The experimental rock legends Mr. Bungle are back after over 20 years with a re-recording of their 1986 demo The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny. It may come as a disappointment for some fans that this is a straight thrash metal record, as opposed to the bands usual experimental and musically eclectic material. But fear not, as even though it doesn’t quite reach the heights of the band’s original trilogy of albums, The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny is a fun return for the band that showcases their penchant for dissonant melodies and frantic time changes.
The album opens with the instrumental track “Grizzly Adams”. This is a really cool opener that helps ease the fears of longtime Bungle fans who think the band making a standard metal album might be a detriment to their signature musicianship. It begins with eerily dissonant guitar harmonies performed beautifully by guitarist Trey Spruance. Spruance wrote this track at the young age of 17 years old and it displays his compositional skills with its odd intervals and clever build. After that, the album showcases some straightforward thrash. There are great riffs aplenty throughout the album with almost every track exhibiting some memorable riffs that utilize creative rhythms and syncopation to their advantage. Ex-Slayer drummer Dave Lombardo’s takes over the drumming duties for the record and really shines throughout. His signature frantic drum style fits perfectly with the rest of the band, and he is able to display some neat fills and drum breaks. Perhaps the best song on the album comes in “Bungle Grind”. This is a near seven-minute suite of face-melting riffage and shred-tastic solos. The song builds well with every riff being better than the last, and climaxes with an epicly grandiose guitar solo/harmony. An understated element of The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny that really works in its favor is its production. Mr. Bungle self-produced the album to great effect. It has a vibrant, modern sound without coming off too squeaky-clean or overproduced. The guitars have the perfect amount of punch to complement all of the riffs and the drums thud without giving off too much bass. Kudos to the band for being able to produce the record enough restraint to give the record a modern, yet raw and punchy sound.
Mike Patton once again shows that he is an absolute chameleon of vocal stylings. Fans of Mr. Bungle’s older work or of Patton’s work in Faith No More may find his voice to be unrecognizable here, as he largely screams and growls like a demon throughout the record. This vocal style works for the album’s hard-hitting thrash vibe, although it may unnerve some listeners. One detriment to The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny is its length that clocks in just under an hour. Now Mr. Bungle are no strangers to epic album lengths, but their previous three albums warranted these lengths due to their extreme variety in musical styles and ambitious song lengths. With The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny being a standard thrash metal record, it does start to drag toward the end with each riff blending into one another. This album could’ve easily benefitted from shaving off a good 10 minutes.
Mr. Bungle’s re-recording of their debut demo is a success, as it gives the proper studio treatment to the songs on the band’s original demo (some of which have been performed live by the band over the years). No, it doesn’t reach masterpiece levels like the band’s original trilogy of Mr. Bungle, Disco Volante, and California, but it was never going to. The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny sees Mr. Bungle honoring their origins. Even though much of the record was written by the band members when they were teenagers, there’s still a sense of the musical sophistication and compositional aptitude that Bungle fans have come to know and love. In the black hole of a year that is 2020, it’s great to hear some newly recorded material from the experimental rock icons.
Standout Track: Bungle Grind