Mr Bungle are one of those bands. Hard to describe and almost beyond any strict classification, they were once one of the most talked-about underground bands in America in the mid 80s and 90s, known for their wild musical trips and even wilder live shows.
Mr Bungle – The Night They Came Home (Ipecac Recordings)
Release Date: 11 June 2021
Words: Kahmel Farahani
Now Mr Bungle have transformed into one of the finest and most talked-about Thrash metal bands of the moment! Original Mr Bungle members Mike Patton, Trey Spruance and Trevor Dunn, reunited to rerecord some of their earliest demo recordings as they had always intended them to be heard.
As Trey says in the film, “You can’t hear what the hell was going on in that tape, and for 35 years now we’re all gone shit, nobody really knows what this band sounds like or how it is supposed to sound.”
That stellar rerecorded version came out last year as The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny Demos to glowing reviews. MetalTalk said that this old school Thrash Metal is a mandatory listen.
Mr Bungle managed it with a little help from their friends from the big four. Anthrax’s Scott Ian provides rhythm guitar while former Slayer heavy hitter Dave Lombardo brings a truly earth-shaking performance on the drums. “It was brutal, it was funny, and I immediately liked it,” says Scott Ian of his first encounter with the band’s music.
This beautifully shot and mixed live concert catches Mr Bungle playing a blistering showcase. The film starts with an appropriately bizarre little stand-up comedy sketch before the band enter with the easy listening Won’t You Be My Neighbor? However, it lasts less than a minute before all hell breaks loose with the breakneck Death Metal of Anarchy Up Your Anus.
An invigorating experience
Songs like Raping Your Mind and Bungle Grind sound sonically like early Slayer combined with the anarchic energy of hardcore punk bands like Black Flag and Fear. It’s far from an easy listen to leave on in the background, but my lord, is it invigorating!
“We wrote the stuff when we were 16,” says frontman Mike Patton of their Easter Bunny demos. “It’s more like Laurel and Hardy Death Metal as opposed to ‘real’ Metal. So everything we do is just that little bit off-kilter.”
Even if that might not sound like everyone’s cup of tea, it’s almost impossible to watch Mr Bungle in their current iteration and not feel impressed with the band’s sheer technical prowess and power.
Methematics starts with a brilliantly heavy and groove-laden riff before the band pick up speed and head hurtling back into Death Metal territory, with Scott Ian and Dave Lombardo providing the seemingly never-ending drive.
Brilliant in execution
The real essence of Mr Bungle’s appeal may be the successful blending of motifs, genres and ideas that look borderline insane on paper but turn out brilliantly in execution. A perfect example is the ridiculously fine medley of Slayer’s Hell Awaits with Summer Breeze by Seals & Crofts. It’s a highlight of this live set, and it’s hard to imagine any other band that could pull it off.
The furious punk of Hypocrites / Habla Español O Muere sounds like Minor Threat playing La Cucaracha – one of those things you didn’t know you needed in your life until you heard it.
The Night They Came Home is particularly enjoyable as a film rather than a straight-ahead album because we get to enjoy the technically stunning performances while at the same taking in the band’s often tongue firmly in cheek presentation.
The band finish the film with a truly jaw-dropping tribute to the late great Eddie Van Halen. Blazing through Loss Of Control in an almost note for note take shows just how brilliantly flexible Mr Bungle are.
We can only hope that Mr Bungle stick around as a long term project for Mike Patton and co because they clearly have much more to give.
In a world gone mad, we need Mr Bungle to provide the soundtrack.
The Night They Came Home
Won’t You Be My Neighbor? (Mr Rogers cover)
Anarchy Up Your Anus
Raping Your Mind
Hell Awaits/Summer Breeze (Slayer/Seals & Croft medley/cover)
World Up My Ass (Circle Jerks cover)
Glutton For Punishment
Hypocrites/Habla Español O Muere (S.O.D. cover)
Spreading The Thighs of Death
Loss for Words (Corrosion of Conformity cover)
Loss of Control (Van Halen cover)
Available from lnk.to/MBLive