Verbal Assault was one of the pioneering hardcore bands to come of the East Coast during the movement's first wave in the early '80s. Touring extensively through North America later in the decade, the group's final performance came in 1991, but not before leaving a recorded legacy behind that has influenced countless acts for decades now.
Recorded in the summer of 1987, Verbal Assault's second album, Trial, proved to be the band's finest hour, finding them coalescing elements of classic hardcore and melodic rock with potent results. Trial was was made during a time when most hardcore bands didn’t even stick around long enough to make an album, let alone two. "I think we had certain ideas about what we were trying to do when we went into record specific albums, but there wasn’t a long-range or 'master plan' about where we thought we would ultimately go," Verbal Assault vocalist Christopher Jones tells me when I ask him if he and the band thought longterm when it came to the group.
Christopher is chatting with me on the eve of the reissue of Trial, which Atomic Action! Records got remastered by Nick Townsend (Generacion Suicida, FireBurn), who worked off of the original final mixes of the album.
I asked Christopher if there were any songwriting and/or sonic aspects about the previous Verbal Assault records/recordings that the band wanted to avoid before going into the Trial sessions. "For me, the time around Trial is when VA really became a band. To that end, we definitely wanted the songs to have a bigger sound and feel than the stuff that we did before (The Masses tape and Learn EP). We thought that our songwriting had gotten better, and we wanted the production for Trial to reflect that."
So, how aware was Verbal Assault of what their contemporaries were doing at the time of the Trial album?
"We were very much influenced by what was happening in DC and NYC. On the other hand, I often point out that staying put in Newport, RI kept us in a circle of musicians who were doing things very different than us (Throwing Muses always comes to mind here), and I think that may have helped us find our own way, so to speak."
Verbal Assault — especially the Trial-era — is often cited by younger/current hardcore bands as a prime influence. I wondered if Christopher hears that when he listens to these bands. "In some bands, yes, and I always considered it a tremendous compliment. I’ll be honest, though: I don’t really keep up on a lot of what is currently going on. Not a judgement call, I just don’t listen to a lot of music, and that’s just me being a wierdo."
In closing, I asked Christopher of all the Verbal Assault songs, which one he though best captured the band’s spirit. "I have two: 'More Than Music' because it struck such a chord with so many people (pun intended), and 'Anger Battery,' since I love the lyrics and music to that song a lot."
The reissue of Trial is available from Atomic Action! Records in various bundles at this link.
Tagged: verbal assault