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Ceremony - Zoo (Cover Artwork)

Ceremony

Ceremony: ZooZoo (2012)
Matador Records

Reviewer Rating: 4
User Rating:


Contributed by: JohnGentileJohnGentile
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Although 2010's Rohnert Park gave hints of Ceremony's impending metamorphosis, Zoo exhibits the group emerging from their cocoon as an entirely new entity, albeit one sharing an internal structure with their former selves. Immediately upon the first crack of the album's first track, "Hysteria,".
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Although 2010's Rohnert Park gave hints of Ceremony's impending metamorphosis, Zoo exhibits the group emerging from their cocoon as an entirely new entity, albeit one sharing an internal structure with their former selves.

Immediately upon the first crack of the album's first track, "Hysteria," it becomes apparent how much the band has progressed. Anthony Anzaldo's metallic guitar hangs in the air, cutting broad strokes across the song. While the massive sound still retains early Cro-Mags as a reference point, the clean, purposefulness of the notes suggest the precious and cold distance of early post-punk innovators Wire, Crisis and Gang of Four.

Whereas the band used to throttle forward at a blinding pace only to snap to a lumbering breakdown, they've cleaned their instrumentation. Instead of creating sheets of white noise in order to make a huge racket, each note seems to have its place. Indeed, on slower and steadily paced tracks "Hotel" and "Video" the band seems to savor each beat, letting the fill color of the music grow and finally fade away before moving on to the next flavor.

Such a tactic shows one of Ceremony's greatest strengths. Where hardcore bands seem to merge together into a indecipherable mass of dudes in black, Ceremony has opted to give each tiny element a purpose, and remove any excess material. Where the band used to be red hot explosive anger, now they are distanced, cold and calculating.

Even more interesting is how the new approach has evolved the band, as well as highlighted their core identity. Ross Farer's lyrics and vocal delivery have evolved to a more detached perspective. On older tracks such as "Back in '84," "Open Head" and "This is My War," Farrar seemed to be screaming from the pit of his stomach about topics that affect him directly, or at least the direct interactions between two people. But, on Zoo Farrar seems to address topics from a universal perspective. "Hysteria"and "Community Service" talk about the human race as a whole, contemplating the human condition more than a particular person's troubles. The presentation of these concepts is highlighted by Farrar's new vocal style. In place of his throat shredding screaming, he now calls out to the winds, perhaps inhabiting the role of a prophet or philosopher--on both accounts able to make broad proclamations about things bigger than those directly at hand.

But, as the band stretches outward, it becomes clear that their core has remained the same. Not that Ceremony has ever been a band to wear their influences on their sleeves, but in their earlier works, they seemed to be drawing from the same well as the hardcore legends of yesteryear. While the music here is perhaps more reserved, the band retains their unique talent for writing snappy, simple hooks that bewilderingly have never been recorded before, despite their spark, much in the way the earliest punk rockers out rocked the original rockers.

The evolution has come at somewhat of a cost. While Ceremony has always been a unique band, and now they are even more singular. But in becoming larger, both in sound and concept, the band doesn't sound quite as fierce--the edge of desperation which made their work so visceral and direct has been replaced by a sound that more begs to be dissected and savored instead of lived and devoured. That's not to say that the change was a poor decision. To, the contrary, the new sound exhibits that the band wisely has stepped outside the arbitrary confines of hardcore punk, but in doing so, some of the bonuses of those confines have dissipated.

In stretching their wings, it seems that Ceremony has recorded their most honest record to date. Between its ghostly riffs, moaned lyrics, and throbbing pulse, Zoo is a Ceremony changed, but by so willfully accepting, and even pursuing this change, the band has released their most "punk" record to date.

 

 
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Fucked Up - David Comes to LifeClassics of Love - Classics of LoveCeremony - Rohnert ParkThe Flatliners - CavalcadeOperation Ivy - Operation IvyAgainst Me! - is Reinventing Axl RoseThe Gaslight Anthem - The '59 SoundConverge - All We Love We Leave BehindThe Lawrence Arms - Oh! Calcutta!Joyce Manor - Joyce Manor

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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
NotPatriotic (June 4, 2013)

"adult" fuckin rips

IAmLosingx (November 4, 2012)

Good review. Decent album. I still prefer old ceremony though.

shenaniganss (April 3, 2012)

Boring. Quarantine and Citizen are the only decent songs, and they still get on my nerves halfway through.

mychoice (March 8, 2012)

I could not get into this. I tried and tried but I gotta say I like Ceremony better when they sounded pissed off.

blip (March 6, 2012)

it's cool they have avoided getting pigeonholed.

ZachLeg (March 6, 2012)

Love this record

JVoland (March 6, 2012)

I like this album, I really do... but half the songs sound like Flipper and the other half sounds like Pixies. Both amazing bands, but they wore their influences a bit thick this time around. I'd really like to hear an album that sounds more in between this and Rohnert Park.

RadToTheMax (March 6, 2012)

This is a cool little punk album.

eatdogs (March 6, 2012)

"I'm also glad I saved my first review read of this album for PunkNews. It's hard to take all the other websites seriously when you do a search into their archives and notice that they've never bothered to cover Ceremony until their Matador signing."

exactly. you can't trust those sites with their bands of the moment mentality.

overdefined (March 6, 2012)

I think this record is good in theory, but I don't really find myself enjoying it when I listen to it.

essenceoftong (March 6, 2012)

great album. as everyone else seems to be hearing influences, i'll go with them sounding at times like a cross between early buzzcocks and public image

Michael_Jackson_Jordan (March 6, 2012)

I'm also glad I saved my first review read of this album for PunkNews. It's hard to take all the other websites seriously when you do a search into their archives and notice that they've never bothered to cover Ceremony until their Matador signing.

inagreendase (March 6, 2012)

Best record since 'Scared People'. Sounds like Dead Kennedys.

sailin_on (March 6, 2012)

Really dig it, thanks for the review

Michael_Jackson_Jordan (March 6, 2012)

Cire, it's funny you say that because while (and I wanna preface this by saying I think this album is great) while a lot of reviews I've read have drawn similarities between Ceremony and more hipster-friendly punk influences, I hear a lot of similarities between this album's singles and older Green Day and AFI as well. It's the clean production that makes me think that.

Cire (March 6, 2012)

I haven't listened to the whole album yet, but those songs that they released early reminded me a lot of early 90's Green Day for some reason.

thepopeofchili-town (March 6, 2012)

LOVE IT. One of the best of the year.

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