Reviewed: Ceremony – The L-Shaped Man
Ceremony first started to gain recognition for being an in your face, energizing, pure California hardcore band, with their first album, Violence Violence, released in 2006. The band maintained this reputation until their 2012 release, Zoo, which showed a much more experimental side.
I had never thought of the band outside of the hardcore genre, but Ceremony’s frontman Ross Farrer has shown himself to be quite the chameleon on the band’s new release The L-Shaped Man, transforming almost completely from hitting notes of raw aggression on the band’s first release. Comparing the latest release to the band’s first album shows how much the band has progressed, and matured.
Lyrics and the mood experienced through Violence Violence and the 2008 release, Still Nothing Moves You, were aggressive, angry and completely embraced the California sad kid. It was the equivalent of drinking a 5 shot americano and being frustrated with the world. With lyrics such as “I hate everyone and every fucking thing, this is my war” it is obvious that the boys of Ceremony weren’t aiming to be viewed as wholesome and sweet, with influence taken from earlier bands such as Infest and Black Flag.
Their new release is anything but aggressive. It seems like the boys have learned to cope past anger and are now just a bit sad, but talented nonetheless. The L-Shaped Man echoes almost eerily of an obvious Joy Division influence—Ross Farrer has encompassed the subtly heartbroken shaky and somewhat hollow voice of Ian Curtis—while some of the tracks have a definite melodic 8’0s pop feel with a bit of a haunting Bauhaus vibe at the same time, keeping their Cramps influenced twangy guitar rifts and upbeat drums that have held true throughout even the bands earliest albums.
Zoo, the album before The L-Shaped Man, exposed the band to a whole new fan base as it was a completely different feel than anything prior, paving the way for the softer makeover of the band which is demonstrated more prominently on the latest release.
If you miss the old tortured growls of Farrer, signature hints can be found on The L-Shaped Man on tracks such as “Root of the World” and “The Bridge.” This album echoes themes such as loneliness and being numb after experiencing enough pain, in a relatively comforting way. On the track “The Bridge” a subtle chanting of “It didn’t hurt, it didn’t feel like anything” is laid out intentionally raw to be absorbed, then smoothly transitioning into the last track “The Understanding,” ending the album on a strong note, with a feel similar to Interpol’s 2002 release Turn on the Bright Lights.
Fans of Ceremony have no reason to be disappointed by the new release as the album holds true to an honest tone throughout and it is obvious that the boys were not lazy or uninspired with this one. I look forward to future releases from Ceremony as they have proved to be quite the transformational act.