Overall Score: 8/10 Thrash: 10/10 Songwriting: 7/10 Originality: 6/10 Pros: Just a ridiculously fun thrash metal album that outperforms the last decade of the Big Four Cons: One paced
In 2020, Mr. Bungle find themselves in an enviable position. For the uber-long-term die-hards of the avant-garde collective hearing these tracks re-recorded with a modern production will be like all their Christian holidays of choice coming at once. On the other hand, nearly 100% of the global population and more importantly Mr. Bungle fans have not heard this material before, so for the core trio it’s shooting fish in a barrel. The tracks have existed since 1986 so with the benefit of a career in music (or twenty in vocalist Mike Patton’s case) and the hindsight of 2020, Patton, Trey Spruance and Trevor Dunn can make the music of ‘86 sound every bit as urgent and vital as it did in its day thirty-four years after it was first written.
With the release of Raping Your Mind, the first single from The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny Demo, a minority of listeners found themselves somewhat disappointed. There’s an argument to be made that on the surface, this re-recorded demo is a touch underwhelming. At the end of the day it’s just thrash. For a band that made their name with three LPs that defied genre classification, seeing the trio settle into a neatly defined niche is something of a let-down, like finding the titular Easter bunny has left you with rabbit excrement in place of chocolate. The immediate sight of the colour’s the same, but the tastes couldn’t be further apart.
However, this initial disappointment overlooks the session musicians joining the trailblazing triumvirate, namely Anthrax’s Scott Ian and former Slayer drummer, Dave Lombardo. Thrash royalty siding with cult heroes is a promising proposition, and the end result is a rip-snorting album that takes the spirit of ’86, polishes it with a modern sheen and results in the best thrash record since Power Trip’s Nightmare Logic. Hell, with all the regressive retro-thrash the world has been subject to since the halcyon days, it might even be the best since Megadeth’s Endgame.
This is not to say that the record reinvents the wheel. This is thrash, pure and simple and without bells and whistles. The one unique signifier is that distinctly Bungle sense of humour. Anarchy Up Your Anus takes cues from Angel of Death as it forces the revolutionary ideology into the rectum, Hypocrites/Habla Español O Muere is a simultaneous cover of the S.O.D. song and La Cucaracha and Spreading The Thighs of Death is a barmy foray into the limits of speed metal. Unsurprisingly, the record contains some Slayerisms such as Patton’s imitation of a wailing guitar, the blistering solos and the sinister edge to tracks like Bungle Grind. It also employs gang vocal choruses ala Anthrax’s classic material, which allows Ian to play to his strengths beyond his picking ability. When working with two titans of thrash it only makes sense to play to their strengths.
Realistically anyone disappointed by this album being thrash can’t honestly call themselves a Bungle fan. To be a Bungle-head is to expect the unexpected, to be side-lined by the decisions made. Patton, Spruance, and Dunn making a thrash record twenty-one years after the critically acclaimed mind-melting melange that was California is exactly what Mr. Bungle ought to do. To defy the laws of tradition is a crusade only of the brave, and they don’t come much braver than these madmen.
Mr. Bungle’s The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny Demo is released October 30th via Ipecac Recordings