIAL decided to go for a more heavy metal related approach.

TRIAL's last gig of 1984 was on December 1st, at Schuttershof in Sint-Kruis-Brugge, supporting local headliners EXOCET. Plans to record and release a 7" in early 1985 (including Don't Show Fear) had been made by then as well. Nothing ever materialised though ...

On February 2nd 1985 TRIAL played support to AXEL, at the Katholieke Kring in Moorsel, near Aalst. Locals BRAIN SHAKE were the opening band on that occasion. On February 25th 1985 TRIAL played at the Elysee Pub in Kerksken, followed by a gig at J.C. Kidboys in Weelde on March 16th.

Also in March of 1985 a TRIAL fanclub (based out of Waasmunster) saw the light of day, and TRIAL signed a deal with Marc Van Beveren's Colour Record at last. Most likely that was on the evidence of the band's performance at the first Hard & Heavy Festival at the Gildenhuis venue in their hometown Zele on March 23rd, when they headlined over EXOCET, EXPLORER and IRON GREY. On that particular occasion TRIAL displayed stuff that was set to be included on their first vinyl release (i.e. Lord Of Darkness, Don't Say Goodbye, Lost In Love, Master Of The Valley and Scream For Mercy) as well as unknown tunes such as Sign Of Evil, The Prison, Real Illusion, Don't Show Fear, The Urge To Fly, The End Of The World, Hot Nights, Broken Mind, Rock Fever and Loud And Clear.

One week later though, on March 30th 1985, Kris Van De Vijver left TRIAL, due to personal reasons. No the most convenient moment in time, as TRIAL had to play live later on that same day, at The James in Aartrijke. A replacement for Kris was soon (on April 6th) found in Freddy 'Bruce Denner' Van Dender, from nearby Hamme-Zogge. Unfortunately Freddy was in the midst of exams at the time and wasn't able to learn TRIAL's repertoire immediately. As a result TRIAL were forced to do a couple more gigs as a quartet, but things never really felt right that way.

TRIAL 1985 : L - R : Dirk De Strooper, Patrick De Wilde, Freddy Van Dender, Marc Vereecken, Gunther Poppe (picture supplied by Christophe Vernimmen)

The band also decided to get rid of most of the songs of their current repertoire, as only some six songs would survive. A couple more new songs, in a faster and heavier vein were written as well, resulting in a new TRIAL sound. This move would also enable Freddy to learn TRIAL's repertoire in a shorter timespan.

In the meantime TRIAL continued as a quartet though. A show at a festival to coincide with the 'Year of the Youth' in Dendermonde on April 20th 1985 fell through though, due to bad organising skills. On May 16th 1985 TRIAL supported THOR once again, at Zaal Rio in Hamme. By this time the band had a Dutch fanclub as well : based out of Eindhoven, it was led by Henri van Dommelen, who has remained a metalhead to this day. The final TRIAL gig as a fourpiece was two days later, on May 18th, at M.C. Piranha in Bonheiden. This marked the end of another era in TRIAL's history, as the band played the 'old' songs live for the very last time.

TRIAL started to concentrate on their new songs, and on breaking in Freddy, from then onwards. It soon became obvious though that Freddy couldn't keep up with the rest of the band, and it was therefore decided that he would not participate in the recordings for the band's upcoming mLP. This, together with the fact that his musical direction wasn't along the lines of TRIAL, made Freddy decide to leave the band on July 5th 1985.

On July 19th 1985 TRIAL headed to Colour Record's own 8-track studio in Gent, in order to gain some recording experience and to be prepared for the upcoming studio sessions for the band's first vinyl release. Engineer in charge that day was Peter Peyskens. By the end of the day the band had managed to record all six songs that were elected to be included on Scream For Mercy. Two days later TRIAL returned to the same studio to try out some keyboard parts for the song Lost In Love, and for the instrumental opener Victims Of This Earth. The dates for the actual recording sessions were set as well : from July 29th until August 1st 1985.

