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Trust: Répression (1980)

Trust’s eponymous debut from 1979 was an underrated rallying cry for European hard rock, signaling that consumer tastes were finally turning the page on punk rock, disco, and other late ‘70s popular music trends.

So when the Parisians’ sophomore LP, Répression, was released 40 years ago this month, it reinforced a couple of truths …

First: frontman Bernie Bonvoisin wasn’t about to stop singing in his native tongue, just because their first album had gained some notoriety beyond France’s borders – especially among specialized magazines across the English Channel, where the New Wave of British Heavy Metal was just about to crest.

Second: that this imminent “changing of the guard,” from punk to metal, wouldn’t stop the band (completed by guitarist Norbert Krief, bassist Yves Brusco and drummer Jeannot Hanela) from writing songs in their unique, half-punk, half-metal style (although that would eventually change).

And I’d be willing to bet that it was this early example of what we’d later call “crossover” that helped endear Trust to New York thrashers Anthrax, who famously covered this LP’s opening standout, “Antisocial,” on 1988’s State of Euphoria, with adapted English lyrics, of course.

Listening to Répression four decades on, it may all may sound like tried-and-true hard rock, but just wait until you reach the unexpected horns that punctuate “Au Nom de la Race,” and the boogie-woogie piano and a sax solo in the fierce head-banger “Fatalité.” 

And some of Trust’s singular appeal – Bonvoisin’s always topical, incendiary lyrics – also got lost in translation; not that you need to speak French (I don’t) to get the gist, thanks to Bernie’s genuine fury and disgust as he rails against all kinds of social injustices: from wrongful imprisonment (“Monsier Comédie”) and police brutality (“Instinct de Mort”), to urban oppression (“Sors Tes Griffes”) and organized religion (“Les Sectes”).

All of Répression’s heavy rock invective was aptly dedicated to recently deceased AC/DC singer Bon Scott, with whom Trust had established a friendly rapport when the two bands toured together in ‘79 – look closely and you’ll see that Bernie is sporting an AC/DC pin on his leather jacket.

But change, inexorable change, was looming right around the corner for Trust …

The group’s next LP, Marche ou Creve, featured a young British drummer named Nicko McBrain, and 1983’s self-titled fourth effort featured Clive Burr (yes, they basically swapped drummers with Iron Maiden), but neither LP had as many great songs, let alone the instinctive moxie of the first two.

And Trust’s career would really skid off the rails after that, as they finally buckled to external pressure and penned English lyrics for ‘84’s poorly received Man’s Trap, which ultimately led to the band’s breakup the following year.

More Trust: Répression.

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