Reviews Ceremony Zoo



Few bands have covered as much ground within the confines of the hardcore genre as northern California’s Ceremony. The release of 2008’s Still Nothing Moves You saw a stunning display of brash powerviolence, while retaining traditional hardcore influence, and their third album, Rohnert Park, saw a stark evolution into more experimental and melodic territories without relinquishing the viciousness they’ve come to be known for. Ceremony’s latest release, Zoo, marks yet another transition in the band’s musical repertoire as they take a more direct punk approach, while integrating post-punk and surf rock influences to produce a full, cohesive album of intelligent, rhythmic hardcore.

Zoo’s largest departures from previous recordings are the exemption of the blinding fast pace led by guitarist Anthony Anzaldo and raw, relentless bite of vocalist Ross Farrar. The band’s past material has largely revolved around ferocious musical assaults of breakneck transitions and the grating howl of Farrar, but Zoo introduces a more laidback approach that results in a slowed down, melodic display of old school hardcore. Songs like “Repeating the Circle” and “Hotel” are constructed over mellow, steady bass lines that push the music along like the little engine that could with Farrar’s effortless drawl rising above the fray as he displays his vocal range has not been seen before in such capacities.

“Hysteria, hysteria, all we’ve ever known,” exclaims Farrar on the album’s opener, a track heavily built around pulsating, constant drums and a distorted, repetitive guitar riff. Without painting a picture of pessimism and complete hopelessness, Ceremony attempts to describe the state of living in the western world and the often contradictory impulses and rationales which we are often forced to face.

While Zoo is relatively relaxed in comparison to previous efforts, it still holds a sense of frantic urgency that reverberates through each song and helps develop the comprehensive feel of the overall product. In integrating varied and iconic influences, Ceremony has produced an interesting and exciting album in a genre often accused of becoming stale and repetitive. By not completely discarding the fury and raw power of their earlier material, but displaying it in a more concise and down-tempo package, they’ve successfully established themselves as one of hardcore’s most experimental and consistently intense bands. Zoo is a refreshing blend of intellectual frustration and unbridled energy, exerting its presence and unstoppable force in gritty punk fashion.

8.0 / 10Nick M.
KFAI - Roar of the Underground
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8.0 / 10

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