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A Bi-Polar, Genre-bending, Heavy Metal Circus - 95%

Superchard, September 1st, 2018

Despite being his first band as early as his high school years, Mike Patton's Mr. Bungle was put on the back-burner for a full length studio album playing second fiddle to his much more well-known band he stepped into to replace Chuck Mosley on vocals, Faith No More. Personally, i didn't like either of these bands when I first heard them, but that's the funny thing about ALL of Mike Patton's bands. I always end up going from hating them in the very beginning, finding that there was some unique appeal to the music that would draw me back in and slowly just getting used to it to the point I would just obsess over it. This happened for me with Faith No More, and then it happened with Mr. Bungle. Not much later it happened again with Fantomas and Tomahawk. Even after that, I found myself getting digging into his oddball pop and hip hop efforts with Peeping Tom and The X-ecutioners.

Mr. Bungle's debut was the one that really drew me in, probably because at the time I was a big fan of Mike Patton's debut with Faith No More. It doesn't sound much like The Real Thing, but at least Mike Patton was singing in the same vocal style before he went on to experiment with his voice on releases like Angel Dust and Disco Volante. It's worth mentioning; however, that Mr. Bugnle's earlier demo recordings did feature a much more aggressive sounding Patton, but I, just as I'm willing to bet most other metal fans tend to go straight for the jugular with a band's full length releases first, and if I like them enough only then start to explore the back catalogue. So I'd say that Mr. Bungle was a good place for me personally to start my journey into their music even if I didn't really like it right off the bat.

I just thought the album was plain silly and couldn't take it seriously with songs like "Carousel". I had much the same reaction to it as I did with Faith No More's "Epic". It was like a mixture of ska, evil carnival music and heavy metal. It was well over my head at the age of fourteen and at that age I was more into bands like Voivod, Razor and Kreator. In other words, I liked my metal loud, pissed off and assertive, not coming off as a band that's just playing music as if it were some kind of joke. I was impressed by it though. I was impressed by every member's contribution to the band. Trey Spruance was able to play the guitar in every way imaginable and I'd argue he was the best guitarist Faith No More ever had, although perhaps never surpassed Jim Martin's contributions to a Faith No More record, speaking solely on the topic of Faith No More's outputs.

If there was any gateway song on this album for me, it was "My Ass is on Fire" which was pretty metal all the way through, and despite its immature name was a serious affair in contrast to the rest of the album. It also had a more tangible approach to songwriting that made it feel more 'normal' than songs like "Egg" which would completely deconstruct itself half-way through. Then that short bridge came along with Mike Patton "You knew all along, GOD DAMNIT" before letting out the craziest scream I'd ever heard him commit to tape at that point... "Look at you NOOOOOOWWWWW" in all of its distorted mic glory. This moment converted me, but as you'd expect it wasn't a smooth transition that just happened overnight after hearing this one display of pseudo-thrash mixed with demented circus music, but had it not been for this song and the ridiculously catchy but goofy chorus to "Carousel", which Mike doesn't even have lyrics for, he just kind of throws his voice all over the place in an obtuse yet melodic fashion that couldn't have been done if there were lyrics. This was my introduction to Mr. Bungle, and it made Faith No More a much easier listen by comparison.

"Love is a Fist" was another one that really helped me get into Mr. Bungle. A very bizarre take on the crossover thrash metal over the era that was being popularized by bands like Suicidal Tendencies. Apart from "My Ass is on Fire" and "Love is a Fist", everything else was more or less a challenge for me, but as I kept exposing myself to it, it began to sink in to me that sometimes not taking a musical project so seriously can really turn out for the better for the music. It allows the artist to come across in a more genuine and honest manner. I imagine what "Love is a Fist" would sound like if Mike Patton didn't have the audacity to be himself and instead tried to emulate the vocals of whoever else he thought was doing a great job as a thrash metal vocalist, Tom Araya for example. It would have come across as bizarre still thanks to the band's wacky songwriting, but Mike Patton kind of gives the album a cartoon quality to it, fitting as he would later release Suspended Animation with Fantomas. His mumbling vocals on "Dead Goon" give the listener the impression that he's not taking this seriously and being obnoxious, but then he sings properly and because of this delicate dance between what a listener does and probably doesn't want to hear, I think many can agree that Mike Patton is a singer like none other.

I don't come back to this album as often as the band's last release, California, but of the three Mr. Bungle albums, this is probably the best for someone that's strictly looking for heavy metal. California was a full blown avant-garde album where as Disco Volante was still metal, just wildly inaccessible for the average Joe. Meanwhile this album keeps things fairly streamlined by comparison despite its genre bending, the acquired taste for Patton's vocals, and band's tendency to go full blown psychotic in the middle of songs that have all the characteristics of 'songs'. To this day, the only song I don't much care for is the first track, "Quote Unquote" which just stays on the same beaten path a little too long for my liking with its bouncing clown music. There's some neat jazzy divergences, but the overall basis the song is founded on I don't much care for.

