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Mr. Bungle – The Night They Came Home

Mr. Bungle
The Night They Came Home
by Alex Barnard at 06 September 2021, 11:53 PM

If you don’t know MR. BUNGLE by now, you’ve been living under a rock. The band’s weird, eclectic, FRANK ZAPPA-esque brand of Metal has left an indelible mark on the genre, influencing everyone from KORN to AVENGED SEVENFOLD, and making it one of the most important Metal acts of last 30 years.

So when the group released its first new album in 20 years back in October 2020, many hardcore BUNGLE fans were disappointed not only by the fact that the album was just straightforward Thrash Metal, but also that it was a reworking of the group’s first demo: “The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny Demo.” In essence, one could argue it was a step back for a band widely regarded as one of the most experimental groups in the entire genre – playing it safe instead of breaking new ground. Now personally, I loved “The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny Demo.” For one, I was not around during MR. BUNGLE’s prime, so although I enjoy the band’s weirder albums, the connection that I have with them is not as strong as someone who has listened to the band for decades. Additionally, even though it is just a straight up Thrash album (especially with the addition of Scott Ian of ANTHRAX and SLAYER’s Dave Lombardo on guitar and drums, respectively), these songs still have the trademark MR. BUNGLE humor, and flashes of Trey Spruance’s Jazz guitar influences leak through in his solos. Thus, you can’t say that the album sounds nothing like MR. BUNGLE.

“The Night They Came Home” is the group’s first live album, released through Ipecac Recordings on June 11, 2021. As one might expect, the album mostly features live recordings of the songs from “The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny Demo,” as well as a smattering of covers. And my, do we see the band in fine form here! Mike Patton continues to prove that he is one of the best Metal vocalists ever in the history of the genre; Trevor Dunn delivers thumping, groovy bass lines that compliment the unmistakable presence of Dave Lombardo’s drumming; and Scott Ian’s distinctively choppy rhythm guitar playing is the perfect counterbalance to Trey Spruance’s Allan Holdsworth-esque soloing. This is one live show I wish I could've seen in person this year.

The group starts off with a mostly peaceful cover of Fred Rogers’ “Won’t You Be My Neighbor,” before shoving that tranquility aside completely with a blistering rendition of “Anarchy Up Your Anus.” This is one of the first times I’d ever realized that Mike Patton could do Death Metal style growls – and of course, since he is Mike Patton, he does it almost better than anyone else. This track is immediately followed by “Raping Your Mind,” whose chromatic riffs and heavy double-bass drumming shows the group taking its SLAYER worship to dizzying levels of perfection.

Before I continue this review, I just need to come to my own defense for a second. Some of you might call me a hypocrite for saying that it's a good thing for the band to wear its SLAYER influences on its sleeve when I have criticized other bands for doing the same thing with groups like DEEP PURPLE or WHITESNAKE. OK, maybe I am a hypocrite, but I think you get a free pass when the drummer of your band happens to be the same drummer of the band you're worshiping. If you have the almighty Dave Lombardo in your group, guess what – you’re going to sound more than a little bit like SLAYER.

Aside from the stellar performances of the adrenaline-pumping original tracks from “The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny Demo,” including the destructive “Methematics,” the frenetic “Spreading the Thighs of Death,” and, my personal favorite, the groovy “Eracist,” the other main draw of this live album are the covers the band chose. The group pays tribute to their new compatriots IAN and LOMBARDO by playing portions of songs from each of their respective bands. For example, before diving into their wildly irreverent yet simultaneously beautiful rendition of the SEALS & CROFT classic “Summer Breeze,” the band plays the instrumental opening to “Hell Awaits,” the title track from SLAYER’s devastatingly heavy second album. Similarly, halfway through the original song “Hypocrites,” the band breaks into “Habla Español O Muere” a reworked, post-Donald Trump version of the controversial song “Speak English or Die” from IAN’s Crossover Thrash side project S.O.D.


Perhaps my favorite cover of all on this album is the incredibly faithful version of the VAN HALEN deep cut “Loss of Control” from the band’s third album, “Women and Children First.” First of all, to hear Scott Ian and Dave Lombardo – two Thrash Metal icons whose best-known works are the antithesis of the type of music VAN HALEN would influence in the 80s – cover a VAN HALEN tune with such vigor and intensity is enough to make any true metalhead even remotely curious. Second of all, to hear Mike Patton not only do a spot on impression of David Lee Roth, but also re-create some of the in-studio effects like the walkie-talkie sounds at the beginning of the verse, made this VAN HALEN super fan incredibly happy.

Now, back briefly to the Seals & Croft cover. I knew “Summer Breeze” best from the version that TYPE O NEGATIVE did on their seminal album “Bloody Kisses.” So imagine my surprise – followed immediately by laughter – when Patton started singing about spreading open his butt cheeks to reveal his asshole to the world and taking a piss on humanity during what was supposed to be the second verse. Again, it’s the trademark sophomoric humor of MR. BUNGLE that makes this band truly special.

Overall, this is an incredible live album played by incredible musicians. Sure, if you are a MR. BUNGLE mega fan, you might understandably be disappointed that none of the songs from the band’s first three albums made it onto this record. But, if you came looking for a good old thrashing time complimented with a healthy dose of toilet humor, you’ve come to the right place!

Musicianship: 10
Production: 10
Songwriting: 6
Memorability: 7

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Won't You Be My Neighbor (Fred Rogers cover)
2. Anarchy Up Your Anus
3. Raping Your Mind
4. Bungle Grind
5. Methematics
6. Hell Awaits (Slayer cover) / Summer Breeze (Seals & Croft cover)
7. Eracist
8. World Up My Ass (Circle Jerks cover)
9. Glutton For Punishment
10. Hypocrites / Habla Español O Muere (S.O.D. cover)
11. Spreading The Thighs of Death
12. Loss For Words (Corrosion of Conformity cover)
13. Sudden Death
14. Loss of Control (Van Halen cover)
Lineup:
Mike Patton – Vocals, keyboards
Trevor Dunn – Bass, backing vocals
Trey Spruance – Guitar
Scott Ian – Guitar
Dave Lombardo – Drums
Record Label: Ipecac Recordings
     


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