REVIEW: MR. BUNGLE – “The Night They Came Home”
“The Night They Came Home” is the DVD/BluRay/CD/VHS release of Mr. Bungle’s Halloween live stream of the same name performed in 2020.
During the show, they smashed out a set of classics from their 35-year-old recently released album “The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny Demo” as well as a bunch of covers. Some explanation may be required here; It was the first album they recorded together back in 1986 however it was neglected in favor of their major-label albums “Mr Bungle” (1990), “Disco Volante” (1996), and “California” (1999).
Fast forward 20 years since the days of the smelting pot of genres they once were, Mr Bungle appeared out of nowhere in 2020 to perform a run of shows and re-record Raging Wrath with original 3 members Mike Patton, Trey Spruance, and Trevor Dunn as well as Scott Ian of Anthrax and Dave Lombardo of Slayer and Fantomas.
What we have here is a moderately simplistic setting with no real frills apart from a little lighting in a library setting. With the current scene of live streams released lately being an amalgam of good takes, you can imagine my surprise when Mr Bungle’s show was relatively simple, raw, and incredible!
Kicking off with their creepy take of Fred Rogers “Won’t You Be My Neighbor” followed with “Anarchy Up Your Anus”, the direction of the event is quite predictable from here but performed incredibly and to great comedic effect! At times there is a guest audience member that shows up like Henry Rollins who is reading a book, gives them the finger and tells them that they’re great, and Josh Homme who gives a robotic clap and pushes his chair back to fall on a couch, continuing to clap. Other times, the band can be seen sipping espresso coffee, asking viewers if anyone is on meth, and trying to get a chant for Mr Bungle going in the empty library.
It’s a super silly affair but also super impressive! It still strikes me odd that they have returned to their Thrash roots, I’m not really the biggest fan of the genre but heck they make it sound interesting and engaging to the point where I’m sold on it!
It could be the vocal delivery of Patton, His energy levels throughout the show are overpoweringly energetic and (expectedly) amazing. I don’t think I’ve heard Lombardo play so well and he doesn’t seem to break a sweat. Dunn’s performance is serviceable though understated, still tight as heck and his vocals compliment Patton perfectly in this context. Ian just chugs away off to the side with a sh*t-eating grin on his face the entire time, then you have Spruance. If there’s a strangeness from the band that still exists in the music, apart from the whistles and silly lyrics, it would be in Spruances playing. The guy hammers out some of the most insane solos you’ll ever hear! Think Kerry King but if his solos were actually good.
I touched on this briefly; the production. It’s raw but GREAT! There’s no real attempt at being the most razor-tight band, they’re just having fun and you can hear it! None of the guys were wearing IEMs and the guitars are split with Spruance to the left and Ian to the right, Patton and Dunns vocal mics, and the vibe that struck in the library that night.
The sound quality itself is fantastic but not overly squeaky clean, the visuals aren’t fantastic and it’s not performed in some secret lair somewhere or on a rooftop, it’s just simple and fun.
This is where I give the production the most credit; So many other bands have tried to make live streams into cinematic style masterpieces with over-the-top production yada yada which is fine for casual entertainment. I think what Mr Bungle has done here is admirable. It’s akin to a club show. It’s a slice of normalcy that us in lockdown have been missing for a while, like going to your local and watching a band do a thing.
The experience is made better when it’s a mixture of original material and covers from Fred Rogers, Slayer, Circle Jerks, S.O.D, and Van Halen. It is FUN and it’s supposed to BE FUN!
Whether you’re into Mr Bungle or not, The Night They Came Home is a refreshing slab of metal and jacka*sery that’ll make you headbang and laugh. Pour beer and urine on your lounge room floor and you have the complete dive bar experience with no need to call an Uber!