They'd go on to prove that there are still, in fact many, many barriers to break down and that music can get much more unorthodox than this. If you think songs like "Stubb (a Dub)" are off their rocker, at least they are comprised in a way to make them pleasant to listen to for someone to be challenged by it but still see something in it and come back to it again and again as I did. It's a back and forth wild ride between the hilarious and gravely serious as well as the normal and the psychotic. Similar to the euphoria vs the unrelenting fear one may experience while on wicked psychedelics. It's comparable to the good clown/evil clown trope you see all the time in media, for example the wrestler Doink the Clown. or The Joker. Maybe it's going to smash your head with a cartoonishly giant mallet or maybe it's just going to make a disturbing face at you until you are visibly uncomfortable and proceed to just settle with popping your balloon and laugh maniacally. There is just no in-between with Mr. Bungle.

Cirque du Bungle - 95%

ribs_gibson, July 26th, 2018

Not sure why I'm reviewing this album in 2018, but recently I've been going back to the early Patton days and finding some of his involved works more enjoyable than I once thought. Being a huge fan of Patton / Bungle and most of the projects he has been involved in as well as the other members (Spruance, Dunn), I thought I'd have a go on each Mr. Bungle record in chronological order (forgive me I'm an amateur reviewer). Though this is still my least favorite of the three, it's still a highly enjoyable release and still holds some value almost 30 years later in the sense of its' unpredictability and diverseness.
I think I was about four months old when this officially came out and even though my parents have some good taste in rock music, I'm pretty sure they weren't jamming this back in the day. If I can remember I was first introduced to Faith No More which shortly led me to Mr. Bungle. And man, what a trip!

Anyways, this is definitely a band worth getting into at any rate from their first to last album. Still can't believe Warner Bros. held on to Bungle for their next two releases, for they jumped right outta the gate with immense talent and uniqueness but also a great amount of immaturity and childishness... And I love it still to this day. I guess the genre could be considered metal / experimental rock, but honestly after countless listens I still can't quite put my finger on what Bungle truly was , is, whatever. With so many ideas and themes spiraling in and out of control all I can say is the artwork only slightly resembles the circus unfolding on "Mr. Bungle". From Hitler and John Travolta to being oddly obsessed with food or not so oddly to pornos, this album might just find your niche. You ever lose a dog? They've got your tears covered. In my opinion this album is obviously heavily themed on a circus and for some reason with more repeated listens it somehow drags you in deeper and deeper with each session. Maybe it's just me but after all the strange experimental / avant-garde stuff I've listened to and experienced Mr. Bungle's debut still ranks close to the top on my biggest WTF albums of all time.

At times super catchy and at other times quite revolting (try Squeeze Me Macaroni or Stubb (A Dub) "Mr. Bungle" is quite possibly one of the best love / hate albums for myself as well. Definitely an album that requires a certain mood, albeit a "drunken" mood perhaps. I can easily listen to "California" any time on any occasion but for the debut it's definitely like being at a strange circus, sober or not. At times I'm laughing and at others I'm scratching my head thinking, man I wish I was around in the early 90's old enough to see how other listeners were generally reacting. Early early early Mike Patton was a bit of an odd rare gem, especially in "Mr. Bungle". History aside, Patton has always had incredible range and him being chosen for FNM was an easy pick, but as big as both bands are / were it's easy to tell which Patton had more control or range on "Mr. Bungle" compared to "The Real Thing". From time to time you can hear that nasally, whiny style in which he possessed in TRT, but to me and still to this day this was the first taste of things to come for Patton's wild transition into his more matured and controlled voice in the later FNM records. Guess he got tired of the Axl Rose comparisons or he just had the ability and balls to just say fuck it, I'm changing, but nonetheless it works either way. I'd say this is the definite Mike Patton vocal performance alongside "Angel Dust" as I think Mr. Bungle and Patton definitely had other agendas for the next record. Trey Spruance is pretty much amazing at anything he does as well as Trevor Dunn and Heifetz. I mean at this point it's almost embarrassing having to explain why or how each member of a band such as is good at what they do "lulz". I'll just say these guys even from their demo days to high school performances just had that knack and finally polished it with a good studio and recording team. Extremely strange even for 1991, but extremely talented in almost every aspect.

I hate doing track by track but the only real reason this doesn't get any higher of a score is due to a few duds on the album, at least for me. Even though the hilariously over-the-top lyrics and catchy tunes have me bobbing my head along still every now and then, I find myself usually skipping Squeeze Me Macaroni and The Girls of Porn. Not bad tracks really, just after how many times I've spun this album they're easily my least favorite from the album. Nothing against mac n' cheese or porn, just these tracks show the bands early immaturity and lack of focus as I mentioned earlier. The only other reason would be the sometimes unnecessarily long outros or filler on some of the tracks, such as Egg. Whatever not that big of a deal, as I usually just find myself skipping past all those parts now anyways.

Not really sure how to summarize the beginning of Mr. Bungle's short, but goddamn amazingly weird full length career. In my own words I'd say a bunch of young kids with immense talent being goofy doing their own thing but still trying to find what they're really wanting to do. Maybe Mr. Bungle was never that kind of band from the very beginning and they most likely never were giving the true nature of each of their LP's...But.... whatever was going on in that time and place and for what it was worth, it happened and it worked. Though Bungle was signed to Warner Bros. Faith No More's Patton was unintentionally or unfairly overshadowing Bungle's Patton after "Epic" and rightfully so... Two completely different bands with completely different agendas. I still think Bungle was Patton's true outlet and some people love Bungle hate FNM and vice versa. It's all history now and what you should be doing if you haven't already is try listening to at least the first track from this album Quote, Unquote or "Travolta". It all goes downhill from there my friends, as this is probably the kind of circus you only want to attend every now and then, but hey if that's your kind of thing, then it's probably already too late. Classic debut, classic band.

