October 27, 2020 Mr. Bungle – The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny Demo (Album Review)
Devil’s Night is the perfect night for a visit from… The Easter Bunny. Well, it makes sense if you’re Mr. Bungle, who has always defied the rules and they are not stopping now. On Friday, October 30, 2020, they issue the re-recorded The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny Demo via Ipecac Recordings.
Formed in Humboldt County, California in 1985, their very first recording, the “self-produced, amateurish gem” of 1986’s The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny, marked the beginning of a band who would go on to flip genres in the same way that some change their clothing. Fast forward and it has been over two decades since Mr. Bungle recorded and released their third LP, 1999’s California, toured in support of the disc, and then went on an indefinite hiatus. But no amount of time passing can eclipse their unique attitude toward music, which, more often than not, has been deemed avant-garde and/or experimental. So while 1991’s Funk Metal Mr. Bungle and 1995’s Experimental Disco Volante remain treasured commodities in the hearts of many, it is that mad hatter of a demo that the reunited band toured behind in Winter 2020.
And now that time has beaten the band upside the head with experience, Vocalist Mike Patton, Guitarist Trey Spruance, and Bassist Trevor Dunn, all of whom are multi-instrumentalists, are ready to recapture the magic of their very first effort. Recruiting Thrash legends Scott Ian (Anthrax) and Dave Lombardo (ex-Slayer) to round out their line-up, and inspired and energized by their successful seven-date February tour, Mr. Bungle is happily returning to their heavy roots.
Produced by the band, recorded by Husky Höskulds (Tom Waits, Norah Jones), and mixed and mastered by Jay Ruston (Anthrax, Stone Sour), the 11-song The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny Demo is a return to Mr. Bungle’s Thrash and Speed Metal roots but with some surprises—because how dare you expect them to play by the book! The re-worked 35 year-old demo contains newly recorded versions of six of its original tracks, along with two covers, and three previously unreleased gems from the late ‘80s era: “Glutton For Punishment,” “Methmatics,” and “Eracist.”
The rejuvenated Raging Bunny begins to impart her wrath as Spruance and Ian take the lead on the dark guitar journey through “Grizzly Adams.” Then it’s Metal up your, ahem, on “Anarchy Up Your Anus,” which contains narration from Comedienne Rhea Perlman. Amid brutally slamming guitars, Lombardo’s blast beats, and Patton’s vocal meltdown, Mr. Bungle enthusiastically portrays sonic anarchy, recapturing lo-fi ‘80s Thrash flawlessly. (Metallica, please take notes!)
On “Raping Your Mind,” the incomparable mayhem of Spruance and Ian gallops ahead of Dunn and Lombardo’s weighty foundation, all as Patton growls like a demon caged inside a mossy oubliette. And yes, the freneticism does, in fact, come close to destroying your mind, though it’s the horrific torture porn at the center of the song that truly does its title proud. Side note: though it feels fairly safe to say that most music lovers know that this material is not for the easily offended, we’ll just reiterate that in case you missed the memo.
Next, they practice some nepotism with a reconstructed cover of Stormtroopers of Death’s “Speak Spanish or Die,” which they title “Hypocrites / Habla Español O Muere.” The patchwork presentation combines thick bass, a few lines of the traditional Spanish folk song “La Cucaracha,” and a sarcastic spit at xenophobia that is as timely in 2020 as it was in 1985. However, they remove the Ska section, much as they do throughout the entire LP, stripping their sound down to cohesive brutality, such as on the spastic technical proficiency of “Bungle Grind” and the hyper-aggressive “Methematics.”
It’s interesting how so many of these songs have aged so well, particularly the violently antiracist “Eracist.” Meanwhile, the brutal thrashing of “Spreading the Thighs of Death” delivers one of the most insane guitar solos on the collection before segueing right into a cover of Corrosion of Conformity’s “Loss For Words.” Then it’s back to the races for “Glutton For Punishment,” with its fat bass contrasting Patton’s dueling screeches and ASMR-styled vocals. All of this before they sign off with the seven and a half minute epic, “Sudden Death.” Leaning the furthest toward Death Metal that they have on the disc, the dark track simultaneously displays the incendiary band’s superior ability to move at mind-blowing speeds and condemns humankind to a tragic demise.
Sunshine and unicorns—That’s Mr. Bungle. And while every other artist on this dying planet is trying to refine their music to the point of overproduction, this quintet manages to harness the lo-fi qualities of the ‘80s Speed/Thrash that began their career to create a ridiculously perfect imperfect collection. As a promise of what’s to come, and a look back at what has been, The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny Demo is a magnificent melding of the past and the present. With the raw production of ‘80s Metal, the emphatic edge of Hardcore and hyperbolic lyrics of their youth, as well as the matured musicianship that comes with endless hours spent on the road, Mr. Bungle reintroduce themselves to a new generation. Beware, kids, it’s a dizzying ride! For all of the above reasons, and just because we can, Cryptic Rock gives The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny Demo 4.5 of 5 stars.