Promising from the start, delivered as a whole
Ohio’s Sanguisugabogg has been quickly turning heads since their relatively recent inception, releasing a short yet engaging EP, Pornographic Seizures (2019), of which topped many hip, underground death metal heads album-of-the-year charts. After quickly flirting with releasing four singles, all embraced with some dope artwork and equally creative music videos to go with them, Sanguisugabogg finally make their debut on the 11-song debut Tortured Whole.
The first single, “Menstrual Envy,” suffices as a particularly slamming mission statement, even featuring Roger Beaujard from the one and only Mortician on vocals towards the end. The seemingly limitless abundance of relentlessly knuckle-dragging guitar riffs and clever drum parts are only the beginning. Maybe now is a good time to bust out the camo cargo shorts and Mountains of Death 2010 videos.
“Gored In The Chest” follows a bit more in the OSDM route and has the boys wearing their influences out on their sleeves, totally sounding a bit like Demilich’s Nespithe (1994), until new member Ced Davis’ bass guitar break comes seemingly out of nowhere. The raw, distorted and almost fuzzed-out bass break sets the band on a more deathcore tonality, only being further accentuated by a brief slam section that closes the song out.
The OSDM influence on “Dragged By A Truck” comes back with fewer pinch harmonics and more and more alternating tremolo-picked/chug riffs à la Cannibal Corpse and later era Carcass. The song goes by rather swiftly but does showcase the band’s tightly-knit rhythmic interplay and virtuosity about halfway through, before the first of two interlude synth tracks, aptly titled “Pornographic.”
The second single, “Dead As Shit,” which, of course, features an intensely immature and fun music video, is also one of the more catchy cuts, with a discernible chorus and solid song structure. Following is the title track, which does tone the intensity down by a hair, or at least as much as it can for a death metal song. As the album’s longest track, reaching over five minutes, “Tortured Whole” closes the song out with a choice slam breakdown followed by an unrelenting riff salad (how do these guys remember all these changes, let alone how to spell their name?!).
“Dick Filet” disappointingly doesn’t dive too far into the new sonic territory that songs like the title track or even the earlier “Gored In The Chest” had to offer, but is still not worthy of a skip, especially for hardcore fans of the band and genre.
Cody Davidson’s impressive and notable drumming locks in beautifully with Cameron Boggs’ distinct riffs and solid-state amp tone on “Urinary Ichor,” going as far as to use repeated pinch harmonics in the hook before descending into a chaotic frenzy of dizzying riffs and start-stop drum patterns, something not uncommon for death metal.
The very brief but vicious “Posthumous Compersion” picks the tempo back up again and helps quickly but adequately transition into the final and arguably the best track, “Felching Filth.” Sincerely a conglomeration of all things that Sanguisugabogg has been slowly but surely incorporating throughout the album are at full-mast here, and still, nothing feels rushed. The more patient moments of dynamic refrain help propel the song’s gymnastically aerobic song parts forward, never stepping over any toes. Ending with a fadeout rather than even a big vamp play-out or even a syncopated hit cymbal choke does seem like an odd idea since it somewhat underplays the band’s ability to lock in with each other. Granted, that isn’t a question, yet just an interesting artistic choice, especially for the concluding track on Tortured Whole.
Hopefully, Sanguisugabogg maintains the same potential for popularity as their contemporaries, such as Blood Incantation or even Tomb Mold have, both reaching hundreds of thousands of streams and clicks for death metal that isn’t 20-plus years old at this point. Them, along with the likes of Undeath, 200 Stab Wounds and Fluids, are helping mold (haha) a contemporary style of DM that is just, well, refreshing.