Ceremony - Rohnert Park (Cover Artwork)


Ceremony: Rohnert ParkRohnert Park (2010)
Bridge Nine Records

Reviewer Rating: 4.5
User Rating:

Contributed by: JohnGentileJohnGentile
(others by this writer | submit your own)

Paint It Black...Fucked Up...and now...Ceremony...um... Are we in the middle of a hardcore renaissance? While detractors from both inside the scene and out declared that "hardcore was stale" pretty much as soon as Black Flag slapped the "As a parent...I found it an anti-parent record" on Damaged in .
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Paint It Black...Fucked Up...and now...Ceremony...um... Are we in the middle of a hardcore renaissance? While detractors from both inside the scene and out declared that "hardcore was stale" pretty much as soon as Black Flag slapped the "As a parent...I found it an anti-parent record" on Damaged in 1981, it seems lately that we've got a new crop of bands going in fascinating new directions. These newer bands are taking the body of hardcore, sandblasting away every cliché, overused pattern and cheap trick, leaving the identifiable skeleton, and injecting surprising and clever elements, creating a creature that is definitely still hardcore, but is also fresh.

After dropping the teaser single "Sick" earlier this year, Bay Area-based Ceremony has just released Rohnert Park, an album that celebrates the best parts of the classic hardcore sound while tying in some adventurous and unexpected material, making an album that is downright hardcore and also downright...exciting.

Throughout Rohnert Park, Ceremony keeps throwing curveballs that don't feel like curveballs at all--they drop in unusual elements, but these strange pieces feel completely natural alongside their more traditional material. The album opens with "Into the Wayside," an almost mellow surf rock instrumental, which remains a recurring thread throughout both sides of the LP. But, as soon as you coast in onto the shores, Ceremony snaps into attack mode with the vicious "Sick," where Ross Farrar just vomits out what's been bugging him--which is pretty much everything. But, while repetition can be the death of a lot of hardcore, Ceremony builds upon the recurring structure, increasing the intensity with each refrain, until the song basically collapses in upon itself, echoing both the simplicity and pure genius of early Black Flag.

Plus, it helps that the band sounds so damn unique. While a lot of extreme music uses the instrument to create a wall of muddled chaos, Rohnert Park is filled with killer hooks that if slowed down, cleaned up and dressed in a respectable suit would fit at home on a Nuggets compilation. But of course, they don't clean them up, which gives the band the appearance that they might shatter at any second.

But, just when you think that Rohnert Park will be a relentless pummeling, it snaps back into the "Into the Wayside" theme, and drops in a vocal clip where an audibly shaken man talks about his confrontation with death at an early age. What makes the album so inviting is that while the band uses traditional minute-thirty screamers as guideposts, they also drop in some slow-paced hypnotic numbers that recall Nirvana as much as Joy Division.

Through all the chaos and calm, Farrar (sounding somewhat like a cross between Perry Farrell and Stza) spouts some intensely personal lyrics that tell a story much bigger than just what concerns the subjects. Take for instance on "'Back in '84" where Farrar recounts a tale of a messy birth (I think) that seems to be as much a cry of desperation as one of victory: "Back in '84 I nearly choked on the u-cord / until my dad came and cut me loose / he said, 'the pain you felt today, it will never go away' / and 'the best way out is always through.'"

Is hardcore stale and constrained by its own rules? Maybe from where you are, brother, but I'm over here listening to Ceremony's Rohnert Park, and what they're doing would knock Mona Lisa's teeth out.


People who liked this also liked:
Minor Threat - Complete DiscographyCeremony - Violence ViolenceDescendents - Milo Goes To CollegeCeremony - ZooPaint It Black - New LexiconOperation Ivy - Operation IvyLifetime - Hello BastardsFucked Up - David Comes to LifeThe Lawrence Arms - Oh! Calcutta!The Gaslight Anthem - The '59 Sound

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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.
renaldo69 (May 29, 2015)

much win

nedsammy (January 6, 2012)

Hey, never chipped in my opinion on this one...
It's frightening, angry, blunt, and brief, with a little dabbling in surf, psych, industrial, and alt-rock before it's over. Cermony are amazing, and I love this record like a screwed up brother, and I hope Zoo lives up to it.

FudgePakistan (August 17, 2010)

so i know i've complained alot about not understanding why this record is so good, but upon my 6 hour drive to school i listened to it in its entirety and i will say that its nothing too spectacular, it is an amazing record for that band and their transformation in their sound is unbelievable.

moneenerd (August 4, 2010)

"I wouldnt class a band that asks for guarantees as a DIY band."

Ughhh are you fucking kidding me? So all those zines kids sell for a dollar a piece at shows aren't truly DIY because they put a specific dollar value on their work? It's not like it's 50$ to see CEREMONY play. Punx can't ever be satisfied.

outbreak (July 13, 2010)

Whilst I dont like Vegan Reich all that much, and disagree with some of their politics and their militancy, they were responsible for starting hardline (again no so keen on the right wing politics, homophobia and pro-life bullshit) and all the bands that followed. Some of these bands were really good and produced a shape of hardcore different to what had come before. I included vegan reich because they did something different and had a large impact on hardcore.

mikexdude (July 12, 2010)

Vegan Reich...


outbreak (July 12, 2010)

I wouldnt class a band that asks for guarantees as a DIY band.
I really didint like this when Iistened to it. It was very repetetive with most of the songs having the same structure. I dont get the hype regarding ceremony; they were doing a similar sort of thing as trash talk in producing a watered down version of powerviolence, then they suddenly change their sound and are now termed experimental (this doesnt mean its any good... just that they tried something different).

