Scream Blast Repeat enjoyed Sanguisugabogg’s 2021 debut, Tortured Whole. Our gushing praise sounds sycophantic now: ‘With so much of modern death metal embracing the cold technicality of jazz fusion,’ we said, ‘It’s refreshing to hear a record that strips the genre down to its naked barbarity and reminds us that heavy music is not all about blistering speed.’ But doubts set in last month after hearing the band’s lead single, ‘Faced Ripped Off’. The horrific video leaves nothing to the imagination, yet the guitar work sounds like it took inspiration from Kittie rather than Cryptopsy. Should we be worried about the direction of this band?
Sanguisugabogg make sure you know in the first ten seconds of ‘Black Market Vasectomy’ to expect forty-five minutes of swampy death metal with the strangest of grooves and the ugliest of bass tones. Drum virtuoso, Cody Davidson, tuned his snare lower for this record, but it still sounds punchy with plenty of high EQ. Combine his scintillating stickwork with the most primitive guitar chugging this side of nu metal and you arrive at the puzzle that is ‘Face Ripped Off’. It isn’t as bad on the second listen. In fact, it has a vertiginous sway that few death metal bands would even contemplate. Devin Swank’s monotone growls are one-dimensional at the first attempt; they energise you at the third hearing. Imagine Undeath covering a song from the latest Obituary LP. The noise bleeding through your ears is like a festering swamp dangerous to human encroachment.
Did this band once associate themselves with the brutal death metal scene? You’ll find no traces of that garbage in this fowl music. ‘Pissed’ relies too much on the sludgy low-end riffs and bass fuzz, yet it still works around a subtle groove. ‘Testicular Rot’ thrives off an extended intro of guitar and drum sparring before the instruments settle on a gory compromise that sounds as charming as a slow disembowelment with a rusty knife. The way they transition to a head-crushing succession of faster rhythms towards this end of this song will keep you on edge. Apparently, the guitarist uses different chords in the chaotic intro to ‘Skin Cushion’, but the high-tuned blast beats and bass guitar fuzz smother them at birth.
Let’s be clear: Sanguisugabogg do not regress into nu metal on their sophomore LP. They employ the bouncy syncopation of the early Korn records on ‘A Lesson in Savagery’, but the guttural growls and technical drum work are too extreme for the mainstream. You can mistake the tempo change in the middle of ‘Narcissistic Incisions’ for a breakdown if you want to gasp for air and prepare to release the tension in your lungs. It’s not advisable to take too many deep breaths when listening to music as noxious as this. ‘Mortal Admonishment’ is what a sludge band would sound like if challenged to play death metal.
You’d think Sanguisugabogg would be onto a losing formula as a band that want to turn gore metal on its head with elements of homoeroticism. After all, the ranks of death metal have as many virgins and incels as the djent sub-genre of prog metal. But the main downside to Homicidal Ecstasy is the quartet’s decision to stretch it from nine to twelve tracks. The last three would be ideal material to save for a future EP. Death through exhaustion is the unintended consequence of leaving them on this record.
Perhaps the most impressive achievement of Sanguisugabogg’s second album is its power to persuade you that their music has variation and latent moments of experimentation. It’s true that you can listen to this with surprising admiration even if the last quarter deprives you of motivation.
Release Date: 03/02/2023
Record Label: Century Media
Standout tracks: Black Market Vasectomy, Testicular Rot, Mortal Admonishment
Suggested Further Listening: 200 Stab Wounds – Slave to the Scalpel (2021), Cannibal Corpse – Tomb of the Mutilated (1992), Undeath – It’s Time… To Rise from the Grave (2022)