Show Review: Sanguisugabogg at the Hawthorne Theatre

If you wanted pummeling intensity, the Ohio black metal quartet’s show was the place to be.

Sanguisugabogg (Sanguisugabogg)

Black metal fans don’t often go to black metal shows to appreciate the nuance of a band’s music or lyrics. The goal is simply to get pummeled with volume and intensity. Most artists in this particular genre understand that, leaving the dynamics and nuance for the recording studio and going for a brute force assault onstage.

Sanguisugabogg, a particularly nasty quartet from Ohio, happily accepted the trade-off when they stopped by the Hawthorne Theatre last week, opening for Cattle Decapitation. The depth of the sonic fields in their most recent album, Homicidal Ecstasy, was replaced by bluntness and dry humor. Combined with the whiplash-inducing double kick drum work of drummer Cody Davidson and the persistent calls by vocalist Devin Swank for a circle pit, the 40-minute set could’ve roused the sold-out crowd to topple any nearby monuments without much effort.

Instead of sending a mob into the streets, Sanguisugabogg seemed more interested in a hang. Swank talked up the bands that were to follow and encouraged the audience to meet him by the merch table after the set to take pictures and smoke weed. His complete chill nicely offset his linebacker’s physique and the thunderous growl that came out of his jacked body. His voice was missing a bit of the acidic gargle of his recorded work, but that was easy to look past when faced with his commanding stage presence and each musical sledgehammer swing from his band.

What Sanguisugabogg could’ve used was a more forgiving venue. Excited as they were to play ahead of one of their musical idols (Immolation), their placement on the bill meant squeezing onto a slim portion of the stage in front of the headliner’s mass of amps and drums. They made do but had to rein in their usual explosiveness for the sake of the greater good.

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