A Tasteful, Dignified Ceremony
There’s always a small bit of trepidation when we hear that a favorite band has signed to a major label. Have they sold out? Will every sixteen-year-old “Queen of the Scene” be sporting a cut-up version their t-shirt? Should you throw out all their old EPs? When it comes to California quintet Ceremony, who recently made the move to Matador Records, we can all heave a collective sigh of relief. Ceremony have merely taken the resources that Matador can bring to bear and used them to improve their sound.
Ceremony has always managed to subtly defy conventional categorization. Too gothic for hardcore, too hard for goth rock and far too musically proficient to be lumped in with most of modern punk’s offerings, their sound has the earmarks of bands gone before them, like the Psychedelic Furs and Wire. Instead of merely jocking their idols, Ceremony took notes on the pinnacles and pitfalls of previous act, keeping an eye on what to avoid and what to accept. Instead of using the band as his bully pulpit, Ross Farrar makes simple, yet unimpeachably true, statements about living instead of sweeping generalizations about “society.” What ultimately makes you take notice of Ceremony is their unbridled gusto: they’re a rare band who still see making music as playing. From the heavy intro of “Hysteria” to the fading cymbal crash at the end of “Video,”Ceremony serves up track after track of hard, unadulterated punk rock. At long last, a group who intrinsically understands how punk works, and does it well, has come around to be a much needed shot in the arm for a genre that’s long ago slid into a sad state of complaceny.
Ceremony is, ultimately, completely undeniable. Free from the gimmickry of youngblood acts like Cerebral Ballzy, Ceremony is all about making top-notch music. Whether or not we care to listen to it seems to come like an afterthought to them. It’s pretty rare to be able to say, but if you don’t like Ceremony, you probably just don’t like punk.