The last few years have seen traditionally brash and frantic punk and hardcore bands tone down their music and allowed more pop and indie sounds to ease their way into their music. Examples of this include Fucked Up as well as Ceremony with their latest release 'Zoo'.
This is not to say this is a bad thing though. F*cked Up and Ceremony have always been partial to opening up their tastes to different aspects of the musical spectrum and this can work wonderfully and this is certainly the case in the opening track from Zoo. 'Hysteria' is a stripped back punk sing along with bass-laden riffs and plenty of symbol bashing before smashing into crew vocals.
With a band trying out new sounds there's inevitably going to be problems and the odd dud song. Sometimes the only way you're reminded you're not listening to a mixtape of various hardcore bands from different decades is Ross Farrar's distinctive lo-fi vocals. Despite this, Zoo is definitely the slickest release they have had to date.
Another highlight of Zoo is 'Ordinary People' which is a glimpse of Ceremony's more harder history with sturdy riffs complimented with Farrar's vocals being stretched and is a great mid-tempo punk anthem. The sheer diversity of the album is again shown as the record kicks into 'Nose Bleed', a track which sounds not too dissimilar to a mashup of Nirvana's early offerings and Joy Division and it's fitting that Farrar sings “I'll never be pure” as this song will never be considered a thoroughbred in the musical world.
But it's this bastardisation of music that makes Zoo a fun record to listen to; it's too often the case that we switch on a new record where every track just melts into one before we have any idea of what's going on. Zoo's charm is that it's nothing like anything else out there and this is typified with 'Video' to conclude the album; Farrar's vocal holding closely a deep angst before teasing the listener with a rowdy chorus before settling back into a dark and moody dwelling.
A decent offering from the hardcore outfit, who are showing off their musical attributes without really kicking it into third gear.