15 years into their career, Rohnert Park band, Ceremony, continues to write emotionally charged songs, evolving from their sludge/powerviolence roots into more melodic efforts. This has led them to incorporate new wave into their sound.
Now on their 6th album “In The Spirit World Now,” Ceremony fully embraces wearing their influences on their sleeves now drawing inspiration from 80’s artists such as Depeche Mode, Devo, Talking Heads and New Order.
“Mileage will vary depending on your affinity for post-punk and motorik-esque beats…,” states Pitchfork.
The albums artwork reveals a lot about how the record sounds with its bright summer color palette, emanating from a dark door reflecting the record’s upbeat sound that incorporates chorus drenched synth as the primary instrument on the record.
Now signed to metal label Relapse, their production style has been a return to form utilizing a heavier style reminiscent to their early LPs with heavy thin guitar tones giving depth to the bright synth leads throughout. The distorted bass is mixed prominently throughout adding a sludgier take onto their 80s sound.
Opener and lead single “Turn Away the Bad Things,” starts up with droning synths accompanying the main driving bass line that leads into dream-pop territory with its bridge and outro containing swirling atmospheric guitars melded with lush vocals provided by an uncredited female. “ever Gonna Die Now” is a fast one minute guarantee to get any fan going side to side with its dissonant grindcore-esque synth chords that lead into a fast driving kick and bass combo accompanied with blaring guitars and even a slight fry scream style.
“Throughout, vocalist Ross Farrar strives to reconcile the coexistence of mortality and the relationships existing between humans and the people and things that surround them,” stated Consequence of Sound.
The cavernous effect on Farrars’ vocals from 2015’s “The L-Shaped man” was stripped to bring his singing to the forefront on this album and adding to the records more hook-based structures. “Years of Love” is the best use of their new sound, with an infectious synth lead, supporting Farrars’ catchiest hook to date on this break-up anthem.
The downside to this record is what makes the record charming in the first place: its sound. The introduction of synths into their sound wasn’t an overshot since they began using pianos as far back as 2008’s “Zoo.”
Tracks like “I Want More” can fuel the claim of the record being an 80’s revivalism attempt with its mechanical drums and staccato vocal delivery that could be mistaken for a Devo B-side. The title track falls victim to a pop trope of having the title repeated throughout the chorus and aided with a skeletal synth/drum instrumentation. It can create a mind numbing experience.
“In The Spirit World Now” is certainly not for everyone and the execution of the band’s aims for it isn’t always perfect, but…well worth checking out,” stated Echoes and Dust.
“In The Spirit World Now” is an interesting addition to the band’s discography with its very distinct sound being a complete new direction into their sonic endeavors, but neither making a big impact. Only clocking at a little over half an hour, the record drags heavily in the first half, but is worthy of a relisten solely on its second half. Ceremony shines when they use their new ideas to enhance their sound but when they take too much from their influences it comes off as 80s worship.