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Ceremony

Hardcore punk is in the middle of a resurgence, fueled both by reverent nostalgia for the broken nose physicality of the scene’s heyday (in an indie rock time significantly more chillaxed), and new bands willing to stretch the boundaries of the original sound. Fucked Up owned 2011 as a great example of the former, and their Matador Records label mates Ceremony are making a strong claim on 2012. The California band is hardly a fresh-faced newcomer, having released a string of critically acclaimed, intensely brutal records on tiny labels going back to 2005. But even the heaviest thrashing can lead to a bit of ennui. 2010’s “Sick” found the band Straining against their formative influences (“Sick of Blag Flag! Sick of Cro Mags!”) and, well, everything else (“Sick of Buddhism! Sick of longboards!”). The result of that restlessness is their new record Zoo, recorded with Sleater-Kinney producer John Goodmanson. The album slows down the band’s sound a bit, opens up their blistering punk with a deliberate stomachache rumble. Ceremony’s continued heaviness is not in question. But in melodic bursts like the chants that close “Hysteria,” and the world-weary sentiment of “Adult” (“we have to give up the things we love sometimes”) its rage is growing more sophisticated with age.