Sanguisugabogg’s groove-forward take on old-school death metal across debut LP Tortured Whole is a fittingly viscera-splattered pummeling that nods to Dying Fetus, Cannibal Corpse, and Mortician.
While deliriously detuned, deceptively complex crushes like Dick Filet, Dragged by a Truck, and Felching Filth are as graphic as the catalogues of any first-gen icon, Sanguisugabogg have more of an aesthetically upbeat and humorous approach to their goriness.
Take the plastic surgery disasters presented in the recent NSFW music video for Menstrual Envy – produced by legendary b-movie house Troma Entertainment – where each band member’s... well... member mutates into a teeth-bearing, sentient crotch monster. It’s nasty, if oddly cute.
“We’re just really goofy dudes... a walking comedy tour. Doing a dark video doesn’t seem right for us – it’d seem like we were faking it,” says guitarist Cameron Boggs, while admitting Tortured Whole still pushes several horror movie-influenced “kill-scenes” to the extreme. “I love our lyrics; I love how intense they are, but I love that we can be goofy, too.”
A member of the B.C. Rich family, Boggs delivers all of Tortured Whole’s damage with a Stealth modded to a bowel-rupturing drop G tuning. His B.C. Rich arsenal is deep, though, with the guitarist constantly scooping up old Bich’s, NJ ST’s, and Ironbirds on the cheap.
Hours after scoring a jet black ’87 Warlock for $100, Boggs got into Sanguisugabogg’s gleefully gore-rich sound.
What kind of work goes into those vintage B.C. Rich’s after you find them?
“I drop everything with my dude, Grant Johnstone. I would do it myself, but I tune everything to drop G and don’t know how to set up a guitar properly to handle that low of a tuning. I’d rather he give me exactly what I want than spend three frustrating hours fucking it up.“
What drew you to drop G in the first place?
“I wrote everything for our first EP [2019’s Pornographic Seizures] in drop D – that’s what I’d had on my guitars at the time. I wanted to try something different, so another guy who I used to take guitars to put them in A for me. I couldn’t believe how heavy that shit sounded, so I wondered if I could get to drop G on a six-string. It’s so sick, such an evil-sounding tuning. Everything I do on it sounds perfect – for what we do, at least.“
Your tone across Tortured Whole is low and meaty without sounding muddy. There’s a lot of definition to something like the opening, chromatic crush of Gored in the Chest, for instance. What all are you running?
“I’ve got two Ampeg VH-140c heads. They’re from the ‘90s, solid-state; they have two 70-watt power amps in them. I’d been looking forever for a tone – I’ve gone through thousands of dollars of amps and pedals, all this shit – and finally landed on this.
“I have two different gen VH-140cs, and each sounds different. One is low and bassy, and one has more of a shrill, metal sound. Everything that’s missing from one amp is made up for in the other. We run those through Mesa oversize 4x12s. That’s it.“
No stompboxes along with that?
“Just a tuner and a Lone Wolf Endless Blockade noise gate.“
Sanguisugabogg started off in altered form as a solo, bedroom black metal project called Sanguisuga. What brought on the change in sound, and the decision to build out as a proper band?
“I was in a weird, dark place, doing black metal, but was tripping on acid and came up with this riff that ended up on the first EP, a song called Turkish Blood Orgy. I’d never attempted to play death metal, mostly because I didn’t think I was a good enough guitarist, but I kept surprising myself with how much I liked what I was doing. I was begging everyone around me: ‘please play this shit with me.’ Cody [Davidson], our drummer, is one of the best guitarists I know. He’s a huge tone nerd. He recorded us, produced our album.“
Does Cody have a hand in writing as well, then?
“Everything on Tortured Whole and Pornographic Seizures is me, except for the first two riffs on Gored in the Chest, which he wrote.“
Do you hear any remnants of that black metal vibe on Tortured Whole?
“When I was doing black metal, I really wanted to have cool melodies to the tremolo riffs. I feel like a lot of tremolo riffs that I run through now are reminiscent of what I was trying to do, though tuned much lower.“
You also know your way around a pinch squeal.
“When I was a kid, I sat in my room worshipping Dimebag Darrell and Zakk Wylde. I really wanted to do pinch harmonics like Zakk, so I’d be in my room with my guitar for hours, just trying to make the fucking thing squeal. I was in fifth grade. I had my little Marshall practice amp blasting. My parents, they’re troopers for sure. There’s no reason for them not to have come into my room like, ‘Dude, shut the fuck up.’“
There are some old school death-metal reference points to Sanguisugabogg, but unlike that era, there’s not much in terms of leads I don’t think there’s a single solo on Tortured Whole. What can you say about the band’s focus on groove over flash?
“A lot of people will call us a caveman band because we don’t have solos or leads. I don’t think we ever will! That’s not what I do, plus I don’t think I’m that good of a guitarist. I’m always down on my playing, but I’m trying to get better. I’ve never seen myself as a lead shredder, but that’s cool. I don’t pretend to be. Instead of trying to do solos that are out of my league, I’ve just figured out my place as a riffer.“