Chicago-based metalheads Cokegoat have got the whole “frantic” thing down pat, but perhaps more importantly, they have a good handle on the whole “playing riffs slowly” thing, too. I feel like a cynical dick sometimes but grindy blastbeats and incoherent shrieks will, for me, never top the magic of an 80-bpm Sabbath-esque riff, so I’m biased towards this band from the start.

Cokegoat touch on a few different styles, but typically keep things in the headbanging range and, while “Buried in the City” mostly stays its course, “Dogs” and “Fear the Followers” are both fairly complex compositions. The drums and triple guitars fill out the soundscape almost completely but the keyboards and vocals never get lost in the mix, further testament to the band’s capabilities and the talents of Chicago producers and recording engineers. “Fly By Night” ups the tempo a bit, hinting at the prog leanings on which “Fly By Daylight” relies. Also worth noting are Rebekah Brown’s vocals, especially on “Fly By Daylight.” Compared to the roaring fury of Jeff Wojtysiak and Ed Nudd, Brown’s soft alto lends a human edge to otherwise apocalyptic moments. Vessel doesn’t really differentiate itself from other riff-metal records but Cokegoat’s capabilities as musicians and songwriters keep the album from feeling repetitive or boring.

By John Julius

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