Twenty-one years since Mr. Bungle last recorded an album together, the California experimental rock band returns with a new album, which is actually a re-recording of the first album the band ever made. In 1986, Mr. Bungle self-produced and released The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny on cassette tape, a fiery collection of thrash metal that never got mass exposure. Thirty-four years later, the band has reunited, releasing a fresh rendition of the album, making the band’s earliest songs available for the first time on CD and digital.
The main players from the band’s original lineup are back: vocalist Mike Patton, lead guitarist Trey Spruance, and bassist Trevor Dunn. To round out the band, they added thrash metal icons Scott Ian (Anthrax guitarist) and Dave Lombardo (Slayer drummer). The resulting album is what you might expect from adding Anthrax and Slayer members to the Mr. Bungle fold.
With the songs receiving only minor modifications from their original 1986 compositions, The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny Demo is the most straightforward Mr. Bungle album. Devoid of the avant-garde compositions, atypical instruments, and jazz stylings, this release, for better or worse, is straight-up thrash metal. The rhythms are tight, the songs short and streamlined, and though it does have some of Mr. Bungle’s trademark quirks, especially in the lyrics, this album never goes off into insanely experimental territory like other Bungle outputs.
The eight songs on the original demo are accompanied by three new tracks, including covers of Stormtroopers of Death’s “Hypocrites / Habla Españnl O Muere,” which incorporates Mexican folk song “La Cucaracha” into the metal, and Corrosion of Conformity’s “Loss For Words.”
The album’s biggest weakness is its lack of variety. Without any of Mr. Bungle’s trademark experimentalism, the songs sound pretty much the same. In addition, Mike Patton (Faith No More), one of the most gifted singers in rock, is largely wasted, with all of his vocals consisting of growls, howls, and shrieks. This is Mr. Bungle getting back to the roots of their demo recording before Patton had developed his impressive vocal techniques and before the eclectic influences were incorporated into the sound.
Judged as a thrash metal album, it’s impressive. Ian and Spruance can shred with the best of them, laying down frenetic speed metal riffs and soaring solos. Lombardo’s drumming is heavy and menacing.
“Raping Your Mind” is high-octane thrash, Ian’s rapid-fire palm-muted rhythm meeting Lombardo’s pulverizing drums. “Prepare your dead spirits and your rotting flesh; prepare now, I’m raping your mind,” Patton bellows. Lyrics like that would be difficult to take seriously, but taking Mr. Bungle seriously has never been an option.
The infectious “Methematics” starts with a mid-tempo power chord riff before exploding into palm-muted tremolo picking. In its interludes between verses, Ian and Spruance unleash secondary riffs that are among the band’s best. The bludgeoning mid-tempo riffing of “Eracist” is the perfect song for a slow, brutal mosh pit. “Well, you picked a bad day to have a bad day; now you’re eracist,” Patton snarls over the crunching rhythm.
The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny Demo is the most accessible Mr. Bungle album, if it’s possible for thrash metal to be accessible. Without the musical detours and oddities of other Bungle releases, the band puts an emphasis on rocking out, and when it comes to speed-metal aggression and musicianship, few bands can match this lineup’s chops. Fans looking for the outlandishness of Disco Volante may be disappointed, but anyone looking for angry, nonsensical mosh music will find everything they need.