You Bungled It! - 98%

psychoticnicholai, July 23rd, 2018
Written based on this version: 1991, CD, Warner Bros. Records

There were a lot of people out there that considered Faith no More to be an extremely weird band. That rings true, but they were still relatively reserved and balanced compared to the other band Mike Patton fronted. Enter the disgusting genius pervert funk n’ roll clown himself, Mr. Bungle! This was the band where everything got darker, weirder, funnier, and more unhinged. It was also where Mike Patton originally came from, likely contributing to the avant-garde, genre-jumping insanity of Faith no More’s Angel Dust just a year after this album dropped. However, Mr. Bungle’s self-titled debut album is bigger, darker, and stranger than that with everything being more metallic, yet also drawing from a similarly diverse array of genres. This album is one of the peak examples of how something can be demented, but also boatloads of fun.

While Mr. Bungle go in tons of weird directions and incorporate genres ranging everywhere from funk to ska to circus music and lounge jazz, what holds this thing together is a solid backbone of metal that the songs memorable along with their genre-mashing diversity and length-pushing ambition. Said backbone is a mixture of delicious groovy riffs and surprisingly punchy funk dripping wet with distortion to make everything more acidic and delicious. Though, even the most memorable of the songs have a whacked-out and almost hallucinogenic quality to them that comes not just from the wacky breaks and different effects, but from the synergy of the instruments themselves. Right from the start of “Quote Unquote” you can tell you’ll be entering the tunnels of insanity with how the synthesizer lines mesh with the guitars to make a warped and disturbing vision of a heavy metal freakshow with strong funky undertones come to life. Transitions are drastic and sudden, often from relaxing lounge bits or swinging funk turning into horrific keyboard slams or sudden heavy guitars chiming in. Somehow Mr. Bungle holds to that backbone strongly enough to avoid turning their music into a mess and instead it comes off as daring and decisive despite (or perhaps because of) the potpourri of sounds on offer.

Another strength of this album is its ability to elicit a diverse array of feelings from the listener and make such feelings as strong and as gratifying as possible. Moshing to a song called “My Ass is on Fire” or “Love is a Fist” may sound it’ll get uncomfortable, but these songs pack such a punch that I’d honestly risk it thanks to Trey Spruance’s spastic, funky, and bouncy guitar play. That’s great for getting the anger out. This album can also freak you out at one moment and then make you collapse from laughter the next. This is where Mike Patton comes in and he sounds as though he’s fresh back from Faith no More with how he moves between singing, shouting, and making all manner of silly narrations that play into both the horror and the humor of this. Some of the stuff this guy sings about is so perverted and surreal that you’d swear you were in the middle of an X-rated Peewee’s Playhouse starring Mr. Vlad Drac Patton himself. From lyrics about limbless carnie freaks, to sexually violating fast food mascots, to the gross bits of a dog’s life, to shouting in the listener’s face for daring to look at him, the things said on this album are exceptional in just how batshit the lyrics get. It also makes for some humor that’s killer enough to make you fall out of your chair. Even when you aren’t laughing, it’s hard not to be transfixed by all the weird stuff going on.

This leads to a lot of moments on Mr. Bungle that become memorable in and of themselves. I already talked about the distorted funky riffs of Trey Spruance since they make up the most prominent part of the instrumentation. Odd offerings that stand out are abundant on this thing and go beyond the guitars. Producer and jazz legend John Zorn comes in squealing like a speeding squeegee on “Love is a Fist” almost as if to give the band’s regular saxophonist a sharp contrast to his swing-like rhythms. The transition from “Carousel” to “Egg” features samples from one of the Mario games. And chances are you might end up quoting some of the things Mike Patton says here, least of all “Thanks Mom!” not to mention some of the choruses. There’s all sorts of little fun tidbits that you find while listening to this thing, and so many of them that it’ll take you a few spins to find them all. But that’s all fine and dandy since the heavy funky bounce of this thing is something you’ll want to come back to with the jazzier and more circus-like passages acting as interesting, yet integral diversions.

In addition to cranking up the levels of acid-induced craziness already seen on Faith no More, Mr. Bungle hits harder, brings even more diversity of styles, and ties it all together in a thrilling, creepy circus-funk-metal package. This album is something to admire for not only how creative and diverse it is, but also how well it all holds together and how ambitiously it builds its songs with two parts force and four parts fun. It’ll have you jumping, moshing, laughing, and screaming all at different points and it will feel great. Sometimes embracing the madness can be a great thing, but it really helps if there’s some interesting wacky stories and catchy heavy funk riffs to give it one hell of a swingin’ rhythm. If you’re ready to take things to the next level from Faith no More’s oddity, this is the album to go to. It’s darker and wackier than that band, but also more metallic and still catchy with a real penchant for creativity. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to go bounce around babbling like a maniac to this thing.

Nobler then Oedipus, and they make better music - 100%

Leperous, May 25th, 2010

Why do people like music?

