Mr. Bungle make face-smashing return to thrashing madness on ‘… Wrath of the Easter Bunny’

Photo by Eric Larsen

I’ve written more than 2,000 pieces for this site, and I’m always amazed looking back at stories I’ve gotten to write, the new bands I’ve pored over that have become modern heavy hitters, and the legends who I didn’t know I’d even have a chance to spill on at length about who have been a part of a site with such a dumb name, people think I’m joking when I tell them what it’s called.

Anyway, today’s another one of those landmark days, because it is the first time I get to devote a full piece to the insane and legendary Mr. Bungle, a group that had a huge part in completely fucking up what I thought music had to sound like a good two decades or so ago. I had some conventional thoughts and ideas and liked heavy music I could hear on the radio, but records such as “California” and their self-titled opus led me down a darker, more enthralling path. Now, more than 20 years after their last album, the band is back with another curveball “The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny Demo,” a re-recording of the 1986 piece that was their first release ever. If you’re familiar with their genre-defacing, completely unhinged other three records, get ready for something a little different. In short, this is a thrash metal album from wall to wall, a chance for the core of the band—vocalist Mike Patton, guitarist Trey Spruance, bassist Trevor Dunn—to unleash hell along with two noted powerhouses in Anthrax guitarist Scott Ian and former Slayer drummer (and Fantômas member along with Patton) Dave Lombardo to hammer out these 11 tracks that will pretty much floor you.

“Grizzly Adams” opens the record instrumental style as things seem to float in ether at the start before noises lurch, feeling like the ideal intro for a thrash metal album, butting heads with “Anarchy Up Your Anus.” A sample from “Disney’s Chilling Thrilling Sounds of the Haunted House” (voiced by Rhea Perlman!) mixes in before the thing explodes, with Patton’s forceful howls driving through flesh. The verses are rapid fire while gang shouts add even more energy, and the chorus kills again before the track finally expires. “Raping Your Mind” is chugging and blistering with a speedy punk vibe and Patton’s vocals just shredding. The soloing lights blinding fires as the playing goes for the jugular, while the playing continues to agitate until furiously bleeding all over itself. “Hypocrites/Habla Espanol O Muere” is a mix of a new track out front, and then the band tears into a reworked cover of S.O.D.’s “Speak English or Die,” spinning it toward Spanish. A zany insertion of the chorus from “La Cucaracha” jerks heads before the band smashes into their own take on the crossover classic, with Patton wailing, “Speak Spanish or DIE!” “Bungle Grind” begins as a speedy, maniacal beast that mashes away with Patton’s gravelly vocals peeling back flesh. He then veers into inhuman shrieks and gurgles as the guitar work explodes and helps amplify the insanity. A goddamn whistle pierces any sense of calm you were trying to build as a final eruption results in alien growls and an injection of speed.

“Methematics” is the longest track at 8:45, and the riffs charge up as Patton’s vocals murder sanity. Insane cries burst as crazed gang yells dress the chorus with added brutality, while Patton rattles off a list of things he loves and hates. The bass hammers as the guitars get primed up again, unleashing great speed that’s impossible to control, so just get the fuck out of the way. “Eracist” is punchy and agitated as Patton’s words are snarled, and the simple one-word chorus will be easy to yell back live in 8 years when COVID is over. The track gains speed dangerously as the soloing destroys, and the chorus worms its way back in, reminding you of its devious catchiness. “Spreading the Thighs of Death” delivers smothering thrash, tearing the track open at the midsection. The song is spirited and out for blood as guitars fry, and a strangling pace wrings the last drops of life, with Patton sounding like he’s choking on his own blood. “Loss For Words” is a blast through the Corrosion of Conformity cut from 1985’s “Animosity,” treated with horror and might. “Glutton for Punishment” is fast as hell, with the band applying ample pressure and the vocals switching from grit to whispers. Soloing drives a cement truck through your house, killing with intensity before the track stampedes closed. “Sudden Death” is your closer, a final burst of stirring, bloody thrash that explodes with rage. Patton’s vocals feel like he channeled 1984 as the track feels like a beast from another era, which leaves the heart warmed, if not just slightly diseased.

If you were expecting the zany, genre-slaughtering Mr. Bungle of old, you aren’t being served here, but that’s OK. “The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny Demo” is a trip back to a time before they stretched themselves all over the place by instead plastering their heart in an era when metal was getting heavier and more dangerous, something that’s all over this record. The album loses a tiny bit of steam as it rounds toward that massive finish, but that’s a minor issue with a revived, enraged Mr. Bungle that feels like they’re getting perverse pleasure sharpening their blades.

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