Bungler - The Nature of Being New
Stream or buy on Bungler's Bandcamp
Bungler is a three-piece hardcore act hailing from Buffalo, New York who has gotten some attention for their energetic live performances and insane use of pedals. Prior to the release of this debut LP, the band had three EPs, including a split with Icelandic hardcore act Great Grief, from whom I discovered these guys. While they certainly pack a punch on these EPs, I feel that you wouldn’t get the full experience of what these guys offer unless you’ve seen them live. After seeing them at Funkadelic Studios on the tour they did for their split with Great Grief, I became completely hooked and now listen to all their stuff on a fairly regular basis. My only problem with their previous material is I felt they wore their influences a bit too much on their sleeves, which is perfectly fine considering they are still a relatively new band. With the announcement of this LP, I was seriously psyched. Any band that is really connected with the New York/Philadelphia/New Jersey tri-state metalcore scenes that releases a debut LP deserves some sort of celebration. So what do I think of it? Well…holy shit.
As soon as “Finders Keepers, Takers Leavers” started, I got so pumped I threw a pistachio on the floor to crack it open. I’m not even kidding when I say that, it’s such a fucking intense intro in the Bungler style that was shown on their previous EPs, but done with a lot more focus and creativity. This leads into the two singles, “Ex Wheels” and “Double Glare.” Both are intense and chaotic while maintaining catchy, party-esque vibe, as one familiar with Bungler should expect. Then comes along “Rotting Fruit (Is for the Birds),” which truly comes out of left field for me. This track truly shows what guitarist Ryan Ankenbauer is capable of. The group may lack a bass player, but through the magic of his pedals, he creates both a bass track and an industrial sound to go with his guitar, and it sounds absolutely amazing. Drummer Sky Harding follows up with a very industrial-sounding drum pattern. Honestly, they are one of the bands that uses the industrial sound to it’s fullest, making for a truly awesome track.
This leads into “Drowning in Oil” which is super heavy, and sports some really kickass backing vocals that would get anyone pumped the fuck up. “Dead Breath” comes up next, which I really wish was longer, because it’s just so groovy. The clean vocals on this track are nicely placed, and the instrumental is danceable, but the song ends kind of abruptly with a thrashy part. Like I said, I really wish it was a longer track because it is such a nice addition. Next is “Smooth Hysteria,” a slower, harder-hitting track. It gets a bit noisy towards the end, which I always love to hear, and gang vocals are fucking righteous. This leads into the interlude “Marrow,” which is a total electronic orgasm. The amount of influences Bungler take from different genres on this LP is insane, and all of them sound authentic.
Next up is another one of my favorite tracks, “In God We Trustfund.” There are parts of this song that are super noisy and groovy, and it ends with a super sick breakdown. It also goes perfectly into “Closet Confident,” which is an interestingly structured track. It stops every so often to give the listener a breather, and then rushes back in even angrier than before. Next comes “Opia,” which is Bungler’s longest track to date. This is another perfectly structured song. We have a slow beginning that includes an increasingly noisier sample that leads into some trademarked Bungler hardcore, then goes into a sludgy, rumbling bass section with vocals screamed from afar, and ends with a breakdown that I think anyone can prematurely call the sickest of 2017. In brief, everything going on in “Opia” alone is why I love hardcore so damn much. This goes into the final song of the LP, “Feed Him Gravel,” which is truly the most fitting way to close out this powerful piece of hardcore music.
Through writing what I thought of every track, one thing I didn’t really mention were Greg Kolb’s vocals. They’re fascinating. You can tell he poured his soul into the recording--whether he’s going super hard on tracks such as “Closet Confident” or exploring his range on “Dead Breath,” he just always nails it. He is always on pace with the rest of the band and giving it 100%. Anyone who screams lyrics like “Not even God can bring this motherfucker down!” with that much power is a fucking solid vocalist.
What Bungler does on The Nature of Being New is in league with many of the current greats in the genre. The only issues I really had are with some underdeveloped ideas, such as on the groovy “Dead Breath.” I would also love to see some more of the electronic influence on “Marrow” applied to more than an interlude. For the time being, do not sleep on this.
Bungler, you are truly heroes of the New York State metalcore scene, and I hope you don’t slow down one bit.