Mr Bungle – The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny Demo
Released: 30 October 2020
Mike Patton | vocals
Trey Spruance | guitars
Trevor Dunn | bass guitar
Scott Ian | guitar
Dave Lombardo | drums
The last time we got an album from Mike Patton, Trey Spruance and Trevor Dunn, it was a mix of California rock with elements of lounge, jazz, blues, surf rock, and very little metal. After lying dormant for 20 years, Mr Bungle have returned with a re-recording of their 1986 demo, The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny. Since that release is predominately thrash, they have recruited thrash royalty in ex-Slayer drummer Dave Lombardo and Anthrax guitarist Scott Ian to help update the songs for a fresh audience, with no saxophones in sight. The result is completely removed from 1999’s California and 1995’s Disco Volante, which is arguably the most Bungle thing they could do in 2020.
‘Grizzly Adams’ kicks things off with a creepy, slow intro that would make an old school Metallica fan take notice, that kicks up a gear and leads into the 80s crunch of ‘Anarchy Up Your Anus’, a horror themed song that then goes into straight into headbanging, horn raising, thrash… complete with gang backing vocals! Patton is maniacal as he moves from bellows to screeches and back again. First single ‘Raping Your Mind’ continues in a similar vein, with Lombardo blasting away on the snare and double kick drums. It gets seriously fast too, with lyrics that lack a sense of humour. The solo is glorious with whammy and string bending followed by some classic Lombardo drum fills. If you dug this when you heard it, then you’ll be in for a treat the rest of the way.
‘Hypocrites / Habla Espanol O Muere’ is arguably the closest to old Bungle: with lyrics that address re-recording their demo, a segue into the seminal Spanish language classic ‘La Cucaracha’ and a cover of S.O.D.’s ‘Speak English or Die’, with Spanish substituted for English in the chorus. It’s got a bit of the Faith No More about it too, for those who found this band via Patton’s most famous and commercial project. It is probably a cool moment for Ian too, to have Mike freakin’ Patton singing S.O.D alongside him.
‘Bungle Grind’ gets back onto the business of flat out thrashing, with Patton channelling Sepultura in his more death metal delivery. There is even a breakdown that actually goes faster, with Ian’s rhythm smashing its way to the point where Spruance ejaculates his solo all over the place, high pitched until Patton blows a whistle (not a euphemism) that calls him back to jamming alongside Ian. What was once a bunch of snot nosed kids trying to be thrash in 1986, is now a masterclass in tempo changes and going for broke. As a consequence, ‘Methematics’ sounds almost slow by comparison (with a title is the sort of pun that modern thrash bands would kill for), but obviously picks up and goes for a more hardcore sound that belts away for nearly nine minutes, with Patton’s vocal gymnastics the highlight. ‘Eracist’ has a slower riff and shorter run time, that is much more punk in execution than the other tracks, and is catchier as a result.
‘Spreading The Thighs of Death’ is the missing Slayer track you never knew existed, with a crazy solo that is all finger taps creating a sound and fury that more melodic players would consider to signify nothing. But Spruance sounds like he is having a ball just playing as fast as he can and then getting to jam with Ian on riffs he wrote in days gone by. If anything it goes on a bit long, as there isn’t much to differentiate the track from the other longer songs on the album. ‘Loss for Words’ is an old school Animosity-era Corrosion of Conformity track that is new to this release, and is really just a fun addition to a band they effectively grew up alongside, and probably aspire to as a hardcore/crossover act at the time. It does add a bit of a swagger to the proceedings, and gives Patton a chance to really scream, while Dunn gets to flash some noodling on his bass during the slow, Sabbath-style breakdown. ‘Glutton for Punishment’ has a much more fiddly riff by Spruance, but Ian and Dunn play the rhythm straight, keeping the sound interesting but brutal. There’s some serious musicianship on show here, and it is a chord progression that sounds more like their 90s output, with Patton even whispering parts of the lyrics, underscoring the horror movie lyrics (you know that scene for Gluttony in David Fincher’s Seven? It’s like that, but faster).
The album closes with the epic ‘Sudden Death’. It has a slower grinding riff that progresses every few bars, even as Lombardo starts blasting away with his feet, the guitarists refuse to follow suit and stay on course for death metal annihilation. Patton breaks the tension with a sharp scream and Lombardo wins out, it is pedal to the metal with Mike comparing nuclear war to high school prom. His conviction is real though, there is no sly wink, and the band follows him down the rabbit hole with key changes and a serious gallop as they chant in rage: “Do we stand a fucking chance?” It is an anthem for the angry and disaffected and that it should reappear in 2020 feels right, especially when Patton expresses his doubts about “cold guts at the grocery store” (face it, we’ve all been there lately even if you’re more tofu than cold cuts). That said, if any song needed a saxophone infused outro it was probably this one.
If you liked Patton and Lombardo’s last band Dead Cross then you’ll find this Bungle release a worthy follow up to that project, it is the same flat out intense the whole running time. If you were hoping for something as out there as California or Disco Volante you’ll probably be disappointed. Is releasing a straight thrash album an avant garde move? Bungle pride themselves on doing the unexpected and the fact they are even releasing music in 2020 is probably a sign of the apocalypse, in which case The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny Demo is a perfect soundtrack. Worth a spin for Halloween.
Mr Bungle – The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny Demo tracklisting:
1. Grizzly Adams
2. Anarchy Up Your Anus
3. Raping Your Mind
4. Hypocrites / Habla Español O Muere
5. Bungle Grind
8. Spreading The Thighs Of Death
9. Loss For Words
10. Glutton For Punishment
11. Sudden Death