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Ceremony - Zoo

  by Malcolm Carter

published: 27 / 2 / 2012

Ceremony - Zoo
Label: Matador Records
Format: CD


Energetic and imaginative fourth album from San Francisco-based band Ceremony, which finds them reinventing themselves and leaping forwards and away from their hardcore roots

In recent years one of the most exciting hardcore bands to emerge from the United States has been San Francisco’s Ceremony. The 'Violence Violence' album was a real eye opener back in 2006. Here was a straight edge band that wasn’t a piece of crap, full of macho posturing and chuggy metal breakdowns. The sound was rooted in early punk and the attitude felt snotty and confident. By the time 'Rohnert Park' was released four years later, the group had proved themselves to be a potential breakthrough act. Their popularity even secured them a deal with Matador. For long-time fans of the band, 'Zoo' was always going to be at the very least an interesting recording. and at the very most the moment their little group broke into the mainstream. For some 'Zoo' will be a huge leap forward. For others it tells the tale of a leap so huge the band left the playing field altogether. In reality once the dust has settled fans will find the new 'Ceremony' album is both and also neither of these things simultaneously. The group have simply sidestepped the hardcore crunch of old and replaced it with a more chaotic, buzzy and dare I say it; indie guitar sound. The message, the feel, the anger, despair and hope is all still there. In fact lead track 'Hysteria' has an intro that almost fools the listener into thinking that the thick hardcore punch will kick in any second; it lulls you into a false sense of business as usual security. Typical hardcore fans could well adopt the beat down position only to be ear bashed with a sound sonically closer to PIL and 2nd wave UK punk crossed with the noisier elements of the UK’s current hipster Shoreditch scene. In fact 'Repeating The Circle' could have well been a cut left of the most recent 'Male Bonding' record. It really is a daring path for a band of this style and size to take. Sometimes the songs such as 'World Blue', 'Ordinary People' and 'Community Service' are lyrically homing in on observations of the modern day consumer society. It’s pretty straightforward stuff and, whilst vocalist Ross Farrar isn’t exactly re-inventing the wheel with his prose, the Ramones musical style that gallops it's way through these songs does suit them well. Yet it’s when the big hooks and chorus come out on 'Hotel' and 'Nosebleed' that you think this musical side step really works. Everything comes together, and you would never believe it was the same band that penned 'My Hands are Made of Spite' back on the 'Violence Violence' long player. It is as if this was the plan all along. Whether the public takes to 'Zoo' is anyone’s guess. I for one can’t stop listening to it; it’s an electric thing, full of life and buzzing with energy. Surely any band that can have this effect on the listener is doing the right thing. As for what comes next? The only wrong move would be to stand still. Ceremony aren’t ones to rest on their laurels. They leap.

Track Listing:-
1 Hysteria
2 Citizen
3 Repeating The Circle
4 World Blue
5 Quarantine
6 Brace Yourself
7 Adult
8 Hotel
9 Ordinary People
10 Nosebleed
11 Community Service
12 Video

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Rohnert Park (2010)
Angry hardcore on third album from San Francisco-based band Ceremony, who have somewhat slowed down on it their usual breakneck pace and speed

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