S.I.D. – City of Chemistry EP

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Reviewed: October 2022
Released: 2022, Gruesome Records
Rating: 3/5
Reviewer: The Flâneur

Italian trio S.I.D.’s second offering after their 2019 opus Architects of Armageddon continues the full-length’s conceptual exploration of the agony of the war-industrial society, this time with inspiration taken from Italian author Gianluca Di Feo’s 2009 monograph Veleni Di Stato. Despite its awkward and unoriginal name, City of Chemistry is a pleasant EP – or as pleasant as crushingly abyssic sludge death doom can be. This is actually high praise coming from me as I find this kind of sound so overplayed and boring that I tune out every single band I catch playing it live.

Yet, City of Chemistry is a lovingly disemboweling sledgehammer ready to leave no corpse unsatisfied. The lyrics themselves follow this mortal coil – the story of the album is told from the first person perspective of a person, who begins the EP as a horrified witness, and concludes it examinate. The album starts with the rather unspectacular Mustard Gas, which offers nothing new when it comes to this sort of sound. It really left a bad taste in my ear canals as I was listening to it, thinking “oh, come on, I don’t want to be too negative”.

Thankfully, the second offering, Phosgene, does actually present us with something new and refreshing. The sound is more mechanical – in fact slightly Messhugah-y, and the punches are thrown harder and in a more calculated manner. Truly, a perfect chain reaction. The most impressive alchemical elements, though, are the atmospheric usage of violin and the tense ambient passages towards the end. Honestly, this is what this genre lacks: creativity. And, Phosgene offers us exactly that on a grand platter in the form of a monolithic hors d’oeuvre.

The titular, City of Chemistry, picks up where Mustard Gas left off. It’s punchy alright, but, let’s be honest, the punches are falling way short off their target. Kind of like combat in the first few levels of Morrowind or a regular starship attempting to resist the Borg: futile. Even the pseudo horror news recording inserted awkwardly at the very end isn’t making up for the otherwise pervasive inconsequentiality of the piece. Onward to the next, my chums.

The fourth, The Spill, commences with the continuation of the pseudo news coverage of City of Chemicals. Arguably, however, it really picks up where Phosgene left off. The tense calculated mechanical sound is back and so is the violin, which makes the atmosphere even more stifling. I really can’t get enough of S.I.D.’s usage of the violin. It’s so good, so uncannily suitable, that it makes the two pieces without it completely pale in comparison. It really elevates the dull and overplayed sludge death sound to new infinitesimal dimensions. It slaps you with its anxious vibrations and leaves you aching for more. It’s bit of an S&M kind of experience, really.

City of Chemistry ends as soon as it commences, and yet, it’s the perfect length. I don’t know about anyone else, but personally, I don’t have the attention span – or desire – to withstand endlessly droning on albums in this particular genre – hence, the brevity is actually an asset. An even bigger asset is the violin. If all pieces included it, this would be a 5/5 album. Yet as it is now, it lurks between refreshing and boring, professional and amateur – strange dichotomies in which, I’m sure, no band with actual good ideas wants to exist. S.I.D. possibly wanted to create a contrast, in this manner compounding the oppressive atmospheres of City of Chemistry. The result is the contrary.



1. Mustard Gas
2. Phosgene
3. City of Chemistry
4. The Spill

Band line-up:

Pikkio – Drums
Ikea – Guitars, samples
Fra – Vocals, guitars, lyrics