At some point, the memes can no longer be dreams… that’s where Sanguisugabogg find themselves as they gear up to drop their sophomore LP. The band’s self-aware tomfoolery gave 2021’s Tortured Whole much of its charm. These guys love playing grimy, groove happy death metal in the same way horror movie fans embrace grindhouse splatter flics. Sanguisugabogg is gross and they love it, with surprisingly catchy songwriting to boot. That said, Homicidal Ecstasy has a thin line to tread—tasked with elevating the memetic violence without forsaking the band’s original appeal. This thing effectively elevates music made by a band whose name roughly translates to "blood sucking toilet," while maintaining the tenets that make their music so much fun.
Gleefully aberrant sonics immediately retake the spotlight with “Black Market Vasectomy,” but it doesn’t take long for Sanguisugabogg to push beyond pure neanderthal metal with a strange break of arpeggiated guitars and syncopated percussion. But it’s not as if the band went Cynic on us, as the primitive nastiness of “Face Ripped Off” comes straight from a gutter filled with toxic waste. At least, that’s what the guitar tone entails. But the band’s tight rhythmic cohesion plays into an underrated appeal for death metal of this sort—danceability. Between the thick-ass chugs and tasty beat choices, perhaps it’s time for mosh pit warriors to normalize shaking their booties at Sanguisugabogg shows.
It’s also easy to see why these guys have such a handle in the hardcore scene, as “Pissed” comes out with a barbaric groove that’d leave No Zodiac green with envy. After a solid transition from hxc two-step to more expressive fretwork, the song really starts cooking with the inexplicable entrance of a disco beat (again… booty shakin’ brutality). Sanguisugabogg can do this without losing their hammering vibe, proving that inventive detours can coexist with a more straightforward beatdown like “Necrosexual Deviant.” But even here, there’s obvious growth to appreciate in terms of songwriting chops. There’s many more tempo shifts and agile fretwork to chew on before the breakdowns knock your teeth out.
Homicidal Ecstasy strikes a healthy balance between rawness and precision, in large part due to the unmistakable production of Kurt Ballou (Converge, High On Fire, etc.). A filth-encrusted bass tone may kick off “Testicular Rot”—not to mention a particularly trashy china cymbal—but every facet of Sanguisugabogg’s horrifying creation remains clearly discernible. This allows drummer Cody Davidson to break out some almost fusion-style fills without the details getting lost in the melee. In the same way, Drew Arnold and Ced Davis can imbue a cut like “Skin Cushion” with more technical flourishes without losing the oozing sludge of their previous less-is-more approach. It’s a good sign when a band is fun to listen to at their most stripped back and their most acrobatic.
Speaking of oozing sludge, the grimacing intro of “A Lesson in Savagery” delivers pure stank through a cranked snare drum that sounds like a dodgeball hitting someone in the face and depth charge chugs. It also shares with the following “Narcissistic Incisions” a noticeably longer runtime. The deeper cuts on Homicidal Ecstasy merit increased length through cathartic dynamic shifts, punctuated by Devin Swank’s more diverse array of guttural vocals. “Brees” and higher pitched wretches are used sparingly to emphasize certain riff changes, but like the instrumentation, he never strays too far from the brutal death meats and potatoes. To that effect, “Narcissistic Incisions” finds Sanguisugabogg treading a thin line between caveman slams and more colorful shades of extremity. The guitarists know when to protract their riffs for catchier motifs, and the drummer knows when to upend the jackhammer rhythms with a half-time shuffle.
“Hungry For Your Insides” and “Mortal Admonishment” display the two sides of Homicidal Ecstasy. The former uses simple, blunt impact to evoke the minute-and-a-half rampage of a rabid, zombified hippo, while the latter clocks in the longest for a more brooding take on the Sanguisugabogg sound. The arrangement really shines as more than an exercise in violence, as dissonant chords and melodic refrains weave into the crowd-pleasing crudeness. The fact these guys can recontextualize a clear-cut tremolo line into jagged double-kick syncopation shows how committed they are to writing great songs, not meat-headed mosh fodder.
Davidson proves himself as one of the most underrated drummers in the underground through cuts like “Proclamation Of The Frail.” His rapid fire rhythm shifts find a compelling balance between the functional and the flashy, planning out his moments of technicality to service the riffs. When the guitars show out more, he’s matches with a faster fill. When the guitars hunker down for a jaw-breaking beatdown, he’s there with the straight ahead 4/4 beats. His oddly accented blast beat at the start of closing track “Feening for Bloodshed” transitions from a punk-ish d-beat and, inevitably, back to those wonderfully booty-shaking grooves. The back beat is always there to keep the detuned molasses pulsating, but all kinds of subdivisions remain present to kick the music around.
Even though Sanguisugabogg offers a lot more than skull-splitting barbarism, it’s reassuring to know that the band can still tip a hat to uncomplicated, meme-tastic death metal as they evolve as a musical unit. Homicidal Ecstasy should stand as an example for aspiring caveman slammers – you can bring the ultra-brutal goofery while writing memorable songs.