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SANGUISUGABOGG: Trauma, Troma Entertainment & The Horrors Of Homicidal Ecstasy

Plus a shopping cart of live DVDs. No, really.

Sanguisugabogg 2022
Photo by Adam Elkins

Devin Swank knows the assignment. As frontman to lauded brutal death metal upstarts Sanguisugabogg, he is conductor, jester, guide and executioner all at once. He is Charon to a new nation of metalheads, ushering them down the slippery, sludgy and immeasurably bloody river towards the Hades that is the new wave of modern death metal. No pressure right?

For the uninitiated, the 'Bogg are a kick to the guts with steel-toed combat boots, a bong hit in a windowless room with a midnight movie marathon on a less than hi-fi television set.

They are violent, vicious, at times extremely tongue-in-cheek while also deadly serious about their craft. And for Swank, all of that slowly built cred comes with a tip of the hat to the death metal legends who built the pillars the likes of 200 Stab Wounds, Frozen Soul, Vomit Forth, and Undeath now proudly occupy.

"I think what's cool about this new wave (of death metal) as opposed to kind of the first wave of American death metal, like '88, '89 when you had bands like Death and Cannibal Corpse, you had the Suffocation demo in 1990, 1991, Morbid Angel and so forth, is that they created this style of music out of really nothing," Swank shared in a sit-down with Metal Injection.

"Back then the heaviest they were listening to was Kreator, Slayer, and Celtic Frost. Cannibal Corpse says that they were listening to a lot of Savatage, basically TSO back in the day. Like, 'Wow, you came up with that out of that? That's fucking unreal and insane in it's own.' And the cool thing about this new modern wave is we've had over 30 years of death metal to not really take influence from, but be inspired by."

Swank is a proud student of the game, describing at length his excessive and awesome collection of live DVDs and albums that proudly stock a shopping cart in his home. He's been all-in, to say the least, for years now.

"I remember being young and in my room I have a giant record collection and a giant live DVD collection. I literally have a shopping cart in one of my rooms with live DVDs. And I remember watching, like Napalm Death's Live Corruption from the nineties and seeing people go off. And I was just like, 'Man, I want to be in a band that does that.' I've been playing death metal for, shit, like 11 years, 12 years.

"I started my first death metal band in high school and I never really seen crowds go off. And then for some reason we hit gas and struck a match with Sanguisugabogg right off the rip, really."

Alongside fellow 'Bogg members Cody Davidson, Ced Davis, and Drew Arnold, Sanguisugabogg have emerged from the murky bile to lay claim to the title of one of modern time's premiere practitioners of gore-drenched death metal.

Heavily influenced by horror and a not so shy dosage of humor (Swank himself is a comedian in a second life), Sanguisugabogg's cult following has steadily grown, with the band earning prominent touring slots alongside genre legends Cannibal Corpse, Terror, and Nile. 

It was their brief run alongside the Corpsegrinder-led gods of gore in 2022 that truly leveled up 'Bogg in the eyes of many.

"That tour was a come to Jesus moment for us, 'cause I never thought that we'd be supporting a band like that in the beginning," Swank recalls sincerely. "To have that kind of opportunity was definitely a huge deal for us because they're easily the number one death metal band in the entire world.

"They're heavyweight champs, and to have a crowd that that could be the only death metal band that they listen to, and they hear us going 280 beats per minute, inaudible vocals, muddy guitars, and they're like this is the first style of that kind of music that they've probably ever been exposed to and to still win them over is a real big fucking deal for us. That was a short ass tour. It was short lived, but damn, every night of that was a dream that didn't feel real."

A self-described horror-film fanatic who was bitten by the bug as a youngster when his parents dragged him to see The Ring in theaters at only ten years of age (he loved it, by the way, and aimed to spread the trauma on his friends and classmates), a chance collaboration with underdog purveyors of cheese filled gonzo-horror Troma Entertainment on a pair of bombastic music videos further established the guys as a band who, not only rip the guts out of you with their crushing music, but also elevate every part of their game when it comes to establishing the 'Bogg brand.

"Working with Troma was really cool, you know? That was like a dream of ours, us all being like huge Tromaheads before we even became a band. We would have continued working with Troma if they weren't so busy and wrapped up in working on The Toxic Avenger reboot with Peter Dinklage," Swank admits before further diving in to the connective tissue of heavy metal and horror.

