How Ceremony took hardcore into the 21st century and made one of the album of the year.
There is no doubt about it that in terms of energy, ideas, atmosphere, intelligence and great guitar music that this is one of the albums of the year.
Ceremony have been around since the middle of the last decade, starting off with speed core, fast punk- as the years have rolled by they have tweaked this ballistic rush and created an inventive and powerful music that loses none of its initial impact.
The band have no fear and have escaped the genre straightjacket but somehow fit neatly in with the experimental flavour off early US hardcore of bands like Black Flag and Minor Threat who kept the energy of the ideas but messed with the music. The closest current band to them is Fucked Up with that same sense of tearing the fabric of noise and maybe IceAge in terms of reinventing the blueprint.
There may be some criticism that they have somehow watered down their hardcore rushes but this has only made their music better and the band have arrived at that perfect cusp between underground aural assaults and a far reaching rush of ideas that sees them as one of the key bands of the moment.
From the album’s start with Hytseria the band show that they are still prepared to deal out the hardcore wall of sound before breaking down into these great crew vocals that sound like something from a fifties gang movie.
Ross Farrar’s vocals define the sound, they sound like they have been sung on the cheapest mic in the world and cut throughout he wall of sound like Keith Morris on steroids was the band swerve from one style to another, World Blue is another west side story bad guy crew vocal, whilst Quarantine is almost jangly lo fi rock n roll indie before stomping into neo -Rudimentary Peri territory.
There are moments when Ceremony veer towards Joy Division or that most classic of early hardcore influences, Wire, there are even touches of the Cramps and the Gun Club cranked through a hardcore pedal and of the dark shakes of the Birthday party’s She’s Hit on the moaning Hotel. There is also the metallic KO wall of sound the first Public Image album or of early Flipper in here as well as a whole new sound of their own.
The inventiveness of the album is breathtaking and each track has a different flavour and a different feel and they all come dripping with melody and some great inventive guitar work.
Every now and then an album like this drops out of nowhere and changes the way we listen to music, Zoo offers so many escape routes that there can be no excuse from any hardcore band trapped in cliche any longer.
This is the sound of a future.