Ceremony Zoo(Matador) Buy it from Insound
It’s hard to make punk last any longer than a few albums. Its in-the-moment, spontaneous nature make it challenging to repeatedly recreate. Ceremony’s Zoo certainly sounds like punk. It's loud, the vocals are untrained and impassioned, the guitars are distorted and at least a little bit sloppy. It should all add up, but it had trouble making me feel anything.
If I had to explain to someone what modern-era punk sounds like, I’d play them Zoo. I’d do the same when if I was trying to explain what was wrong with it. It's derivative in all the wrong ways: loud and boisterous but polished and meaningless. This will not mean anything to anybody. It’s loud, driving and instantly forgettable. Decent album opener Hysteria shouts some nonsense about survival, some hysteria and how it’s all any of us have ever known. The rest of the album lives up to the title track, with more homogenous punk rock, devoid of any sort of substance. The band sounds like they’re on autopilot, creating what sounds like punk but feels like nothing. It's pleasing enough if you don’t pay attention. It's decent driving music and it would sound good in commercials or on a movie soundtrack. When made to stand on its own, Zoo is nothing but bland, vanilla punk.
Punk in 2012 often resorts to this, sounding exactly like its “supposed to” and offering nothing else. It sounds like the music you love, but lacks the fury and attitude. It’s no longer natural. It looks and sounds like punk in the same way that American cheese looks and tastes like cheese. You know what it’s supposed to be, but it’s also only a few molecules away from being plastic.
It’s not that any part of Zoo is particularly terrible; it’s more bland than offensive. Ceremony has put out solid hardcore/punk in the past, and I don’t doubt they could do it again. Zoo feels forced and bland. An album I can’t imagine picking up after I’m done reviewing it, not because it’s exceptionally terrible, but because I’ll have forgotten I have it. The song writing is passable, the sound is passable, but passable is usually as boring as it sounds.22 March, 2012 - 10:41 — Andrew Baer