I really loved Ceremony’s last album, Rohnert Park. It seemed inspired by acts such as the Dicks and Black Flag. The sound was passionate, creative, and intense. There was fury matched with sincerity. Now they’ve signed to Matador and seemingly lost much of that feeling and their edge. While the album starts with a great song, “Hysteria,” the other eleven songs (twelve songs, thirty-six minutes total) just seem dull and tired. While there are a few exceptions, such as “World Blue,” the sound and vocals seem muted and lacking passion. The entire album seems too long, monotonous, and boring. Musically, the band is hardly intense and seem to be channeling Wire, Dead Kennedys, Public Image Ltd. and the Sex Pistols, but not in an inspiring way. It’s as though they took a little bit from each of those bands and came up with something average instead of outstanding. It seems as though they’re starting to play their influences, which is always a bad idea. The band may argue something such as “We’re maturing” or “we didn’t sell out” and that may be true and is totally acceptable, but it doesn’t have to mean that they lose the things that made them good in the first place: creativity, intensity, and focus.