Ceremony, “Rohnert Park”
After a brief introduction, Ceremony kick off their excellent, genre-defying new record with “Sick,” an aggrieved anthem that unapologetically sneers at the hardcore tradition. Exuding frustration and flecked with bile, the singsong lyrics are less anarchy than heresy. Perhaps the most memorable of these express scene fatigue over the endless worship of Black Flag and Cro Mags, a sentiment that surely will come to define the Bay Area band whether they like it or not. “Sick” hocks a bloody loogie at this tiresome trend and indeed at modern hardcore’s status quo. So how then does Ceremony combat the stagnancy? Not unlike their contemporaries–and dare I say, peers–in Fucked Up and Pissed Jeans, the band funnels its fury into an eclectic mix of seething punk blues fusion (“Open Head,” “M.C.D.F.”) and unconventional slower moments like “The Doldrums (Friendly City)” and the brooding, plodding “Into The Wayside” installments. A willfully subversive and profoundly inspires record, Rohnert Park manages to stay linked to hardcore while being anything but beholden to it.

(4 out of 5 horns)

The Ghost Inside, “Returners”
While not likely to shake things up in the world of heavy music, The Ghost Inside make straightforward, no nonsense metalcore with an emphasis on the -core suffix. Returners delivers all the hallmarks of that sound, with breakdowns galore. “Unspoken” stands out with its gang vocal supported chorus and positive (Christian) mental attitude. CPMA ALL DAY! Clicky triggered drums distract from otherwise potent cuts like “Between The Lines,” though surprisingly not so on the soaring “Chrono,” which assails with its tough love lyrics “You’re not getting older / You’re just getting old.” Later, Thom Green, outspoken vocalist/evangelist for Sleeping Giant appears as a guest on “The Conflict,” a spirited debate on the dueling yet somehow coexisting ideologies in the Christian metal culture. Ultimately, any religious themes in The Ghost Inside’s music won’t be apparent to the casual listener, so don’t let their faith deter you from checking out this young act, you hardcore heathen.

(3 out of 5 horns)


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