If you are a fan of music, you might have asked yourself this question once in our lives. And since this is the Encyclopedia Mettalum I have to ask “Why do we like metal?” Is it the grinding guitar and bass? Is it the distortion, the heaviness, the image and mentality of the bands? Or is it the lyrics, the fast pounding drums, the overall difference from mainstream music? What could it be! I have been asking myself this a lot lately, and I feel that I like metal because it is all of the above. The fact that some bands tour, and go around the country and world to play for shows from sizes of small bars with forty to fifty people max, to large outdoor venues that can hold several hundred/thousands shows dedication. I find that the relationship between a metal band and their audience is vastly different than jazz, blues, and pop music for the most part. Although I find that the metal community is one that can be very alienating between fans, whether it be lack of similar genres, bands or personality, in the end I like to think that 60-70% of us can still all jump into a mosh pit together, head bang, and pat each other on the back, laughing and sharing the memories that make up a metal heads life.

Every now and then though, I happen upon strange and unique bands. When I listen to them, it makes me go “Why would anyone like this music?” Now generally these bands are terrible and do not know how to make good music. They can be extremely talented, like [Insert technical death metal/progressive/gothic/dark metal bands) but they might not be great songwriters or maybe the head of the band is more of a fan of Band A than the other members who are into Band B. This happens a lot in music. However, what happens when you take a band that has been together for years, and are incredible musicians and songwriters, and have them make this esoteric, foreign, and abstract music that nearly no one would be able to listen to without saying “WHAT IN GOD’S NAME AM I LISTENING TO!?!” at least once?

Well, that is how I would sum up Mr. Bungle in a short paragraph. Since I have more than a short paragraph I will go more in-depth, but I will say this right now; if you don’t like progressive music, if you gag at the word avant-garde and experimental, and cannot find yourself listening to songs that contain many weird sounds and rapid genre changes, than this is NOT for you! It took me a long time to just get used to listening to Mr. Bungle, let alone enjoying them. If you honestly want to hear some unique, weird, and genius music from a band that should be bigger than half the bands out there, keep reading.

As I said before, this album has many genres in it. It can go from surfer to carnival, heavy metal to ska, funk to… I don’t know, some of the things they play I really can’t describe as a genre. They generally stick to only 2-3 genres a song, while some can contain more than 4-5 and some can be very straightforward like Girls of Porn which is a funk song, and Love is a Fist which happens to be a ska song. Of course there are things in those songs that usually don’t belong in the genre but looking at the overall picture one would deduce that those songs are funk/ska.

Although Mr. Bungle is on metal-archives, this album is probably the third least metal album they recorded, with God Damn I Love America and California being the second and first least metal albums. However it does have metal in its blood, something no one can deny when they hear the song My Ass is on Fire or Carnival. And as much as I would kill (I would choose Mr. Bungle reunion tickets over a random strangers life anyday) to see this band live, I am confused on what I would do at the concert. It’s weird-ass music. There are parts that we can mosh to I guess, as well as head bang. I guess I could go around and pat other people on the back and laugh and share memories, but to me it would feel strange. I can’t drink legally either. I would still go though. Some would say “why bother going to see a band live if you can’t mosh or head bang or get drunk?” Well I shun those people for the most part. Look up a live show of Mr. Bungle and it really puts nearly every band to shame in terms of playing ability and co-ordination. Their Halloween video where they mock the Red Hot Chili Peppers is classic as well, and even if you hate Mr. Bungle, you will find yourself laughing at one point in that video. Sorry I got off-track though, back to the review.

This album is what I would call ‘gentle insanity’. It follows little structure, and the only sane person seems to be the drummer. It’s not like other albums like Cryptopsy’s None So Vile, Autopsy’s Severed Survival, or Suffocation’s Effigy of the Forgotten. This album is very insane, but it presents itself in an organized and thoughtful manner. It seems the one song people rave about on here is Girls of Porn, and I disagree with them. Great song yes, but is it the song that makes this album bearable, enjoyable or worth listening? No, since this (in my opinion) is a concept album, you have to listen to the whole thing to get the picture, but more on that later.

The bass playing on really this album is one of the best things about this album, and this band in general. Trevor Dunn is one of my favorite bass players, and you will find tons of killer bass riffs in this album. The horns and synthesizers from Clinton McKinnon add that unique touch to this bands sound. The fact that they are all real instruments is also very nice, I kind of get tired of string synths and stuff. They are being constantly used throughout every song, but they usually manage to find their way in at least one part or another. The drums like I said earlier are one of the few things that make sense.

Danny Heifetz has some interesting beats, using cymbals, maraca’s, tambourines, etc. One thing classic metal heads won’t like about this are the ‘lack’ of guitar riffs. And, while this irked me at first, people forget that Trey Spruance is a rhythm guitarist, and thus, he just plays with the rhythm, which he does in a lot of songs. The guitar parts for Squeeze Me Macaroni accentuate and go well with the groovy bass line and bouncing drum beat. My favorite song guitar wise is My Ass is on Fire. It’s heavy, and the intro riff is so strange. The first time I looked at it on tablature I thought “Who would think of doing this?” It’s not just the fact that Trey is a rhythm guitarist. Finally we reach the vocal section.

