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S.I.D: Thugs & Hooligans

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Words by Greg Walker

Simon Durrant should need no introduction: a legend of the Aussie metal scene in his own right, he of In:Extremis, Superheist, and Devolved renown has finally busted out with his very own solo project S.I.D. A completely D.I.Y. and wholly independent release, Simon has gathered all his decades of experience and even called in a few favours from fellow scene alumni and cast mates to concoct a truly brutal beast that can proudly stand amongst the upper echelons of heavy Aussie music.

Tracked, recorded, mixed, and mastered by Durrant himself, S.I.D’s Thugs & Hooligans runs the gamut of classic Grindcore to Groovegrind, deftly mixing the groundbreaking styles and sounds of the early UK scene in the late 80s, the clattering urgency coupled with mosh pit inducing bounce mixed with driving chugs and at times indecipherable lyrical deliveries that become a natural extension of the percussive pummelling.

Boasting 19 tracks crammed into 48 minutes, there’s a lot to unload here amongst the churning turmoil. From the opening You Don’t Fuckin Know Me to closer Damagedsuperloafduster, Thugs And Hooligans is a lesson in uncompromising Aussie Groovegrind. It’s immediately apparent from the get-go that Durrant does not intend to hold back any intensity on this debut solo effort, expressing delightfully dark, blissfully bleak, overwhelmingly tumultuous torment.

Lead single Beneath The Dirt is a perfect example of what to expect here. Guest John Sankey is prominent on this one, one of the most accomplished and versatile drummers in metal today, laying down a perfectly restrained drive. A grating dirge manhandles this track through the dirty depths of the grimiest abandoned cellars of the mind, the single’s video clip imagery literally is the stuff nightmares are made of: horrific black and white smeared moving sketches of gut-churning horrors.

The assault breaks for a solid minute mid-song for a divergent Paradise Lost sounding section of gothic doom, a highlight backed with thunderous percussion accents. This is a brilliant inclusion that transitions back to the epic heave as though it never happened.

Intro sample to Rat Catcher proclaims “I want my pain to be inflicted on others” and if Thugs & Hooligans is a literal expression of pain then it’s definitely been inflicted upon us. A three-minute ride passing naturally between brutal doom, ruthless grinding blasts, and head banging bounce-begging mosh pit pogos, Rat Catcher is a standout.

Guillotine seems to capture the bass rattle tone from Cold Blood Eraser on Token Remedies Research by Aussie Hatecore heroes Damaged; that’s a massive compliment, not an indictment. Whether this is by design or divine providence matters not, it’s a welcome detail. I’m a details man, and I love little additions like the Entombed-esque slides in Lepers, a mid-album up-tempo bouncer that would no doubt be a mosh pit mover. Skies Rain Death also features a brilliant groove and closes out with another.

I appreciate a good breakneck blast beat as much as anyone, but Martyr Messiah’s mid-tempo chugging riff section is just what makes me raise my glass; that injection of groove even in small doses separates a good grind tune from the fantastic. Even a rousing rendition of The Exploited‘s Fuck The System comes out as complimentary to the rest of S.I.D’s material, a testament to Simon’s attention to the details and to metal history. The early Grindcore groups were heavily affected musically by first and second wave UK Punk bands, an influence that can be felt sprinkled throughout Thugs & Hooligans, especially on the title track Thugs & Hooligans. This track presents like a cover, such is the dedication to the reverence, and is a buoyant break from the oppressive onslaught elsewhere.

Where the injection of early punk fits well in the two mentioned tracks, Raise Your Fist seems to me to break the momentum of the overall approach. As cool as it is musically, and featuring guest rap lines by Durrant’s fellow Radelaide natives SSMP, I don’t understand the inclusion, but that’s the beauty of a solo release isn’t it, it’s entirely what the artist wants to represent. And quite frankly, with his total discography and metal pedigree, Simon Durrant could release a 48 min album of his farts, and I’d be tempted to give it a spin!

Is S.I.D as unrelenting as Blood Duster? As hate-filled as Damaged? Let’s settle with on par, as evidenced by closing medley Damagedsuperloafduster, a seamless mix of classic slices of Aussie death/grind stalwarts Damaged, In:Extremis, Blood Duster, Superheist, and presumably Meat Loaf.

What it has done is made me want a whole cover of Chrome Matrix with tone like this! A nice tip o’ the hat to finish off with. The abrupt cut-off is as jarring as anything else on this record.

Simon’s knob-tweaking must be mentioned. Somehow, he’s captured the classic Grindcore feel with a modern approach, a primitive reminiscence creeping in yet the outcome is a well-balanced production; there’s a lot going on but Simon has created plenty of space for each element to be heard. The drum sound is crisp, especially that snappy snare crack I love. Having acclaimed engineer and producer DW Norton on tap for sound consultation doesn’t hurt either, but I understand that the outcome is all Simon Durrant.

Durrant has accomplished a slab that is worthy of being spoken of amongst Aussie metal’s revered names. Is this effort a purge, an exorcising of demons? It seems like a lot has been lifted off his soul, whilst having some old-fashioned fun in the meantime. At 19 songs, I’d imagine there isn’t a lot of
leftover material, but if there is, I’d be first in line to be sonically waterboarded with more of what we’ve been subjected to on Thugs & Hooligans.

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