This writer confesses to having often had a tepid reaction to Youth Code’s particular brand of punk-infused EBM/industrial, admiring the unbridled energy the band displays in their live shows, but finding the recorded material to be a tad lacking in sophistication; of course, many would argue that such an assessment misses the point, and admittedly, perhaps it does. Nevertheless, with the duo hooking up with trap/metal producer King Yosef on this collaboration album, A Skeleton Key in the Doors of Depression does at least garner a few pleasant surprises and helps to elevate and enhance Youth Code’s own style. The record’s eight tracks are as confrontational and as aggressive as one can expect from such a merger, with the interplay of abrasive male and female vocals keeping things in a constant state of belligerent vivacity; however, the musicians know when to inject a bit of melody, which makes for some excellent and rather anthemic choruses like those heard on “Burner,” “The World Stage,” and “Looking Down.” Coupled with some eerie and gritty synth textures that are at times overdriven to such a degree that they would threaten to decimate your speakers, along with some rather metallic trap beats and steely bass tones, and you’ve got a winning combination. The same can be said of the pianos that adorn “The World Stage,” which is sure to be a live banger, or the screaming tremolo guitars that bring “Finally Docked” to a noisy and marginally abrupt end befitting the record’s overall intensity. As well, “Head Underwater” is notable for its purely mechanical industrial rhythms, the unhinged buzzsaw distortion of the guitar adding one of the album’s more memorable moments reminiscent of Chu Ishikawa’s work in Der Eisenrost or the Tetsuo soundtracks, and if the stuttering electronics, beats, and glitch effects of “Death Safe” don’t strike your fancy, the concluding chant of “I’ve had enough this time, I’ve had enough of drowning” just might, although again, it ends a bit too suddenly. Indeed, A Skeleton Key in the Doors of Depression moves at such a brisk pace, clocking in at under a half hour, that one may find the line between repeated listens and wishing for the songs to linger a bit longer to be razor thin – short, sharp, shock! Nevertheless, the snarling bite of King Yosef’s dark hip-hop and metal flourishes work rather well with Youth Code’s pounding EBM, making for what might be one of the more accomplished entries in the group’s discography.