Over the years, death metal has perhaps become best known for its indecipherable logos and unpronounceable band names. Ohio’s SANGUISUGABOGG took these stereotypes and ran with them, spawning a mass of memes and jokes about their ludicrous name (which the press release here states is “an anagram of ‘Bloody toilet’”, which it just plainly is not) and their smear of a logo. But it worked. Tours with the likes of CANNIBAL CORPSE and TERROR, and signing to Century Media were testament to the heads they turned with their 2019 EP Pornographic Seizures and their debut full-length Tortured Whole. Now they’re back with sophomore record Homicidal Ecstasy, and while the crazed killer motif still looms large, this is not just the SANGUISUGABOGG of old.
First off, they’ve matured. No longer are they gleeful splatter merchants to make you dance. Nowadays they’re slightly more sullen splatter merchants to make you dance. There are still songs called Testicular Rot and Face Ripped Off, but within the murky depths of Homicidal Ecstasy there lies a deeper, more introspective arm of their music. Inspired by the loss of his grandmother, vocalist Devin Swank reveals that he wrote Mortal Admonishment because “it’s standard in death metal to talk about death but who has talked about the grieving process?”. It’s a fair question answered well enough by way of blunt-force chugs and less haste, before one final breakdown veers toward the sludgier realms of extreme metal.
Secondly, they’ve roped in the big guns. Homicidal Ecstasy has been blessed with the masterful mixing of Kurt Ballou (he of CONVERGE fame) and the result is one that keeps everything raw, but in such a precise manner that you feel every chugging guitar like a sledgehammer to the face and every chiming cymbal like a railroad spike piercing each of your major organs. In particular, the drums of Cody Davidson are utterly phenomenal in their barbaric clarity; everything from the cutting thud of the snare to the terrifying crash of the cymbals lands square and heavy, giving tracks like Black Market Vasectomy their most ominous characteristic.
And thirdly, they have brought an obscene amount of bounce and groove into some of these tracks and SANGUISUGABOGG are once again setting the bar as a brutal, horror-obsessed band you can have a good time to. It’s a movement that has gained traction in recent years through the likes of PARTY CANNON claiming a fair share of the plaudits, but SANGUISUGABOGG have firmly installed themselves in this bizarre niche with tracks like Necrosexual Deviant which ultimately turns into a riff-laced party anthem that really gets you moving.
But the issue that plagues Homicidal Ecstasy is that it is more bloated than the corpse that SANGUISUGABOGG dumped in the canal with their last album. While 12 tracks and 45 minutes may not seem like an outlier on paper, there’s something about the relentlessness of it all that can start to feel two-dimensional, which in turn makes it feel twice its true length. They’ve tried to waylay the issue by frontloading the record with one- and two-minute blasts of gross brutality, before the back half becomes a mass of four- and five-minute relative epics. Oddly enough though, it’s that first half that weighs Homicidal Ecstasy down like the corpse they’re trying to get rid of. Perhaps some dismemberment would make them less encumbered.
While there are certainly some high points – mostly toward the end of the album – Homicidal Ecstasy can feel like a chore to get through. SANGUISUGABOGG though have shown that they’re not just settling for what has come before. They’re showing a willingness to continue to build on how they merge blastbeats, breakdowns and brutal horror flicks. But here, the pieces don’t always fit the way they want them to. Not yet.
Homicidal Ecstasy is set for release on February 3rd via Century Media Records.
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