Who is Mike Patton? He is the vocalist for Faith No More, Fantomas, Peeping Tom, Tomahawk, etc. What makes him special? That answer is simply diversity. You wouldn’t sing like you were playing the blues if you were in a thrash band. You wouldn’t do high-pitched screams over a hip-hop beat. Mike Patton uses his voice as an instrument. He sings clearly and beautifully, or he can throw a flurry of noises at you. He has one of the most diverse ranges, and like most things, he gets better as he ages. Check out Disco Volante if you want to hear the cackling of a pure madman or California if you want to hear the simple celestial voice Mike got famous for.

I am not going to even talk about production value in this review. Mr. Bungle was signed to Warner Bros., how good do you think it’s going to be? However I will mention that there is no one ‘voice’ that is ever drowned out or forgotten. You can hear things pretty clearly, and it is a relief when listening to extreme metal and punk for days on end. Also, every note is meaningful. The members aren’t trying to prove something. They have amazing technical capabilities, but they prefer good songwriting over mindless jibber jabber. There is also something called ‘dynamics’ on this album. Dynamics are the measuring of how loud a note/instrument is when it is played. Most albums these days (especially within the death metal scene) like to mix their songs with everything turned up to the max. Now this doesn’t mean that I hate all music like that or that it is bad, but having varying volume ranges and not having every instrument screaming for your sole attention makes the music much more enjoyable, which is why we listen and buy music correct?

Now the entire album seems to revolve around this reoccurring theme of clowns, carnivals, childhood and the dark themes that come with it like death (Stubb, Dead Goon), torture/mutilation (My Ass is on Fire), and abuse (Love is a Fist/Quote Unquote) and last but not least sex (Girls of Porn, Squeeze Me Macaroni) It is sick, demented, and twisted and it is scarier than most metal if you think about it. While listening to Dead Goon which, according to almightyjoey is the tale “of an asphyxiophile clown that escapes mockery from his peers by choking himself, but accidentally hangs himself one night and dies,” the constantly changing vocals of Mike Patton and the groovy bass line contrast the unusual lyrics of the song. Near the end of the song, there is the sound of creaking wood, with Trey play chords and Trevor playing notes on the bass. Mike sings in this lullaby fashion, and the things are moving from right to left and left to right. As it gets closer to the end, Mike makes these chocking sounds. The effect that makes is so strange, and it is something I have never heard before.

Bands like Dog Fashioned Disco, Butthole Surfers, Flipper, and Fantomas are similar bands to Mr. Bungle that really interest me. These are all great bands, and if you like Mr. Bungle, you will more then likely enjoy at least one of those aforementioned bands. If you don't like Mr. Bungle, you still might like one of those bands. That is why I like avant-garde/experimental music. Ones idea of avant-garde can be very different from another, and it opens a huge window for opportunities. I actually considered Butthole Surfers the ‘Mr. Bungle’ of hardcore punk, but I think I take that back since Butthole Surfers were around before Mr. Bungle. So, Mr. Bungle is the ‘Butthole Surfers’ of thrash metal since that is where Mr. Bungle began in 1985. Unlike the Butthole Surfers, the members of Mr. Bungle didn’t take LSD, Peyote, or any other hallucinogens. People think that if you are ‘outside the norm’ you must be a pill-popping-baby-punting-bat-out-of-hell, but that’s not true. Look at Frank Zappa; he was an incredible composer, artist, and guitarist. He started listening to R & B and blues, and moved on from their. Listening to Mr. Bungle’s earlier stuff shows that they have unusual shifts in music taste; however this only added and personified their sound. Their first full length is a result of all that experimentation.

Now, the only true flaw of this album in my opinion is explaining it to others (kind of ironic because I am doing so with you, the reader right now). I think the problem is with the genre of avant-garde. Some people consider Meshuggah ‘avant-garde’ and I find that offensive. I mean, how is chugging and playing in weird time signatures ‘avant-garde’? Melvins, Celtic Frost and Boris to be much more avant-garde then Meshuggah, but that’s beside the point. I generally just say that Mr. Bungle is, “just some band from Eureka, California and that they play weird music,” but they are so much more then that. I want to explain them in-depth, talk about my favorite songs, what I felt about their releases. I own all of the Mr. Bungle full lengths, and I have downloaded their demos. The sheer diversity in this band over their period on earth rivals any other I have heard, but that is debatable because I have not heard every musical group's discography yet.

Now if you are just scrolling down to read the conclusion, remember this. Mr. Bungle is more then a band. They are their own identity. They have done something only few bands could do before them, and they managed to surpass their predecessors. If you give this little number a spin and someone questions you, you give them what’s what! If they say “Why do they change so often?” or “This isn’t music, it’s just noise,” you tell them music has no rules; never has, never will. Breaking the rules society deems safe is what makes a great musician. Remember, music is art! Keep on supporting great musicians, great bands, and great entertainers. Good entertainment is hard to find it seems nowadays. We have all these distractions around us. Take a ride to the carnival and unwind a bit.

"Thanks, Mom!" - 90%

almightyjoey, November 26th, 2009

Mr. Bungle, as you'll have gathered, are a weird band. They explored entire genres of music within one track, and then changed completely for the next one. Bands like Slipknot and Incubus actually tried to copy their sound on their earliest albums (the latter actually admits it in the liner notes of their 1995 'Fungus Amongus' album). While they're valiant efforts, nothing comes close to the talent or ability of the musicians on this album.

