By Dr. Abner Mality

In the eternal battle for most memorable name, Chicago's Cokegoat rank pretty high. How about the music, though? We have a winner here! This "Vessel" is full to the brim with pounding, varied and interesting sludge metal that is way in front of most other bands in this overclogged genre.

True heaviness and good songwriting are the keys to Cokegoat's success. The two are not mutually exclusive, believe it or not. The band will likely be labelled as sludge but there's more going on than that. There's the burning anger of hardcore punk, the brutal riffing of death metal, the spaced ambience of modern day psychedelia and even some smatterings of electronic experimentation. The framework is burly and crushing, with enough sludge tropes to satisfy the faithful, but enough variety to make Cokegoat an interesting listen.

"Fear The Followers" kicks things off with an angry blast and this is where the punk/thrash energy of Cokegoat is manifest. It's a wakeup call, but following cut "Buried In the City" is the full fledged beatdown. These guys hit HARD! But you can detect some traces of synth and keyboard action behind the rifferama that flavors things up. "Dogs" is a grimy, mean kind of mid-paced tune, with some very unusual vocals...a merger of low Pete Steele type crooning and clean female vocals at the same time. That makes for a VERY interesting sound and another layer of coolness.

There's no real letdown in what follows, either. There are times when Cokegoat has a straight up kind of sludge metal crush, other times when things get semi-proggy. Dissonant electronics show up between tunes and there are a couple stretches of laidback, gloomy meandering to show a different side. But always things come  back to big fat rumbling RIFFS, most notably on last tune "Glorious Dead".

Only complaint I have is there is quite a bit of that bellowing, roaring vocal that so many sludge bands use today. I like that odd low/high thing they have going on better. But really, this album is seriously intense...and intensely serious! Maybe a new force in heavy music has arisen?

Economy of Motion Records