New Partner in Crime Natalie Daniels heads up this review addition

Please welcome Natalie into The Doorway to Team she will be doing reviews for the zine from time to time this is here 1st addition..

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APHYXION – Aftermath-CD/Digital (Prime Collective)

This melodic death metal outfit from Denmark has been heralded as “melodic death metal saviors,” so I was both extremely interested and cautious while going into this review as that's a pretty lofty mantle to carry. This is actually my first time with this band with no real expectations, so I was curious as to what I could be in for. Aftermath is their second full-length released on December, 2nd of 2016 on the Prime Collective Label. 

After the first few tracks I can safely say that I understand their rising popularity. Straight out of the gate APHYXION has a great energy and tight sound along with addictive melodies that often seem to be carried more by the electro-esque keyboards rather than the chuggy guitars. There are moments of very memorable riffing with groovy choruses, and while the vocals are powerful (yet border on monotone), the lyrics come off as a bit sophomoric at times, which detracts from the overall feel of the album. Though unmistakably rooted in Swedish melodeath, even reminiscent of Soundtrack To Your Escape-era In Flames, there is also a definite metalcore feel mostly due to the frequent breakdowns. Nearly every track is comprised of a similar formula which can be positive if you really dig the package of effects-laden synths, chuggy guitars, hooky melodies, breakdowns, and unvaried vocals, but I can't help but feel that something is missing. The crisp clean production also has its place, but unfortunately it can also be somewhat sterilizing. 

My favorite track on the album by far is The Nature of Mankind with its infectious beautiful opening, awesome riffage, and great melodies, especially as the track closes. The fusion of all these elements work well together to give the track as well as the entire album a modern feel, which could be double-edged depending if that suits a listener's musical palette. 

As a whole, though not entirely exceptional, Aftermath is a good album and I would recommend it to fans of modern melodeath who are interested in up and coming young blood.

Tiebreaker - Death Tunes -CD/ Digital ( Karisma Records) 

Norwegian rockers Tiebreaker released their sophomore album Death Tunes in October of 2016 on Karisma Records, and it's seriously fantastic. Tiebreaker formed in 2011, and after gaining a reputation in their homeland for their passionate high-octane live performances, toured elsewhere building their following, which included playing eleven shows in nine days at Austin's SXSW in 2013.

Death Tunes has a very genuine 70's rock sound- a bit dirty, kind or garagey, and undeniably bluesy. It's interesting how well Scandinavia tends to do this, though it may not be what it the region is most notorious for. That same blues-inspired melancholy is threaded throughout the entire album, and seeped right under my skin prompting me to listen to several tracks on repeat during my initial listen as I was enjoying them so whole-heartedly. The closing track "Heavy Lifting" is rife with that amplified gritty painfulness, and left me hungering for more. Death Tunes may not be the type of album that is presently my usual musical fare, but I truly feel that anyone wth rock n' roll in their blood could find many reasons to appreciate it.

Tumorboy - Damaged System- CD/ Digital (Witches Brew)

Thrash is apparently alive and well in Beijing, China. Tumorboy is one of a growing list of notable bands springing out of a burgeoning scene, playing local thrash festivals and gaining international attention. Damaged System is their debut full-length, originally released by Mort Productions and reissued by Witches Brew on January 31st of this year.

Damaged System is a ripping thirty two minutes of old-school thrash comprised of all the expected tropes of the genre (songs about beer, nuclear holocaust, breakneck tempos, punchy guitars, and gang vocals) just to name a few. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, as fans of the genre are sure to feel right at home here. The inclusion of Chinese language samples is also an interesting element, which serves to remind the listener that the band isn't in fact from the Bay Area. It's also presented with an ever-present sense of humor, and this never fails to make something like this likable, as it doesn't take itself too seriously. The negative aspect is that it's not exactly innovative, which likely isn't the goal here anyway. What is accomplished is done well and unapologetically. The musicianship is great (I was steadily impressed by the drumming), the production is excellent, and the vocals are good, though slightly grating. I was immediately reminded of Destruction or Nuclear Assault, and this may be very appealing to some. The slightly off-putting vocal delivery is in no way a deal-breaker, however, and the whole is a fun, punky thrash experience that I would recommend to any fan of the genre, especially any who may be interested in international scenes.

Space Witch - Arcanum -CD/ Digital ( Hevisike)

Space Witch hails from the UK, Stoke-on-Trent in Staffordshire, England specifically, and bestow upon us their second full-length Arcanum in all its sludgy psych-doom glory.

 Arcanum is largely instrumental, and is punctuated with shouted vocals full of an angry defiant sinisterness that echo throughout the vast musically-constructed landscapes, as if something large and ominous were being summoned. Space Witch is aptly named, as they are absolute pros at creating a narrative that conjures images of a celestial journey woven with magic- dark magic. The composition of each track is cavernous and expansive, with the use of trippy synth pads that are utilized expertly and perfectly placed. The sparkling synth sounds at times bleed into that slow low fuzz, and it's just delicious. It all blends seamlessly with no element overtaking the other. The marriage of this space rock sound and this pervasive heaviness is pretty magnificent. The gorgeous and foreboding electronic choruses also paint nebulae in which to journey and ultimately get lost in, possibly hinting at the traveler's own unavoidable demise. Arcanum is music you can feel deep in your bones, and I'll definitely be revisiting on a regular basis.