If an easy journey with scenic gentleness is the purpose of your musical intent then steering well away from Vessel, the debut album from Chicago sextet Cokegoat is advice to be heeded. The eight track release is a tsunami of imposing yet empowering sounds and invention; a tempest of stoner, sludge, and progressive metal which merges into a dramatically brawling and rigorously rewarding incitement. Riffs spew animosity and rhythms provoke with an even greater antagonism whilst vocals roar with eclectic venom across the consumption. It is a brutal and seductive onslaught, but one with equally ferocious veins of creativity and imagination which ensures every track ignites far more than just ears. The album is demanding from start to finish, often a punishing encounter, but mostly a tremendous debut roaring aloud the might and potential of these new provocateurs.
Consisting of Jeff Wojtysiak (vocals/guitar), Ed Nudd (guitarist/vocals), Rebekah Brown (keys/vocals), Chase Bentley (guitar), Tim Baldwin (bass), and Jordan Schultz (drums), Cokegoat has built a formidable reputation with their live performances alone which has seen the band sharing stages with the likes of Church of Misery, The Skull, Early Graves, Electric Hawk, Order of the Owl, Jucifer, Indian, Mount Salem and many more. Vessel though is set to ignite the widest and probably wildest attention with eagerly accompanying acclaim you can only expect such its intensive proposition. Recorded with Andy Nelson of Weekend Nachos and mastered by Carl Saff (Unsane, Red Fang, Earthless), the impressive album may not end up heading best of lists come December but it is a release which is intensely impacting and unforgettable.
As mentioned earlier the album is primarily bred in a mesh of sludge and stoner metal but the eclectic textures and sound of the release are just as potent and instantly on show as opener Fear the Followers rages against the ears. Launching a sonic rabidity matched by vocal squalls and punching rhythms, the track is a furious brew seeded in punk and hardcore. It takes the senses and expectations immediately by surprise and once wrong footing their assumptions, unfurls infectious grooves and a melodic acidity seducing appetite and imagination. Twisting and swerving with almost vitriolic endeavour, the song evolves into a riveting landscape of warm climes and intimidating shadows as a doom kissed weight lies eagerly upon the forceful roars and senses entwining sonic hues. It is a compelling introduction explored to greater heights by the following pair of songs.
Buried in the City entangles the listener in a web of sonic design and predatory rhythms straight away, the guitars winding tight evocative sirens of sound round thoughts whilst coarse vocal abrasing works on emotions, their graze tempered superbly by the underlying clean vocals which coax just as potently. The ambience of the song is erosive from the start but brews and accelerates its intense malevolence and rapaciousness to trap and enslave before the outstanding destructive crescendo of a finale gets involved.
The following Dogs is a predatory treat, its dark throaty bass opening a wonderful distorted lure which seduces the senses ready for the annihilatory prowl and disorientating psychedelic manipulating brought by guitars and keys respectively. It is an alluring entrance which only increases in contagion as the track settles into a sinew driven stroll with a captivating mix of clean male and female vocals encased in carnivorous riffing and caustic hooks. It is a bewitching suasion, one which never loses its strength of bait even when a fiery energy and urgency washes through the heart of the song, vocals returning to grizzled scowls and riffs to their contentious enticement. A truly mesmeric encounter which is evolving its presence and narrative right to the closing seconds, the track takes top honours on the album though it’s persistently challenged by tracks like the two parts of End of Your Life. Part 1 is a venomous almost bestial challenge but a provocation which makes for riveting submission, its primal riffery and rhythmic angst perfectly aligned to mystical keys and subsequently roving, virtually rampaging melodic invention. Its slow to grip start is a raging infection by its climax, something Part 2, tries to replicate, it also beginning with a fully immersive and restrained opening. To be fair restraint to Cokegoat is still a raw abrasion which strips senses mercilessly and scores emotions permanently. The track does not match its partner in persuasion or the earlier tracks, but easily continues the invigorating ravaging provided by Vessel.
Fly by Night, Pt. 2 is pure aural pestilence, its opening second the cue for a corrosive swamp of guitar and bass to beleaguer the senses whilst rhythms lash the body with cyclonic intensity, a metallic punk voracity again coursing through sound and band. That hunger and animosity is held tight as sonic adventure with progressive insight spills across the distressed canvas of the song. It results in another thoroughly engrossing and intensive examination, one contrasted pleasingly by Fly by Daylight. Whereas the hostile climate of the previous track devoured, the mellower seducing of melodies and warm enterprise here soothes the wounds, though a mix of charming and abrasing vocals continue to stand and at times scream face to face as keys bring a celestial spattering to the strenuous soundscape.
The track swallows the imagination with ease, a success matched by the closing Glorious Dead. The song is spellbinding, a sirenesque envelopment aligning to another barbarous though more respectful intensity which unveils and expands a weave of sonic adventure and melody kissed enterprise. It is a towering end to the album, alone unleashing all the might and riches of the band in songwriting, passion, and experimentation.
Vessel is not without minor issues, primarily the lack of variety to the predominate abrasing vocals, though that is more to do with personal taste, and at times a lack of toxins to make some songs a lingering venom away from the release. They are small nags though and cannot stop album and Cokegoat providing an impressive and exciting debut.
Vessel is now available digitally from http://cokegoat.bandcamp.com/ and on red vinyl from The Path Less Traveled Records
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