NEW MUSIC FRIDAY: MR. BUNGLE, THE OCEAN, MORTA SKULD, SODOM, EMMA RUTH RUNDLE & THOU
Mr. Bungle by Buzz Osborne
(Gonzo brings us another Friday selection of new songs.)
We talk a lot at NCS about how utterly fucking wild this year has been. As September winds down and we all welcome the fall (that’s autumn, not the imminent collapse of society), it seems like the metal community is pulling out all the stops to close out the year – familiar faces releasing some of their strongest work in years, newcomers putting out amazing debuts, and unexpected surprises materializing out of seemingly nowhere.
This week is no exception to any of that. It’s a glorious mix of old, new, and “holy shit these guys still make albums?”
Mr. Bungle: “Eracist”
If you had “new Mr. Bungle album” on your 2020 bat-shit bingo card, you were thinking more outside the box than most of us. (More than I was, anyway.)
This single immediately makes one thing clear: Mike Patton & co. aren’t opting for the avant-garde lounge-singer-on-acid approach that made 1999’s California what it was. On “Eracist,” the band sounds meatier and angrier, opting for more thrash than flash this time out. Patton channels theatrics from Faith No More’s catalog, suggesting that Bungle’s forthcoming album The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny Demo is gonna be a doozy. Look for it Oct. 30.
The Ocean: “Jurassic | Cretaceous”
Equal parts infectious and technical, this track from The Ocean’s newest album Phanerozoic II: Mesozoic | Cenozoic encapsulates quite a journey through its 13-minute length. As with all songs that wade into the 10-minute range or beyond, flow is important. You could easily wear out or bore the listener halfway through, but that’s not the case here.
Angular riffs crash into jazzy ambient passages with ease. The vocals know exactly when to add a little ferocity to the mix, and progressive undertones prevail with such creativity that I’m tempted to label this track as one of the best in The Ocean’s discography.
Morta Skuld: “Dead Weight”
The Milwaukee-based thrash lords only have two albums released over the past decade, but they sound as fresh and revitalized as ever on their new album Suffer for Nothing.
Furious blast beats propel tremolo riffs and insane time changes on “Dead Weight.” The production is sharp, but not too sharp – it still sounds like the band records music in a dingy garage, but slightly less dingy. Maybe it’s that, or just further confirmation that Dave Gregor’s anguished howl can peel paint off the walls.
Sodom: “Sodom & Gomorrah”
If there’s a band you can always count on to absolutely never compromise, it’s German thrash mainstays Sodom. You know what to expect here – powerhouse riffs, Tom Angelripper’s iconic snarl, and galloping tempos primed for the pit.
With Slayer having hung up the horns for good, it seems like the perfect time for Sodom to cross the Atlantic and bring their thrash mastery to the States. Pandemic aside, there are currently no US tour dates scheduled for the band through 2021. And that’s a total shame, because “Sodom & Gomorrah” is a solid precursor for what’s to come with Sodom’s newest, Genesis XIX, due out Nov. 27.
Emma Ruth Rundle & Thou: “The Valley”
Jane-of-all-trades Rundle and Louisiana sludge merchants Thou have collaborated, and the result is something I’d love to hear a hell of a lot more of.
Rundle’s yin to Thou’s yang is as an effective duo of light to dark as I’ve heard all year. The singer/guitarist of such outfits as Red Sparowes brings a softer edge to the sludgy underbelly of Thou, and “The Valley” is the most prescient example of what you’ll find on the rest of May Our Chambers Be Full. I’m not wild about Thou’s latest full-length of covers, so hearing some stuff that brings out their best work is a good change of pace.
Then again, the band averages two albums a year to begin with, so look to May Our Chambers Be Full for their stronger output of 2020.
That ERR&Thou track is incredible. Brings to mind the way Julie Christmas seamlessly fit with Cult of Luna on “Mariner,” bringing out the best of the band while pushing the music in an exciting direction. Also had no idea ERR was involved in Red Sparowes; I could go for some new stuff from them.