Ahh Mr. Bungle, a band that has always come and gone through discussions but one that I never quite held onto. Perhaps it was because I used to have hard time getting into their extreme avant garde style but my friend Dan eventually pushed me into digging deeper and finding that they had something I really did dig. Their original "Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny" demo from the 80s became a favorite of mine. The mix of Hardcore, Thrash and early elements of Ska, Grindcore and Death Metal really hit me hard and I can really credit it to helping me get into more extreme music later on in life. Now I did eventually come around to their three epic offerings(and became a huge Mike Patton fan in general) but that demo always really stuck with me. Now in 2020 Bungle has returned and in true weird out there fashion, they decided to rerecord that demo with some songs retooled and a few covers and new originals that never made it to the original tape.
Now to prepare for this review, I listened to both versions to really get the feel of each and see what new there is to offer. From the start, the addition of Dave Lombardo and Scott Ian add a layer of tightness and flash that the original definitely lacked. The production is really full and bassy with Dunns bass really cutting through all the manic riffing. The vocals definitely are a bit different as Patton has more of a thrash and death metal-esque growl than his shriek on the original recordings. Just about every song works terrifically and carries the ideas from the original even up to Rhea Pearlmans narration at the beginning of "Anarchy Up Your Anus" being totally faithful. It really brings me back to the first time I heard these songs but beefed way the hell up. Really the only song I have a bit of an issue with is "Hypocrites/Habla Español O Muere" where the Ska chorus is dropped in favor of an intense rendition of SOD's "Speak English or Die". I just felt that song as a whole really stood out and chopping off a bit kind of felt needless. The musicianship is really impeccable though as each songs is almost more intense than the last with Patton literally sounding like he's being tortured. Tracks like "Bungle Grind" and new tracks "Methematics" and "Eracist" really are the definition of what a tight band should sound like. The album does get a bit tired toward the end and though "Sudden Death" is a great end, I feel this album started to bleed together a bit by then. I definitely feel the later tracks more if I listen to the album in increments.
Overall though, this is an incredible album and probably the best Thrash record I have heard in at least the past few years. Mr. Bungle is a name associated with a lot of things: weird, experimental, avante garde and now intense great thrash music. Resurrecting an old demo after 20 years of silence and breathing new life into it show how much Patton and co. know what they are doing. This one definitely will be high on the list at the end of the year for me!