Album Review: Ceremony - 'Rohnert Park'

5 September 2010 | 6:23 pm | Staff Writer
Originally Appeared In

Old. School.

Remember when the earth was ruled by multi-coloured dinosaurs and bearded cave men? When the lands were filled with giant boulders, when Pterodactyls ruled the sky and volcanoes were kings of the ground? Or when we built the Pyramids, ritually sacrificed our mates on stone-temple altars and rode golden chariots to school? Whilst producing their longest release to date, what Ceremony have foremost created is a portal - a portal to the past. The title in itself contextualises the theme of this piece, and what Rohnert Park achieves is taking us back to our roots; the roots of history and the roots of Ceremony themselves, so to speak - doing this very well.  This album is old school. This album is punk. And for Violence Violence and Still Nothing Moves You fans, this album may be a stretch too far from their norm.

Ceremony’s ability to capture the attention of listeners across North America and the global hardcore/punk community lies in the authenticity of their punk ethic: the standard pissed off, middle finger, do what you want attitude which screams ‘fuck you’ at any second of any of their tracks. Rohnert Park perpetuates this. What Rohnert Park does not do, is carry the musical traits that foregrounded their previous releases, and from the first track this is immediately established. And if you’re covered in denim with Black Flag patches, with fluorescent mohawks and paperclip piercings, this may tend to your ears. ‘Sick’, screams social aggression.

Don't miss a beat with our FREE daily newsletter

"Sick of living

Sick of people dying

Sick of the buying

Sick of trying

Sick of television

Sick of telephones

Sick of homophobes

Sick of condos

I'm sick."

Everything about this sounds and feels like a mid 80’s DIY punk record - from the trashy, raw production to the slower, bouncier feel of each song, to the tameness of the clean/crunch guitars, to the syncopated vocals, to the standard punk drum beats throughout. Consequently, the assumed mindless, powerviolence destruction that infected past releases is lost through the almost punishing historic punk-esque feel of everything within this LP.  Don’t expect to swing fists to this CD.   Don’t expect to tear your hair from your head or rip the wallpaper off venue walls to this CD.  Don’t expect to sledgehammer a busted van to this CD.  Don’t expect to run circle pits and break floors to this CD.   Instead, expect to bob your head and maybe have a skate around your local neighbourhood, to this CD. At most maybe you’ll set a flag on fire, I don’t know.

The dead monotone flow of ‘The Doldrums (Friendly City)’ encapsulates the repetitive, tedious vibe present throughout. Instrumental, ‘Into The Wayside (Part II)’ re-enforces this once again with its down-tempo progression and wah-pedal solos, taking listeners through a kaleidoscope lens of the 21st century world. Look, this album isn’t bad. It’s just different.   Ross Farrar hits the nail on the head with his poetic discontent towards the vices of his surrounding society; his lyrics have a catchy, structured feel which capture his social opposition as seen in ‘Open Head’ and ‘Terminal Addiction’. And whilst Rohnert Park is punk, whilst its pissed-off and angry as ever, and whilst fans of this style will certainly applaud the honesty of this record, it doesn’t feel like the Ceremony we are accustomed to. 

Put down your fists, unclench your teeth - this is not the Ceremony record you expected.  No powerviolence beats, no shredding power chords. This is not a hardcore/punk release, this is an old school punk record. And though Ceremony’s most recent LP, Rohnert Park showcases their punk roots and demonstrates they truly know what’s up within this genre, its matured style may deter the common fan and avid thrash enthusiast. If the raw and bland production doesn’t stray this from modern extreme music, then the monotonous repetition of down-tempo verses and one-dimensional riffs may very well do so.  Whilst change is an essential part of everything, for Ceremony, change may have lost a loyal follower.  Ultimately for past fans, Rohnert Park is undoubtedly the parting sea of their audience - dividing contemporary listeners of violent music from mature followers of old school ethics.

1. Into The Wayside Part I / Sick

2. M.C.D.F.

3. Moving Principle

4. The Doldrums (Friendly City)

5. Open Head

6. Into The Wayside Part II

7. Terminal Addiction

8. Dont Touch Me

9. Back in '84

10. All The Time

11. The Pathos

12. Nigh To life

13. Into The Wayside Part III