The review suggests that since damaged was released ceremony and other such bands are the most exciting thing to have happened? What about Infest, Rites of Spring, Man is the Bastard, Vegan Reich?!! etc
I would regard this hardcore renaissance paltry in comparrison or merely trendy genre changing.

Cos (July 12, 2010)

I've echoed what mike's said before. DIY folks--its not just for Brokencyde anymore!

debbiefisher (July 12, 2010)

not so good actually

mattminds (July 12, 2010)

got it about a week ago. I'm hooked, this album is amazing. i love how it's not straight hardcore the whole way through, they mix it up a little bit. there's a bit of grunge influence in it. good mix, great album.

FudgePakistan (July 12, 2010)

i do love the "feel" of this record, but I agree with some complaints on his voice. they fit perfect on some songs and others it just seems half-assed (Terminal Addiction). overall i think its a damn good record.

Rastid (July 11, 2010)

wow, this is easily my least favourite hardcore album i've heard all year. i guess there is just no accounting for taste.

overdefined (July 11, 2010)

See Mike, when you write out a thoughtful well-reasoned response to something, no one reads it or comments on it. You have be inflammatory to get any type of reaction.

Misanthropee (July 11, 2010)

Fans, not bands. I also suck.

Misanthropee (July 11, 2010)

Good stuff for sure, but extremely overrated and their bands SUCK "hardcore." See what I did there?

brandonsideleau (July 11, 2010)

Outside of a few of the best hardcore bands in the early 80's....straight up hardcore with no variance can get old VERY quickly. Hardcore requires experimentation and variety in order to remain intense and lively...and this album is a good example of that. The newer Paint It Black albums illustrate that perfectly as well.

Michael_Berryman (July 11, 2010)

i feel like Blacklisted should have also been mentioned in the first paragraph. but great review and great record.

mikexdude (July 11, 2010)

But there are so many great releases put out this year that will get zero punknews attention.

Punknews is a user-submission based website. Staff reviewers review what gets sent to them, so if we aren't sent some hidden gem, it won't get reviewed. That's where the user comes in: You have noticed bands we will not cover naturally, so you should take it upon yourself to review the records yourself since you think they're so deserving. If not, I guess you're just as guilty.

I know the news editors tend to ignore some lesser known stuff, which is definitely a bummer, but I know for a fact that Brian will post any review that's submitted.

As for Rohnert Park. I'm surprised people are okay with the vocals. I feel like, since their first record, they've musically progressed. But vocally, it's not versatile -- and not even in an ironic, unaccessible way. Maybe versatile isn't the right word, but all the vocal patterns sound exactly the same to me. LOVE the instrumentals though.

DrGunn (July 11, 2010)

i'm still forming an opinion on this one. i like that they're not just making violence violence over again (cause something like that only works once anyway), but i'm not sure if the new direction plays to their strengths as a band or if the song-writing is entirely up to par. i'll play it some more and we'll see.

hobbzoid (July 11, 2010)

I think this reviewer is pretty good. But there are so many great releases put out this year that will get zero punknews attention. I recommend:
Bloody Gears
Young Offenders
Red Dons
Daylight Robbery

All have new releases. All good.

evildeadalive (July 11, 2010)

Does anyone like the AC4 album? That's my fave hardcore album so far this year... This sounds pretty good though.

IamtheAvatar (July 11, 2010)

First time I've ever listened to this band. But the sound of the record is amazing. I've yet to put it through my car speakers, but it sets my headphones on fire.

shitsfucked (July 11, 2010)

realllly bad record.

quickattack (July 10, 2010)

I like it a lot, I dont know about best hardcore album this year, but its up there.

Also Fucked Up does not blow...

conblake (July 10, 2010)

man, this album sounds good

foldskool (July 10, 2010)

Never heard this band before this album, and I like how it's controversial amongst fans. Definitely album of the year for me. I want bash in skulls and crash my car into a bus full of kids when I listen to it. Good times.

ZachLeg (July 10, 2010)

best hardcore record of the year

still_ill (July 10, 2010)

Because of the aforementioned stylistic changes, this one defiantly took a few spins for me to form a cohesive opinion. But once it truly sank in, and I was able to look at it apart from their other records, I have decided that it totally rules. Does Into the Wayside Part III vaguely remind anyone else of Elliot Smith?

dreeeamweaver (July 10, 2010)

fucked up blows, dudes.

upthepunx (July 10, 2010)

Definitely my favorite hardcore album of the year so far. It was not what I was expecting from a Ceremony album at all, and it blew me away. Everything about it is pretty great.

Also, it is definitely a contender for best album art of the year.

TheDeej (July 10, 2010)

This album is so good. Ceremony is always pushing the sound that they have. This album is like no other, but so is every other album. This band is just good in general. Still Nothing Moves You is still my favorite, but Rohnert Park come in at a close second.

victim (July 10, 2010)

yeah, not sure how I feel about it either. But I liked Violence Violence alot so I suppose I was bound to be resistant to change

GlassPipeMurder (July 10, 2010)

agree with Brian, but I like the way they've been able to switch direction so flexibly. not that they should keep moving away from the post-powerviolence type stuff but it's a good change of pace.

also: best cover art this year?

inagreendase (July 10, 2010)

Only listened once so far, so I'm not sure how I feel about it.

The one thing I think that was not addressed was that almost this entire record feels locked into one medium tempo--there's virtually no versatility in how it moves. I mean, yeah, "Into the Wayside III" is slower, and a pretty rad MBV/Nirvana mesh, but that's the only time it really feels like they change up the pace.

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