This record came out of nowhere. Early-nineties, when grunge and noise rock were popular, and nothing that new was happening, save for the death of glam. Nothing, at the time, was like this record. The only thing I can think of is John Zorn's Naked City album, but since he both produced and played a lot of saxophone on this album, it doesn't feel right to call the two albums different entities. That's not to say this is a jazz record- not by any stretch of the imagination- but it is explored. You already knew that from other reviews, though. It saves repeating, though. They also experiment in noise, surf, funk, avant-garde, thrash metal, Kecak, and pretty much excusively on this album, carnival music.

That's right, while this album isn't necessarily a concept album, it certainly feels like one. While each song is drastically different in sound, the whole album feels like one solid body, whether in theme, lyrics, sound or placement on the album. Lyrically, clowns are involved a lot (even on the one song they aren't mentioned, they featured in the banned music video, dangling from meat hooks). Musically, the carnival theme is explored drastically, too. From the seemingly weathered keyboards in Dead Goon, to the mad laughter and guitar chords in Carousel to the arcade and game show sound effects throughout the album. Even if it was a bad album, it's respectable to be able to make songs sound so different and feel so unified. But the thing is...it's not a bad album. Not at all.

It's certainly a grower, though. As a fan of Mike Patton and Trey Spruance, it makes me ashamed to say that I only actually heard this album last year. It taken me until a few months later to genuinely like. And, as of the start of this month, I can call it one of my favourite albums. When I first heard it, I was obviously more taken with the more 'normal' songs on the album, like Carousel and My Ass Is On Fire (but you can tell from the title that it's hardly "normal" at all), but I wasn't sure if I liked the musical vomiting and impressions of the movie Blue Velvet on the respective tracks. I think once those clicked, the whole album did.

With that said, though, there's still a lot to get into from there. For example, a lot of the tracks are a lot longer than they actually seem on the track listing. For example, Stubb (A Dub) is on for 7 minutes plus, but about 5 minutes of that is an actual song, while the remainder is pretty much taken up by film samples and sound effects. It certainly helps the atmosphere of the album as a whole, but it's not something you'd want to listen to on your mp3 player as a stand-alone track.

Once you understand it, though, it's utterly fantastic. The talent on this album is incredible. The guitar chords on the beginning of Carousel by Trey Spruance, the vocals and keyboards on Dead Goon, the drums on My Ass Is On Fire, The bass on The Girls Of Porn, the brass on Squeeze Me Macaroni...it's all utterly amazing. What I think, in reflection, my favourite thing about this album is how light-hearted and freaky this album can get, often at the same time. Egg is a playful song that ends in complete musical chaos and Carousel is a song that pretty much sums up the warm, innocent feeling a child gets at a funfair, but once the narrator vomits, he is laughed at by a chorus of distorted clowns. And (I apologise for bringing it up so often, it's just THAT amazing), on Dead Goon, the whole song tells the story from the viewpoint of an asphyxiophile clown that escapes mockery from his peers by choking himself, but accidentally hangs himself one night and dies. Only Mr. Bungle could incorporate poppy choruses with clean vocals into a song that dark.

In summary, I like to think of the album as that weird kid you knew in school. You know the one. The kid that sat at the back of the class, with not too many friends. The one that sat alone and made weird noises to himself. This is like that. It doesn't really care what you think of it, but you can tell it has fun, whatever you think of it. games. And, once you understand the weird kid, it probably ends up being a really cool guy, and a close friend.

It's A Madhouse!! - 100%

elfo19, May 1st, 2009

Listening to this debut album by Mr. Bungle really makes the listener feel like he or she is either in a madhouse, a possesed circus, or an insane asylum. No music I have ever heard before is more demented and challenging than this, except for maybe Mr. Bungle's second album.

Right from the beginning it is a rush of madness. The album begins with the sound of glass shattering before we are hit with one of the most menacing riffs to ever grace a compact disc. Throughout the album's opener, "Quote Unquote" the listener is confronted with screeching saxophones, thrashing guitars, peculiar sound effects, radical tempo changes, and, of course, a wide array of strange noises that vocalist Mike Patton makes. The song sets the pace for the album, and while one thinks it could not get any weirder than this opening track, it does. One of the strangest songs, "Stubb (A Dub)", features lyrics like, "cause you're a fuckin dog", and "If you can here me, then throw up." While these lines sound very childish and foolish written down, I can assure you they sound much better when paired with the musical cacophony this album presents.

To actually attempt to describe the music on this disc is difficult, but a task I'm willing to take on. One of the major focuses of the album is the hundreds upon hundreds of tempo changes within every song. Along with these tempo changes there are also style changes, which means that a song can go from being a slow funk to raging death metal in the blink of an eye. The music is so chaotic and challenging it is occasionally stressful for the listener.

But one thing I can reccomend is to not give up on this disc. The first several listens will be difficult, but the album gets much better, Once you get to the point where you've listened to it enough, the tempo and style changes seem to fit, the chaos becomes more contained, and the musical experience becomes magical. Each song is performed with such precision, such musical technique it becomes amazing after repeated listens.

