Ceremony – Zoo

written by: March 5, 2012
Release Date: March 6th, 2012


For a band lacking any social media outlets, the buzz surrounding Ceremony’s Zoo is impressive. The switch from the small, yet respected, Bridge9 Records to Matador’s roster seemed odd but encouraging after the stellar Rohnert Park LP. The jump raised questions and speculation among fans, especially given vocalist Ross Farrar’s growing sickness on Rohnert Park. Farrar was sick; sick of everything, really, including hardcore, life in America, telephones and even whoever was listening to his album at that moment.

So what does a band like Ceremony do after such a huge shift? On first listen, it seems the answer is whatever it wanted, and none of what was expected. Gone are the days of Farrar’s chewed-glass growl over thrash-tastic blasts of sound. In its place is a middle-finger inflected, monotone skate punk that encapsulates a tired, accepted rage: the natural progression from the spastic, violent sounds that erupted from the bands previous efforts. Even as the single “Adult” indicates, “We have to give up the things we love,” and the new phase in Ceremony’s style is one of weathered complacency.

In an uncommon blurb from Farrar on the band’s official website, he offers: “There are songs on the record that sound fast, slow, eerie, full or abrupt, each one different, but at the same time very similar. This is what reviewers call ‘comprehensive.’ I suppose this record is our first sort of comprehensive sounding record in that each song binds to one another better than we’ve done in the past.” What fans are going to have to accept is that they bind to each in the way molasses drips from a spoon, and not the fist-to-the-face melding of the past.

The droning vocals, the surf-guitar noodling, the straightforward early 1970s/’80s blues-based punk sound: it should feel alien and isolating given Ceremony’s catalog. Rather than sounding like a man bouncing around a white, padded cell, Farrar’s vocals occasionally sound reposeful. Absent is the in-your-face energy and emotion fans have grown to expect, and when listening to tracks “Nosebleed” and “Hotel,” it’s half expected that at any moment he could become comatose.

Yet it’s the lackadaisical, removed delivery that gives Zoo something that displays frustration in a new way. If the album‘s concept is that society is stuck in a self-built cage of adulthood and duty, then Zoo’s sound is reflective of its circumstances. We’re rattling against bars we installed ourselves, bottling our frustrations. We’re exhausting ourselves to the breaking point, “Repeating the circle … ,” as Farrar mumbles over a chilled, Orange County groove.This attitude of creeping, withdrawn insanity is further solidified on the track “Ordinary People,” where the lines, “Work is our water and we drink, drink, drink,” and, “Ordinary people, we do ordinary things,” are executed in an almost taunting way. It’s a lengthier, self-indulgent delve into the same gray torture that was so strongly presented on “The Doldrum’s (Friendly City)” from Rohnert Park. What the hell is left to do other than roll over and glumly accept our imprisonment, biding our time till someone lets the animals out of the zoo?

Ceremony – Zoo tracklist:

  1. “Hysteria”
  2. “Citizen”
  3. “Repeating the Circle”
  4. “World Blue”
  5. “Quarantine”
  6. “Brace Yourself”
  7. “Adult”
  8. “Hotel”
  9. “Ordinary People”
  10. “Nosebleed”
  11. “Community Service”
  12. “Video”