Walking a fine line between gross out transgression and tongue-in-cheek hilarity, Ohio’s Sanguisugabogg are a truly entertaining collision of gory, deliciously-OTT death metal and lowbrow toilet humour. Featuring tracks titled ‘Dick Filet’, ‘Menstrual Envy’ and ‘Felching Filth’, Tortured Whole, the band’s debut full-length and first release on Century Media Records is a filthy, neanderthal farce, a riotous journey down the death metal plughole that gives a whole new meaning to the phrase “shit-eating grin”.
While anything but sonically progressive (Sanguisugabogg have used the term ‘caveman’ to describe their sound), Tortured Whole’s traditionalist death metal manages to remain consistent in its brutally effective, pummelling stomp. Pinched harmonics, ostentatious amounts of double kick and omnipresent guttural vocals are all put to effectively ridiculous use. ‘Dick Filet’ showcases some of the band’s best riffs, along with delightfully tasteless drums that throw in fills and blasts with wanton abandon. The short and sweet ‘Posthumous Compersion’ makes for a nice variation from the other similarly-paced tracks, which generally play out in a knuckle-dragging air of paranoid menace. For a bunch of stoned jokers, when they let rip, such as on the second half of ‘Gored In The Chest’ or the ending to ‘Felching Filth’, Sanguisugabogg manage to, almost in spite of themselves, actually channel something quite imposing and sinister.
However, what gives Tortured Whole heart is its sense of playful joy. Where so many of the other old school death metal revival acts chose to ape the more serious and po-faced acts of the genre’s history, Sanguisugabogg’s influences (Mortician, General Surgery) tapped into the inherent humour present in this most outlandish of music genres. Sanguisugabogg take this mentality and run with it, throwing in a very contemporary (the band used to run a meme page) spin on this sense of morbid, gory humour. So much so, that you do sometimes wonder if they’re actually just trolling. The pure ugliness of the guitar tone, the metallic ping of the snare and the scatological humour suggests a band that are taking things so over the top that maybe they’re trying to just antagonise people. Perhaps they are, to a point, but generally, Sanguisugabogg seem most interested in joking about themselves. There’s a knowing sense of irony present in the OTT production and terrible synth interludes ‘Pornographic’ and ‘Interlube’ that makes Tortured Whole a consistently humorous, if slightly shallow ride.
It goes without saying that this album is far from a masterpiece. Its raw production, infantile humour and arch piss-taking means it’s all but guaranteed to attract Sanguisugabogg as many haters as it will fans. However for those that are willing to tune in to the band’s sense of humour, there are certain corporeal pleasures to be discovered, like taking some cheap psychedelic that awakens the caveman part of your brain, causing you to start joyfully throwing your own shit at the walls.
Tortured Whole is released March 26th via Century Media Records.