Which brings me to the band. This is one skilled bunch of musicans. No typical band could play this music. It is so intricate, so complicated, it would require technique and musical skill beyond most normal people. The ability to pull off the style changes of this disc (which in case I haven't mentioned it yet occur at least once a minute, and often every ten seconds or so) must be extremely difficult. So, I give this band major credit, as not only have they written this beautifully complex music, but they are actually able to play it. Especially the drummer deserves credit as he plays through this disc with such intensity and keeping to the disjointed, barely rhythmic structures, perfectly, literally holding the music together and preventing it from turning into a mess of dissonance.

But occasionally the band actually wants to the music to turn into a mess of dissonance, which is precisely the beauty of it. The end of "My Ass Is On Fire" has the band playing each of their instruments as loud as they possibly can as Patton shrieks over the spastic wall of sound. When you think it can't get any louder, or any crazier, it does just that. It builds and builds until it all disappears at once, leaving with only silence and a single voice speaking the words, "Help me, I'm lost."

I don't know about you, but this kind of stuff really gets me excited. It's artsy and avant-garde, but at the same time completely musical, which is something Patton rarely achieves with his other side projects. It's breathtaking and fabulous and like nothing else.

I'd try to describe the actual music more, but it really is something you just have to experience yourself. Even if you don't really like the music, you have to admit it is unique, and even if you don't want to say so, it is worth a listen, and many more. As I said before, it gets better, and better, and better. Each time I listen to it I pick out something different. There is a point where the music is mass chaos with a repeating guitar riff layered with layers of static and clashing cymbals, which all stops for a moment just so Mike Patton can softly say, "Boo!", something I didn't pick up until probably my tenth listen.

So, give this disc a shot, because if you are open-minded when it comes to music then it will grow on you, and the little nuances of it will start to stick into your brain and make the music get increasingly more entertaining. To sum it all up in a single sentence: Mr. Bungle's debut is a challenging, but rewarding musical experience which breaks new ground, and forces the listener to pay attention to the music unlike ever before. This disc is a masterpiece of modern avant-garde, and music in general.

Some good, but at it's core, really awful crap. - 40%

TallManPhantasm, May 25th, 2007

Mr. Bungle was Mike Patton's first band, before any of the crazy stuff like Fantomas. This is their first full length, and a majority of this is pretty bad. No, really bad. Nothing is played really great, and it gets annoying after a while. Avante-garde metal is actually a genre that has a lot of good stuff in it, but it has a fair share of music like this album.

A lot of the music on this album is basically just really horrible ska/funk/metal hybrid. "Love is a Fist" and "Dead Goon" are probably two of the worst songs I've ever heard. It's just really gay sounding ska. Another problem with the songs on here is that almost all of them have some stupid samples from a TV show (or something like that) at the end. The song "Egg" is 11 minutes long, but only about 6 minutes of it is music. The last 5 minutes is just a bunch of weird noise samples and silence.

There is some good stuff to be found on here though, such as the bassline for the song "Squeeze Me Macaroni" and the horn sections in the song "The Girls of Porn". There's only one song on here that manages not to suck at all, which would be the great metal song "My Ass is on Fire". It has some great heavy sounding guitar and some excellent vocals. That's another thing on this album that's really not that good. Mike Patton switches the vocals up a lot, (going from clean singing to singing with some weird-ass voice) and it gets annoying pretty quickly. That's pretty much what this whole album is. Annoying.

Yep, overall this album is a mess of bad music and stupid samples. The highlites on this would have to be "Squeeze Me Macaroni", "Carousel", "My Ass is on Fire" and "The Girls of Porn". If you want some decent Bungle, check out California.

Fairly Insane. But good? That's a different story. - 55%

caspian, July 18th, 2006

Lots has been said about this band. It's mentioned as an influence from everyone from Korn to Dillinger Escape Plan to Hoobastank (?!), there's a ton of glowing reviews all other the web, basically, it's praised to the skies everywhere for being so unique and great. While I am not denying it's uniqueness (nothing else sounds like this At all), it's not all that cohesive and for the most part, a disjointed collection of jazz/metal riffs mixed up with Mike Patton's vocals, which consist mostly of strange noises.

There's a fair bit of variety in these songs, but hearing one basically means you've heard them all. Quote Unquote moves wildly between metal riffing and some carnival-jazz type thing. Squeeze Me Macaroni is full of some strange funk stuff, some super fast vocals, while My Ass is on Fire is the heaviest (and best) song on the album, full of heavy riffs, a lot in odd timing. It's also the most coherent song on the album, because it's happy to stay heavy, and there aren't 5 changes of mood throughout.. Mr Bungle are indeed a surprising and unpredictable band, but the problem is, they're nothing but unpredictable. Why not have a few straight up songs? It would make the rest sound weirder.

One thing that's undeniable though, is that there are some great musicians here. THe guitars play some dissonant and very weird chords, the drums switch between styles seemlessly, and the bass is very loud in the mix and fairly funky. Patton is a great vocalist, but again, like the rest of the band, he's too weird in this album. His lyrics are fairly smart, but his all over the place vocals get annoying very, very fast.

All in all, this is a very, very weird album, a furious mix of different styles forced together. But there's a lack of coherence, and most of the time songwriting gets sacrificed for general weirdness. Who knows, maybe their later stuff fits together a bit better, but for this album, it sounds like a band being weird just for the sake of being weird.