"I think there's definitely a thin line somewhere between extreme music and horror and I think really what it is, is just like you said, it's a middle finger to the mainstream. You know, it's something that you're not necessarily on paper supposed to like it, but visually and sonically, it's very impacting and speaks to people and grabs people.

"I didn't get into horror until maybe early in my teens, and it's because I was so terrified of it as a child. Same with my kind of music. You know, my dad listened to a lot of Morbid Angel and Sepultura when I was growing up, and I couldn't make a lick of it. Couldn't really understand it until I got maybe a little bit older. I was just like, You know what? I fuck with this and it speaks to me."

And while the powers that be behind the 'Bogg beast know that having a tongue-in-cheek approach to life can be satisfyingly useful, the bands' latest collection Homicidal Ecstasy does venture into darker waters, in both tone and subject matter that mirror the realities of all hands involved.

"That's kind of the theme about the whole album is it's all pertaining to death and ecstasy is like euphoria. It could also be pertaining to a substance or like a drug. You know, it's something that draws you in," Swank explains, candidly.

"There's a song we have called 'A Lesson in Savagery,' and it's about a guy who can't for the life of him just stop killing. Like, it's almost like an addiction. I drew a couple, I guess, like Easter eggs from like the Bundy confessions, how it's like an addiction and it's just something that you need and you need something that's harder and harder and harder. So it's like in the mind of a serial killer and how he can't just shake the feening of killing."

The loss of Swank's grandmother, he shares, directly impacted the writing of the album, an act of catharsis that the frontman hopes can also resonate with listeners of the band who in turn need an outlet for pain.

"With drugs there's also like a relapse or there's that big shadow that you have over yourself and over around the people that love and care about you so much. And you're pissed, you're depressed. and I kind of took 'Mortal Admonishment' in that kind of route.

"You're losing something. So for me I looked at it as kind of a foreshadowing of when I lost my grandmother who raised me. I thought in my head I was just like, 'am I going to let this wear me down or am I going to choose to live for her?' Thankfully, I chose the latter. But in that song, it was like, what if I didn't?

"I wrote that song just to kind of let people know that we have people reach out to us all the time, like hey, your album helped me get through this, helped me get through that. Just kind of want to reach out and touch people and tell them like, hey, we'll always be there for you. You know, if you need a band to kind of get you through something, let us be that band. We'll gladly do it for you."

Sanguisugabogg's Homicidal Ecstasy is available worldwide February 3 through Century Media Records. The band kick off a run of tour dates alongside Dying Fetus, Suicide Silence, Born of Osiris, Aborted, Slay Squad and Crown Magentar for the Chaos & Carnage Tour this April! The band will also play a handful of shows in February with Internal Bleeding, Year of the Knife, and Vomit Forth.

w/ Internal Bleeding, Year of the Knife & Vomit Forth

2/23 Grand Rapids, MI – Pyramid Scheme
2/24 Indianapolis, IN – Black Circle
2/25 Toledo, OH – Ottawa Tavern
2/26 Columbus, OH – Ace of Cups

w/ Dying Fetus, Suicide Silence, Born of Osiris, Aborted, Slay Squad & Crown Magentar

4/7 Fort Worth, TX – Ridglea Theater
4/8 San Antonio, TX – Vibes Event Center
4/9 Houston, TX – Warehouse Live
4/11 Atlanta, GA – The Masquerade
4/13 New York, NY – Palladium Times Square
4/14 Sayreville, NJ – Starland Ballroom
4/15 Hartford, CT – Webster Theater
4/16 Reading, PA – Reverb
4/18 Pittsburgh, PA – Mountain View Amp.
4/19 Cleveland, OH – Agora Theatre
4/20 Covington, KY – Madison Theater
4/21 Pontiac, MI – The Crofoot
4/22 Joliet, IL – The Forge
4/24 Denver, CO – Ogden Theatre
4/26 Las Vegas, NV – House of Blues
4/27 Mesa, AZ – The Nile
4/28 Los Angeles, CA – The Belasco
4/29 Berkeley, CA – UC Theatre
4/30 Anaheim, CA – House of Blues

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