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Mockcharge - Into The Valley Below

Into The Valley Below
by Matt Bozenda at 01 March 2022, 10:00 PM

Pardon our lateness in getting to this particular party, but today’s review is for an album now four months old at the time of this publication. The proliferation of musicians and bands creating original material in the midst of a global pandemic is nothing short of staggering, all things considered, and so we must look to the classic mantra “Better Late Than Never” and just have a go at this thing.

This particular thing just happens to be “Into The Valley Below”, the debut full-length album of New York City undergrounders MOCKCHARGE. After spending a few years trickling out some singles and playing what shows were available to play, they’ve now got a foundation from which to work. How solid that foundation is may be up to the listener to decide.

The band themselves declare that they take a new approach to Heavy Metal by blending various genres. That’s not quite a new idea, per se, but is still a good idea, and what MOCKCHARGE does with it tends to on average fall somewhere between MOTORHEAD and GRUNTRUCK triangulating to TRUCKFIGHTERS and all with a Death metal vocalist, which is certainly an interesting place to land on the Metal dartboard. Bearing that standard are tracks like the opener “Darkside” and “Rotten”, both of which are sludge-heavy while still being fast.

A bit of straying goes on for much of the album, and for the most part it goes into the Punky sort of direction. That comes unconvincingly at first on “Cannonball”, but is given a much better treatment on “The Hexing”. For what it’s worth, the band seems much more comfortable leaning hard into the Metallic Grunge sound, with tracks such as “Destroy”, “Tin Man”, and “Creature Of The Underworld” getting particularly heavy while feeling much more cohesive.

Like a certain other New York band who needed face paint to stand out, MOCKCHARGE seems like they’d be altogether more interesting on the stage. “Into The Valley Below” isn’t a bad album, really, in fact it’s quite good in some parts. However, for a dozen songs totaling about forty minutes, savvy listeners will be able to tell which tracks are used for live sets and which ones are expendable. The last three tracks in particular feel like early material that would be better left behind.

So, what is it then? It seems like maybe they should pick a path and stick with it. The Alt-Metal/Grunge formula really stood out for them here and has a uniqueness to it, but adding onto that just seemed a bit too much. Hopefully MOCKCHARGE can find what they’re about for album two, and maybe some more live shows will be the magic they need to find themselves.

Musicianship: 7
Songwriting: 7
Memorability: 5
Production: 7

3 Star Rating

1. Darkside
2. Destroy
3. Rotten
4. Cannonball
5. Tin Man
6. Intro (Into The Valley Below)
7. Creature Of The Underworld
8. The Hexing
9. Cracker Song
10. Bugged Generation
11. Nosferatu
12. Marauder
Tatiana Turin - bass
Donnie Hogue - drums
Ed Marson - guitar, vocals
Record Label: Independent


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