Find us on Facebook!

To keep updated like our page at:

Or on Twitter:

Or E-mail us at:

Monday 2 November 2020

Reviews: Mr Bungle, Khaima, Helfir, Ruff Majik (Rich, Paul S, Paul H & Matt)

Mr. Bungle: The Raging Wrath Of The Easter Bunny Demo (Ipecac Records) [Rich Oliver]

It’s been a good while since we have heard anything from Mr. Bungle with the last album coming in the form of 1999’s brilliant California. After years of inactivity where the members of the band focused on other bands that in their words “pay the rent”, Mr. Bungle reformed for a handful of shows last year but rather than playing material off their three studio albums they went back to their origins. Back before Mr. Bungle became the genre hopping, leftfield, avant-garde act they are known for; they were originally a thrash metal band and in 1986 released a demo called The Raging Wrath Of The Easter Bunny. It is this material which they performed live at these shows and it has been lovingly re-recorded in 2020 and given its due respect.

The original three members of the band - Mike Patton on vocals, Trey Spruance on guitars and Trevor Dunn on bass - have been joined by the thrash metal royalty of Scott Ian (Anthrax, S.O.D.) on guitars and Dave Lombardo (Slayer, Suicidal Tendencies) on drums. The material on the 2020 version of The Raging Wrath Of The Easter Bunny is the majority of the 1986 demo plus with some material that was written and never recorded as well as some choice covers. It is high velocity crossover thrash with bags of speed and aggression but with the bands trademark wacky sense of humour running rampant throughout. In comparison to the original demo which was quite crude and sloppy everything has been tightened up and given a bit of an overhaul though it doesn’t deviate far from the source material. 

The production is of course crisp and full compared to the lack of production on the 1986 demo and the songs sound absolutely amazing with highlights including the relentless Raping Your Mind, the speed assault of Spreading The Thighs Of Death and the punk rock of Eracist. There are also fantastic covers of S.O.D. (Speak SPANISH Or Die) and Corrosion Of Conformity (Loss For Words). Mike Patton is a formidable vocalist with an inhuman range and he brings his A game here with snarls, screams and shrieks. With the level of skill in the line up the musicianship cannot be faulted.

The Raging Wrath Of The Easter Bunny joins a long list of severely good thrash metal releases in 2020. Though the material is 34 years old it sounds more vibrant than ever and this old school thrasher had a massive grin on his face throughout. Some of the songs do sound like they could have been cut down a bit and the 56 minute running time does mean there were a couple of times where my interest started to wane but when this album hits its stride it absolutely rages. Mr. Bungle show themselves to be as unpredictable as ever and it’s wonderful. 8/10

Khaima: Owing To The Influence (Barhill Records) [Paul Scoble]

Khaima have been in existence since 2015, in that time the band has only produced one Ep in 2016’s Kaima. The five piece are based in Germany and feature Sven Hill on Vocals, Toufik Bougherara on Guitar, Andreas Becker on Keyboards, Jo Rauber on Bass and Markus Scherer on Drums. The band have taken 4 years to make their debut, how have they spent the time?

Khaima’s style is a mix of Progressive Rock, Progressive Metal, Post Rock, and grunge. The progressive Rock/Metal has a healthy dose of doom injected into it, which results in some huge and heavy riffs, but this always seems to be tempered with the Post Rock parts with mellow clean guitar and gentle vocals. There are several places on the album where the riffing is closer to a Grunge style, this is probably most obvious in the track Partisanship, which is heavy, but with a huge groove to it. The vocals are one of the other ways that the grunge sound comes into the bands sound, as lead singer Sven Hill has a certain amount of Chris Cornell in how his vocals sound. The singing is a strong point on this album whether Sven is bellowing or singing softly in one of the aforementioned Post Rock sections.

One of the most interesting aspects of Khaima’s sound is the use of Keyboards. On most of the tracks the Keyboards back up the Guitar and Bass, giving several of the songs a nice little psychedelic edge. However, in a few places the keyboards take prominence and gives the album a bit of an electronic sound, reminiscent of the first wave of electronic music from the early eighties. The track Extrapolation features a segment like this where the Keyboard riff is higher in the mix than the Guitar riff, this makes the track sound far more electronic, in fact I thought that part was similar to what Gary Numan was doing in the first couple of years of the nineteen eighties.

