Where to start with Sanguisugabogg. The Ohio band are rapidly making a name for themselves, playing a form of ridiculously over-the-top death metal that walks a fine line between tongue-in-cheek absurdity and straight-up provocative ugliness. Their debut album Tortured Whole, which drops on March 26th, sees the group taking their sound to whole new realms of filthiness, digging even deeper into the death metal chaos they’d already nailed on their much-hyped 2019 Pornographic Seizures EP.
To those unfamiliar with the band, the almost nonsensical name will be the first inclination that these guys are something different. Unlike most extreme metal monikers, which usually make sense once you’ve deciphered their obligatory cryptic logo, Sanguisugabogg’s actually seems to make even less sense. Drummer Cody Davidson explains; “our guitar player Cameron actually came up with it. ‘Sanguis’ means ‘blood-sucker’ in Latin, then his last name is Boggs, but he thought Sanguisugabogg was funnier, so he cut off the last letter.
The “He thought it was funnier” quote is the key to understanding what Sanguisugabogg are about. There’s a sense of extreme playfulness to everything the band does, whether it’s that outrageous name, their song titles (their newest album contains the tracks ‘Dick Filet’, ‘Menstrual Envy’ and ‘Dead As Shit’) or their commitment to gnarly, cranked-up-to-eleven instrumentation. The vocals are comprised of filthy gutturals, the guitars are loaded with a tone that could strip paint, and Cody’s snare reverberates with an obnoxious metallic ping.
When asked about why more drummers don’t crank their snare Cody laughs; “I think they’re scared. I haven’t actually told anyone this, but that was an accident. I used these really small microphones which made the sustain of the snare, which was already pretty long, even longer. When we first started mixing I thought maybe this is too much, but then I thought about our attitude which is just ‘fuck it’. Is it too punishing? I don’t know, maybe people are just jealous of my long snare.”
“Our guitar player’s non-binary, we all support these causes, and because I feel like there’s not a lot of that around, people are responding well to it.”
The band’s ‘fuck it’ attitude pays off dividends, however it’s one that they also manage to balance quite intelligently. In the current socio-political climate, with all the talk around political correctness and ‘cancelling’, a band like Sanguisugabogg has to walk a delicate line. Their purposefully gory and obnoxious lyrics stay on the right side of provocative outrageousness, never slipping into the murky and often straight-up hateful waters that the grimmest corners of extreme metal can occasionally fall into.
Cody is aware of this; “we’ve had a very small amount of people being upset with the lyrics, but that comes with the territory.” This quick judgement is also misguided. Closer inspection of Sanguisugabogg’s lyrical content reveals that, while visceral and often straight up disgusting, their lyrics are never hateful or discriminatory. In fact, while anything but a political band, Sanguisugabogg’s politics lean towards the progressive. “I feel like there’s a space for this to grow, because there’s actually not a lot of bands like us,” says Cody. “Our guitar player’s non-binary, we all support these causes, and because I feel like there’s not a lot of that around, people are responding well to it.” Sanguisugabogg’s affinity for outrageousness is an oddly forward-thinking kind. They don’t need to be hateful or mean-spirited because in these dark and polarised days it’s more transgressive and controversial to avoid being so.
However, their affinity for crassness was an initial hindrance to signing with the prestigious Century Media Records. “We sent our first EP to Century Media before we put it out on Maggot Stomp and they didn’t like it. Mike Gitter (Vice President of A&R for Century Media) actually sent us an email saying ‘this is just extended breakdowns and nothing special’. We thought that was hilarious so we put it on a sticker that was sold through Maggot Stomp.”
Fortunately, time was kind to Gitter and Sanguisugabogg’s relationship: “We have the same manager as Frozen Soul, and I think because they (Century Media) worked it out with Frozen Soul, Gitter was like ‘OK I get it now’, so they ended up signing us as well.” Asked about their current relationship to the label, Cody laughs; “it’s a case of us doing something and then seeing what they say. Like when we did the video for 'Menstrual Envy' and came back to them with footage of us with mutilated dicks, they were like ‘fuck yeah, alright’.”
"There’s this scene where the rest of the band are there with their alien dicks, and I’m not in it because I was tripping so hard they told me to go outside."
To clarify, Cody is referring to Sanguisugabogg’s ‘Menstrual Envy’ video, a jaw-dropping four minutes that needs to be seen to be believed. The narrative involves the band going to sign their deal with Century Media but being given handfuls of mushrooms and having their penises turned into flesh-eating alien monsters (yes, really). It’s both hilarious and truly disgusting. Produced by the legendary Troma Entertainment (creators of classic B movies including The Toxic Avenger and Class Of Nuke ‘Em High), the link-up seems to make for a perfect aesthetic pairing. Cody agrees; “I feel like Troma’s stuff is kind of slapstick, which ties in with our sense of humour.”
Brilliantly, it turns out that Cody was actually on hallucinogens during the filming of the video. “Dude, that was the first time I ever took two hits of acid,” he explains. “There’s this scene where the rest of the band are there with their alien dicks, and I’m not in it because I was tripping so hard they told me to go outside. I was just laughing hysterically and drawing funny shit on this chalkboard they had in there.”
Never change Sanguisugabogg, never change.