A wholesale change of direction on your fifth record is always bound to present a little bit of risk, and whilst that’s not an accusation you could quite level at Ceremony this time around, there’s no question that there’s genuine bravery in the way they’ve approached ‘The L-Shaped Man’, which is bound to challenge their fanbase.

These songs – inspired by a messy breakup for frontman Ross Farrar – aren’t necessarily any less visceral than the raw bursts of punk that the California outfit have spent the past decade making their calling card, but the method of delivery feels like a little bit of a left turn; these tracks are studies in seething resentment and reluctant restraint, and the emotional effect that follows is more often than not a gut punch.

John ‘Speedo’ Reis of Hot Snakes and Rocket from the Crypt fame is behind the desk, and quite evidently so – his fingerprints are all over the guitar tone. That’s one of many shrewd choices on an intelligent record, from an old hardcore band who’ve always been acutely aware of punk’s real gift of total freedom.


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