Last year, experimental hardcore act Ceremony moved from Bridge Nine to indie titan Matador records. In his interview with Punknews, frontman Ross Farrar warned fans that things were about the get weirder.
He wasn't lying.
"Hysteria," the first track released from the band's upcoming album Zoo, retains a link with their critically acclaimed Rohnert Park LP, but as much as it branches off that album's weirder elements, it also starts anew.
The track opens with walls of metallic, soaring guitars, before breaking into a mid-tempo cadence, reflective of the earliest U.K. punk records. But, where Farrar used to scream, he now seems to sermonize with a detached voice. He exclaims that "Hysteria is all we've ever known." It's interesting that where his former throat shredding suggested that he was the one directly experiencing the pain he was detailing, his prophetic intonation now suggests that he's speaking for a group, perhaps even the entire human race, pulling Ceremony from a personal band, to a universal one.
But, just as the band seems to have settled into its groove, the coda includes an almost tribal group wailing, previously unheard of on the group's records, which both suggests that Ceremony's new works will be less introspective and more introspective, as well as the band's interest in applying unused tools in the punk and indie landscape.
Of course, because the band has altered their sound, it seems they're are prepared for the core-punk lash back. Perhaps as a way to confront the criticism as soon as it is birthed, the band includes a cover of the Urinals "I'm a Bug" on the flipside. While the Urinals were one of the earliest punk bands, were they to form today, they probably wouldn't be considered "punk" by punk circles due to their cacophonous music that rarely relied on standard song format and weird song subjects, including "I'm a Bug" which seems to be quite literally about being a bug. The Ceremony version seems to have been recorded in the same sessions as their Covers EP, in that it features an energetic, clean sound and places Ceremony's metallic and raw trademark hooks on top of the original, all while maintaining a respect for the original's core composition. With the cover, through example, the band seems to be saying, "punk is whatever is different from what is out there, it is not merely playing in a proscribed song format."
If "Hysteria" is any indication of the band's adherence to that axiom, Zoo will be one hell of a punk record indeed.