After a near twenty-year absence, Mr. Bungle have reunited and returned with a vengeance. Following their dissolution and their final album California, the band went their separate ways and dove into a myriad of side projects and solo ventures: Trevor Dunn into MadlLove, Trey Spruance into the ever evolving Secret Chiefs 3 and Mike Patton Fantomas, Peeping Tom, Tomahawk and too many other projects to even name. The core three members are back together for this limited run of shows and are joined for them by none other than Dave Lombardo (ex-Slayer, Dead Cross, Grip Inc., Misfits) and Scott Ian (Anthrax). And, in an unusual twist, the band opted to perform all of their very first demo The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny. The demo, a speed metal/thrash album never released by a major record label, nor heard by the majority of even the band’s fans, showed the band in their earliest form, prior to mutating into every genre imaginable a few short years later.
This particular five-piece combination of the band was thrilling to watch, as Scott Ian is perfectly attuned to the blasting thrash chords of this material. Equally so, the unrivaled Dave Lombardo turned these numbers into pummeling all-out assaults. The combination allowed for guitarist Trey Spruance to pepper the mix with escalating and chaotic solos. All the while Mike Patton would be manically predicting each successive segment locking eyes with Lombardo. The set would find seven of the the eight songs of the original album “Anarchy Up Your Anus,” “Spreading the Thighs of Death,” “Raping Your Mind,” “Bungle Grind,” “Evil Satan,” “Hypocrites” and “Sudden Death” making an appearance, each a master class in what metal could be using force, verve and incredible technical skill. Sprinkled in between them were several time period appropriate covers, Corrosion of Conformity’s “Loss for Words,” the Cro-Mags’ “Malfunction,” Crumbsuckers’ “Just Sit There,” Circle Jerks’ “World Up My Ass” and even a modified take on Scott Ian’s hardcore thrash crossover Stormtroopers of Death trading “Speak English or Die” for “Speak Spanish or Die.”
Cutting against the grain at two key points Mr. Bungle dropped in two covers that helped balance the entire set. They opened on a lovely cover of the Mister Rogers theme song, “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” There, Patton would artfully take certain moments of the charming lullaby and mutate into a death metal howl.
Roughly half way through the set they doubled down on that serene energy dropping in a crack cover of the timeless Seals & Croft song “Summer Breeeze.” Patton changed the second verse lyrics to a humorous, crude refrain “Sit my ass up upon the window…” We’ll let you color in the rest from there.
As the set proper closer came to a finish, the band took the requisite encore break to come back to do a quick and charging cover of The Exploited’s “Fuck the U.S.A.” Little has been said of where the band plans to go from here, but if they really wanted, it would be easy to see how this quintet form of the band could easily re-record the original The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny and end up being one of the top “new” metal releases of the year. Truly, though this release was done almost thirty-five years ago, crack players like this taking these original, brilliant ideas and giving them a polish with their career-long earned skills would stand up against anything modern released now in heavy music. It could even be a mutated form of the group, say a la The Melvins Lite they could be Mr. Bungle HEAVY. And all of this, all of it, doesn’t even include any material whatsoever from their three legendary albums Mr. Bungle, Disco Volante and California. We don’t know just what yet, but it’s evident much more incredible things are to come with this reunion.