I have been following Ceremony for awhile now, and this San Francisco hardcore band’s newest release, Zoo, is a departure for them as it is not really hardcore. This is their fourth album, and the first on their new label, Matador Records.
Ceremony have reinvented themselves over the years, and Zoo sounds very little like their first LP, Violence Violence from 2004. Not surprisingly, this debut was a violent-sounding album, which had 13 tracks but was only 13 minutes long. By the time they got to their third album, Rohnert Park, things had slowed down quite a bit and gotten a bit more textured, almost like they had grown tired of their roots and were maturing their sound.
This post-punk trajectory sets the stage for Zoo to be something special, but it misses the mark for me, and comes off as being very moody and plain. This album is short, but the 36 minutes it takes to listen to it seems like a couple of hours.
Zoo starts out strongly with “Hysteria” and beautifully grinds to a stop with “Video”, and I really like “Adult”, but the rest of the tracks are bland garage band punk offerings that are no different than a lot of new music that is coming out today. And this is not a problem of production; as this album sounds better than any of their previous releases, but more that many of the songs are just not very compelling. With the exception of the three tracks I call out above, the rest of the music is dull, and even the band seems disinterested in what they are playing.
I am going to have to say “skip it” if you are considering buying Zoo. If you want to see what Ceremony is capable of, purchase Rohnert Park instead.