SANGUISUGABOGG: Tortured Whole
Release year: 2021
Label: Century Media
From the starting sounds of Sanguisugabogg’s debut album, Tortured Whole, it’s obvious what’s on offer. Commencing with an almost pig-like guttural growl, it’s clear that this is death metal of the brutal kind. And verily, the US crew with the cumbersome name do not mislead.
So: death metal is the name of the game, and the foursome honor the traditions of the genre on Tortured Whole.
There’s a definite hand-crafted DIY aesthetic to the down-tunned, plodding sound. The drums are a hollow, metallic and even tinny thud, and the guitars are a far cry from the razor-sharp, crisp and clear barrage of, for example, labelmates Frozen Soul. Instead, they are a bit murky in their down-tuned sludginess. The bass, when audible beneath all the other murk, is a beautifully buzzing pulp of bottom-scraped muck. And on top of it all, the vocals which range from more traditional USDM growls to semi-pig squeal territory. Ah yes, Sanguisugabogg sound filthy and putrid – the production is just wobbly enough to lend this a feeling of danger.
I really dig the sound of the album. I feel like the ohioan group have crafted a sound that isn’t too often heard on the roster of a major metal label like Century Media these days: dirty, messed up and authentically filthy. The kind of stuff with plenty of raw edges, unpolished surfaces and shit stains in the boxer shorts. However, whilst that is all fine and dandy, the actual song writing does leave something to be desired. There just aren’t any tracks that’ll stick on here.
And that really is something of a problem, as it stands. Beneath the pleasingly mucked-up stylistic approach, the riffs are pretty standard fare USDM and the songs, whilst not cut from the simplest cloth i.e. consisting of several parts ranging from full-on blasting to mid-tempo plodding to even surprisingly grooving stuff, just don’t manage to make a lasting impression. There’s the odd section here and there that might grab you by the ears, but no song in its entirety is worth writing home about.
The lamentable end result is probably a rather unfair summation of Sanguisugabogg: it feels like there’s more style than substance here. The stylistic trappings are all well and fine, but when you scratch beneath the surface, there’s not a lot to find. That is a real shame, because Sanguisugabogg sound like they have potential for so much more.