Mr Bungle – ‘The Raging Wrath of The Easter Bunny Demo’

By James Lillywhite

Old bands seem to always be reforming and coming back these days. It was still a surprise, though, to hear that Mr Bungle were getting back together, 20 years since their last record – the Mike Patton-fronted experimental metal group released three excellent genre-bending albums in the 90s, and then went their separate ways. In the years since, there was little talk of a reunion as the band members moved on to pastures new. 

So when they announced new shows in LA at the beginning of the year, fans got really excited. But then, some became confused. Mr Bungle announced two new members – Anthrax guitarist Scott Ian and Slayer drummer Dave Lombardo – then announced at the LA shows that they were only going to play songs from one of their first releases, 1986’s thrash metal demo ‘The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny’. And this is exactly what they did.

That brings us to this release. Recorded just before lockdown, with Ian and Lombardo in tow once more, ‘The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny Demo’ is a re-recording of that demo – with a few covers and other early Bungle songs from that same time thrown in for good measure. And for the most part, it is a really fun 80s throwback thrash record.

You can hear the original demo on Youtube. To be frank, it sounds terrible. The production on the original demo is awful, and it sounds like exactly what it is – a bunch of teenagers beating the shit out of their instruments in a garage, so it almost goes without saying that this re-recording is a huge step up in quality. Mike Patton, Trey Spruance and Trevor Dunn are ten times the musicians they were back when this was first recorded, and while they’ve kept the youthful new energy of the original demo, everything else has been beefed up and now sounds like a proper, professional album.

The band made the decision to not drastically change too much else, though. Production aside, lots of these songs remain the same as the original demos; there have been some changes to the tracklisting, and a few extra songs thrown in, but musically it is largely the same. If we were talking about a video game, TRWOTEBD is more remaster than remake.

The demo and the other original Bungle tracks are mostly ‘Big Four’ influenced thrash tracks; fast paced, heavy songs, full of riffs, solos and harsh vocals. It’s head-banging stuff – and of a high quality. It’s probably as good a modern thrash metal album as you’ll hear this year. Having Scott Ian and in particular Dave Lombardo helps, of course – both musicians have recognisable sounds, and it’s always fun to hear them let rip on this album.

On first listen, TRWOTEB just sounds like a straight-up thrash album. And that’s great. But once you get a few listens in, you can hear a few moments of typical Mr Bungle madness – this is probably most obvious in the SOD cover/reimagining ‘Hypocracy/ Speak Spanish or Die’ where it briefly segways into ‘La Cucaracha’, but there are also mind-bending parts spread throughout the album on tracks like ‘Bungle Grind’, ‘Methematics’, and ‘Sudden Death’. 

But these are only moments. Older Mr Bungle albums would would change genre multiple times, sometimes in the same song; on this new release, it sticks to the thrash metal throughout, with a few Bungle-isms chucked in along the way. The only song that strays away from thrash a little bit is the excellent single ‘Eracist’. This alt-metal track is a bit more what you’d expect from a Mr Bungle album – and is catchy as hell. 

It is not a perfect record. It’s way too long, for starters, clocking in at around hour, and it’s a little bit one note. And in reality, as good as this is, is it as exciting as a proper new album from the band? Probably not.

But Mr Bungle won’t care about any of that. This is essentially dream fulfilment for the original members. They’ve enlisted two of their thrash metal heroes, and re-recorded their early demo as a love letter to the genre, and it is really fun to listen to. You can tell everyone involved is having a great time, the songs are excellent, and it makes you bang your head. What more do you want from a thrash album?

This isn’t the comeback Mr Bungle fans were expecting. It probably isn’t even the one many would have wanted. But if you like the idea of Mike Patton, Scott Ian, and Dave Lombardo playing thrash metal together, you’ll love this album.

JAMES LILLYWHITE

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