Owing To The Influence is a very enjoyable album. There is an issue with several of the songs having a very similar structure of loud bit/quiet bit/loud bit/quiet bit, but this is a debut album. What is on offer is very palatable, great vocals, melodic riffs, great tunes and a huge amount of interesting ideas, but it could do with a little bit more complexity. I do think that this will come with time, for a band doing their first album and finding their feet, this a really great piece of work that they should feel rightly proud of. I have a feeling that Khaima are on the verge of great things; they’re not quite there yet, but I have a feeling that their next album could be fantastic! 7/10

Helfir: The Journey (My Kingdom Music) [Paul Hutchings]

A solo project by Italian Luca Mazzota, The Journey is the multi-instrumentalist's third release. A 50-minute journey of dark and atmospheric acoustic edged gothic rock. A classical student, support slots with Antimatter and Orphaned Land have honed his craft, with debut release Still Bleeding released in 2015 and the follow up The Human Defeat in 2017. The Journey is an impressive body of work. Mazzota deals with all the music and vocals, creating a melancholic soundscape that is both hypnotic and full of passion. Although the dark themes are consistent throughout, there is ample variation. Divided into three chapters, the first chapter is entitled Lying On a Blue Lawn, a four song section which opens with the electronica flavoured The Game. Serenely paced, the emotions are stretched throughout, with Mazzota throwing out some delicious guitar solos on In My Dream. Things get a bit heavier on The Past, with a full electronic assembly. It’s one of the standout songs on the album, sinister and moody, echoes of Katatonia in full flight. Clouds concludes chapter I, a lighter yet no less emotionally charged song. 

Chapter II is entitled Table Of Diners and starts with a dramatic intro to Into The Pale Lands. Mazzotta’s solo vocal compliments a persistent drum beat and low humming synth. It continues to evolve organically, the tracks flowing into each other, the dreamy No Escape concluding the second chapter. The final four tracks make up Chapter III, Tree Of the Abyss. The Chapter begins with the gloomy Traces Of You, a slow, misery-soaked song that climbs with some soaring guitar work. Uncensored is a narrative piece before this intriguing piece of work concludes with the longest track on the album, the six-minute Silent Path. A delicate and emotive song, it also features guest vocals from Tamara My which enhances the feelings that surge through it. Beautifully constructed and produced, The Journey is an intriguing and massively enjoyable album. Fans of Porcupine Tree, Anathema and Steve Wilson should enjoy this. 8/10

Ruff Majik: The Devil's Cattle (Mongrel Records) [Matt Bladen]

Sometimes, complicated, intelligent music can be a little too much, there are times when you just need a good rocking! Happily bands such as Ruff Majik exist to scratch that itch. Hailing from South Africa this third album is the band's first collaboration between founding member Johni Holliday (guitar, vocals) and new member (but longtime producer) Evert Snyman (guitar, vocals, keys, percussion) with the rest of these 'sludge n rollers' consisting of Cowboy Van (guitar, bass, keys, harmonica), Jimmy Glass (bass, guitar) and Benni Manchino (drums, percussion). 

Now on this third album they have taken things down to the Devil inspired by a German folk tale of the "Devil ploughing his fields with a bunch of his finest cattle, who got really tired and stopped for a rest, which angered the Devil, so he threw his hat at them. This spooked/enraged the cattle, so they took off in hundreds of different directions, still dragging the ploughs, and ended up carving out the intricate rivers of the (river) Spreewald." 

It was this story that inspired the title track but elsewhere there are odes to addiction on the Lead Pills And Thrills which brings some piano led rollicking, a track that has the filthy fuzz of QOTSA as does first single Who Keeps Score where the stylish garage rock of Homme et al, something that creeps in more and more towards the end of this 13 song album. Elsewhere though there is a strong mixture of B-Movie Schlock, drug-addled psych on Born To Be Bile and some Wolfmother-esque histrionics with the dual low/falsetto vocal styles for the heavy riffing Shrug Of The Year/Heart Of An Alligator along with the more laid back tunes such as God Knows, that all are blended together through a straightforward heavy rock attitude. Nothing complicated here but as I said that is exactly why it's so satisfying, turn it up loud! 7/10      

No comments:

Post a Comment