Diversity personified - 95%

Kanwvlf, July 26th, 2004

Wow, where to start with this album. This really is some diverse music, never really sticking to one genre, even in the same song. Also combining this diversity with hilarity in the lyrics, and a good slab of general seriousness, too.

All the instruments played on here are amazing. The guitars are incredibly focused, unlike the demos. They now seem like they know what they're doing, playing as just the right times. The bass is absolutely amazing, being played in almost every way possible. The drums don't seem to get much of a mention in the music, but they're there backing everything up in their own special way.

Mike's voice on here has so many different ranges. This is most likely the album that gave him the foothold of being one of the most diverse, and greatest vocalists of all time. Songs like Squeeze Me Macaroni (the sheer speed), and The Girls Of Porn (so many different personas in one song), show off his pure skill and genius.

There are also plenty of soundclips on here, ranging from the original Super Mario Bros. to all of the band sneaking a ride on a train, and lots of stuff inbetween. The best soundclips are, of course, on the best song, The Girls Of Porn. Starting with a hilarious introduction, and then bursting into Mr. Bungle's best song. With constant soundclips throughout the song, usually involving something to do with porn, of course. Also, I believe on this song, Mike shows off some of his best personas, especially in the breakdown section, where he uses so many different voices in a short space of time. It's particularly amazing that it works.

Also, almost every song on here is really catchy, especially Squeeze Me Macaroni (which is an absolute blast), and Carousel. The guitars really add the catchy effect to the songs, getting the riffs and melodies stuck in your head.

This really is a must-own album, and if you haven't got it, you should go out right now and buy it.

Great Album - 90%

Madman, August 14th, 2003

Mr. Bungle was Mike Patton's first showcase for utter weirdness. Faith No More helped him become a big name so that he could release weird stuff like Mr. Bungle, Fantomas, Tomahawk, and his solo albums. If anyone has listened to Faith No More and is now looking to check out other Patton projects I would say the first thing you need to do is completely forget any preconceptions you have about music.

Mr. Bungle is all over the place when it comes to styles. In one song they can jump from being in a kind of weird rock groove into an atmospheric piece with crooning vocals and then into some funk piece. The band goes all over the place and doesn't worry about what they SHOULD do but just do whatever they want throwing standard convention away to create some seriously fucked up music.

Songs like "Quote Unquote", "Slowly Growing Deaf", "Squeeze Me Macaroni", "My Ass is on Fire", and "The Girls of Porn" best showcase the band's always spastic sound. "Slowly Growing Deaf" and "My Ass is on Fire" are probably the most "metal" songs here. The song "Squeeze Me Macaroni" is hilarious the first time you hear it and read the lyrics at the same time. All the lyrics are sexual innuendos using food and Mike Patton says the lyrics so fast during the verse that it's almost impossible to follow long. The whole song fits into this kind of funk/jazz package, being one of the more straight forward songs the band has on this album along with "The Girls of Porn". The song "The Girls of Porn" is almost a jazzy crooning song but lyrically it's about pornography. The rest of the album is stuck in this weirdness with everchanging songs and weird lyrics.

Despite the fact the album is utterly weird it's actually amazingly memorable. Mike Patton is a great vocalist and musically you won't forget any of the pieces on the album. This is the main strength of this band, as weird as they get the songs are always memorable. Which is weird in itself, you woudn't expect music so odd to be catchy, but it is! Definitely a must buy if you want to hear a band that did something really different and was actually good at it.

Now THIS is more like it! - 88%

OSheaman, July 14th, 2003

Warning: This group makes Really Weird Shit. If you aren't into Really Weird Shit, stay away. On the other hand, if you're not sure about Really Weird Shit, try this album, because you might just find yourself becoming a fan of Really Weird Shit.

Mr. Bungle has finaly gotten their act together for the first of three excellent full-length albums. In the self-titled first of these, there are several noticeable improvements since the demos. Obviously, the production is better, as they are now a signed band. More importantly, Mike Patton's vocals are better. Instead of relying on rather unrefined harsh vocals to express himself, Patton cleans up his vocals and displays his incredibly wide range of vocal abilities by singing in several different distinct personas in this album at different ranges and with different degrees of harshness. This incredible range of abilities cements Patton's place as one of the most important and talented vocalists of metal, and it's about damn time, too.

The guitars have gotten a lot better, too. Now, instead of the unfocused wankery of the demos, the guitars have a few solid riffs under their belts and are ready to kick ass. They either play solid, clean and straightforward riffs, or they play riffs that don't follow a set progression but at least sound like they're going somewhere. They also have a better handle on their volume, playing loud when they should be loud and soft when they should be soft.

Patton's vocals are very well-showcased in Travolta, and Dead Goon is a longer song that plays out like a lost Phish track, but still has plenty of style lodged in the mellow-sounding chords. The best song on here, however, is The Girls of Porn, which, in addition to having a funny-as-shit opening and excellent lyrics, features solid riffage and some serious vocal acrobatics, all combined to make what is probably Mr. Bungle's (the band's and the album's) greatest song.

As I said before, this is Avant-Garde Metal, which, when very loosely translated from French, means Really Weird Shit. There is a wide variety of songs on here, so not liking one song does not necessarily mean you won't like the whole album. It may be a bit of an acquired taste, but I have this album and I love it. It's worth the money, if only for The Girls of Porn alone.