Hate is a tough thing to grasp for many people. They say they hate, but I'm not sure I believe it because the term "hate" is like love. It's thrown about haphazardly and used in offhand comments and that makes it lose it's true, immensely dark and angry feeling. So when a band aims to go for hatred as the main thing fueling their music, I rarely find it believable because it's not often that music alone can convey hatred. After listening to Ceremony's Violence, Violence, I think I finally found a band I believe. Not only do I find it convincing, but I'm afraid that if I don't, someone is going to pack their fists full of hate and take a swing at me.
As the brooding melancholy of "Violence" leads you down a dark hallway into the rest of the record, "Ghosts" breaks in like a wall falling and crushing you as you try to make your way. The music is seriously like this solid brick wall of careening debris, crushing your ears with pounding drums, heavy guitars and Ross Farrar's pissed-as-all-hell vocals driving the carnage forward. Like a tempest of whirling hatred, Ceremony rips through twenty songs in just a little over twenty minutes. Yeah, pretty fast. Not since Paint It Black's CVA have I heard a record that pulls so few punches in jumping straight to the point.
For me, that's also part of the problem. Ceremony drives straight to the point... and not much else. I like simplicity in hardcore, because really, that's what it's all about, but there are also entertaining aspects (backup vocals, gang vocals, unexpected solos, etc.) that some bands add to the music to give it a bit more substance. Violence, Violence is an absolute rampage of thunderous breakdowns and chugging guitars, but there isn't too much outside of that. It could be that they just weren't going for anything else, which is understandable, but I find it hard to see this record as something truly classic.
The lyrics are the real highlight of the entire record. The music conveys it, but the lyrics are what throws right in your face that pure, unadulterated feeling of rage that so many bands strive for, but never deliver on. You really have to read these lyrics and listen to the music to understand how powerful and desperate the feeling is, and that's one of the best things that Ceremony has to offer.
As my fellow reviewer has noted, Violence, Violence also includes the 7" Ruined. It's just unfortunate that the artwork from the 7" didn't inspire the artwork used for Violence, Violence because it was pretty badass. But Ruined flows just fine with the rest of the album, which is a bonus.
Violence, Violence is a very enjoyable listen if you're in a really bad mood and you're pissed off. It's also a great hardcore punk record, and fits into the definition of the style of music: short, fast, and angry. Outside of that, however, the music, though it's very fitting, doesn't really help the songs become memorable. It's the lyrics that make the songs memorable. And I don't mind that at all.
My buddy Dave said it best: "This shit makes me want to punch a whale." Ridiculous? Perhaps. But Ceremony's first full-length, Violence Violence is completely ridiculous. And I mean that as a compliment in every way. They released their Ruined 7" not too long ago and the hardcore hype train started a-chuggin'. You'd see kids in Ceremony hoodies and tees telling you it was the best 7" they'd ever heard. I heard names dropped - Infest came up the most. People swore their lives by this band. Generally, if this happens, one of two things can result: the band is a trendy, derivative piece of crap or, every once in a while, the product matches up with the hype.
Here's your chance to decide; I already have. Violence Violence opens with a creepy intro of an arpeggio chord plucked over and over again, giving a sense of dissonant doom, of the impending plane wreck that is to come. You hear the feedback rising and then BAM!, it's right into "Ghosts." "You will find things about yourself that you will soon forget," screams vocalist Ross Farrar as massively thick guitars thrash past your ears. A distorted bass and near blast beat drumlines pound into your skull.
But Farrar isn't done yet. "You can never be in love until you learn to be alone / You will never miss those heavy eyes until you're left with none / You can never achieve true happiness until you hang your head." The instruments all come to an abrupt stop. You wait. The breakdown comes, but it's atonal and has this fucked up, dissonant beat. And it's over. One minute, eight seconds. What the hell? One song? One epic song in just over a minute?
It continues. The next song, "Living Hell," is just barely short of forty seconds and features a wonderful break in the midsection with Farrar screaming, "FUCK FUCK FUCK FUUUUCCCCK!" in time with the instruments. It sounds like a broken, desperate man pounding his head against a brick wall in a dark, dirty alley. It sounds beautiful.
The music is angry, not just the lyrics, and this continues for all of the songs. It's fast, thrashy, and dark as hell and never lets up once on the album. Even during the terrific Red C cover! But what really seals the deal for me is the lyrical content, because I believe it. I believe that whoever wrote these songs felt some of the darkest emotions of the human spirit: introspective suffering, suicidal thoughts, intense hatred, and violent apathy. Even further, the lyrics routinely address the hardcore fashion show and rampant insincerity/shallowness that seem to be a mainstay of the scene these days. From "Cross Them Out":
Strict regards to all the walking dead, soon you will be struck down / Your miserable appeal destroys the masses / Wearing pretty faces filled with empty thoughts / Point my finger, place the blame, and I'll kill them off and cross them out.
I was consistently impressed with the entire LP. They even threw on the Ruined 7" at the end for everyone who missed it the first time around. Strangely, it flows really well with the rest of the songs; I feel it was birthed out of the same batch of anger that the songs on Violence Violence were constructed. It belongs here.
Pick it up. It's a solid release of pure, unadulterated hardcore fury. There isn't much punk out there that has this much emotion and passion in it. If this hasn't convinced you enough, I leave you with the best line on the album. It should be enough for you to go out and support this band every time they come within a hundred miles of you:
I'm here to wrap my hands around society's neck. / Slowly slip away against a lifeless grip. / A long painful death is what you deserve. / Open your mouth, bite the fucking curb
8.5 / 10
Reviewed by 2 writers.
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