California's Ceremony began as a turbulent hardcore band with a brutal sound that owed as much to old-school punk as it did to the unpredictable outbursts of grindcore. As they moved through their power violence beginnings in the mid-2000s, the band's sound morphed into considerably more melodic and gothic territory. The frothing punk energy that defined their 2006 debut, Violence, Violence, was all but unrecognizable from their Factory Records-indebted fifth album The L-Shaped Man, which arrived nine years later.
Ceremony formed in Rohnert Park, a town just outside of the Bay Area, in 2005. Made up of guitarists Ryan Mattos and Anthony Anzaldo, bassist Justin Davis, singer Ross Farrar, and drummer Jake Casarotti, they were briefly called Violent World before settling on Ceremony. They released a seven-song 7” entitled Ruined in 2005 and quickly returned the next year with a full-length debut, Violence, Violence, a 13-song, 13-minute album that found the band writhing in unfiltered aggression. The quintet followed up with a pair of releases, 2008's Still, Nothing Moves You and 2010's Rohnert Park, released on Bridge 9 Records. In 2011, Mattos left the band and was replaced by new guitarist Andy Nelson. At this point the band began tempering their raw, aggressive approach with post-punk influences like Wire and the Fall. After a surprising move to indie giant Matador, the band debuted their new sound in 2012 with the release of their fourth album, Zoo. By the time of 2015's The L-Shaped Man, traces of their hardcore roots were all but gone in favor of a more melodic, brooding sound that recalled bands like Joy Division and Bauhaus. In addition to The L-Shaped Man, Ceremony also shared their demo recordings made as part of the album's process. Their next album didn’t appear until 2019, when In the Spirit World Now arrived on new label Relapse Records. The ambitious affair expanded their post-punk-leaning sound with electronic touches and guest vocal contributions from Chelsea Wolfe and Nothing's Domenic Palermo. ~ Gregory Heaney & Fred Thomas