On July 29th the band went to the 16-track C-Studio in Leuven to begin the recording of the mLP. Engineer in charge this time was Pol Rispens. By the end of this first day the basics were already recorded : drums, bass, rhythm guitars as well as the vocals. On day two Cliff Marauder took care of all of the solo's and Peter Peyskens came in to complete Lost In Love by adding keyboards, and to lay down the final version of Victims Of This Earth. On July 31st the band and Pol Rispens took care of mixing everything adequately, resulting in the fact that a fourth day in the studio turned out to be unnecessary.

TRIAL in the studio, 1985 : L - R : Marc Vereecken, Gunther Poppe, Patrick De Wilde, Dirk De Strooper (picture supplied by Christophe Vernimmen)

Immediately after the recording sessions the band acquired a new second guitarist, 21-year old Hans 'Ian Grave' Putteman from Wieze. After a trial period of some weeks Hans officially became a member of TRIAL at the end of August 1985.

The release date for Scream For Mercy was set for September 16th 1985. And although Colour Records was far from a metal label, they would continue to release heavy metal releases every once in a blue moon, such as YOSH's Metaphors CD in 1995.

Live shows in support of Scream For Mercy followed soon. On Saturday September 21st 1985 TRIAL was part of the Giants Of Metal festival at Zaal Lux in Herenthout, alongside the likes of XIRONIX, EL LOCO (replacing IRON GREY at late notice), EXPLORER, PARIAH and England's headliners BLIND FURY, who replaced OSTROGOTH. On October 26th the band played a homegame at the Gildenhuis venue once more, together with BATTLECRY and EXPLORER as support bands.

On January 25th 1986 TRIAL played live at De Split in Koekelare. On that occasion they played a couple of new songs, such as The Innocent, Hot Lady and Devil's Court. Also in early 1986 TRIAL signed a record deal with new Belgian record label Whiplash Records, and a new LP was set to be recorded in August or September that year, with an expected release date of autumn 1986. The band soon started to write new songs for said new release, and as a result kept quiet as far as live performances were concerned. The band's style changed a bit once again as well, as the new TRIAL songs turned out to be more in the speed metal vein, along the lines of HELLOWEEN.

TRIAL 1985 :  Marc Vereecken, Dirk De Strooper, Gunther Poppe, Hans Putteman, Patrick De Wilde, (picture supplied by Christophe Vernimmen)

On June 28th TRIAL was supposed to be part of the Whiplash festival in Brussels, but they were replaced at the last minute by Americans JOSHUA. The recordings for TRIAL's upcoming full-length debut LP took place in a studio in Holland : everything was recorded, except for the vocals. Unfortunately Whiplash Records turned out not to be financially stable at all, and soon went bankrupt. And as a result TRIAL's second vinyl release never saw the light of day. In fact, the band had to pay for the already used studio time by themselves, in order to get their instruments back. They did however never retrieve the masters of what they had already recorded, and it seems like those have vanished for good ever since

As a result vocalist Patrick had left TRIAL by the end of 1986, yet the remaining members continued rehearsing for a while. Links to some rehearsal footage from those days (early 1987) can be found below. Nothing much was heard of TRIAL ever after and the band came to a complete halt in July of 1987. Vocalist Patrick De Wilde and guitarist Hans Putteman seemed to have vanished completely, while guitarist Dirk De Strooper surfaced in MIND-RUIN later on. Bassist Gunther Poppe and drummer Marc Vereecken resurfaced onto the scene later in the year : they soon joined forces with former EXPLORER members Armando 'Don Beast' Tiebout (vocals), Ivan De Strooper (guitar) and Jan 'Jay' van der Poorten and continued as DEAD SERIOUS.


1985 : Scream For Mercy (mLP, Colour) {Victims Of This Earth, Lord Of Darkness, Master Of The Valley, Lost In Love, Scream For Mercy, Don't Say Goodbye, Heavy Rock In Town}

TRIAL - Scream For Mercy mLP (frontcover)

Consulted people

Gunther Poppe

Related links
First posted

March 24th 2007

Latest adjustment

January 18th 2008 (October 7th 2007)

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