With Matador Records diversifying their roster in the late 2000s to include hardcore acts such as Fucked Up, Ceremony switched from Bridge Nine Records (home to Agnostic Front and New Found Glory) over to Belle and Sebastian's label for 2012's Zoo. The Bay Area punk group's sound has undergone some big changes since their first album in 2006. Instead of specializing in complex, frenetic outbursts, Zoo hones in on the straight-ahead, overdriven crunch of classic punk. Easily mistakable for a trio due to their tight symmetry and bare-boned approach, the five-piece barely breaks midtempo, and appropriately, Ross Farrar's vocal approach is dialed back from a screech to a tuneful shout. Everything continues to feel heavy, though, and the abrupt stutter-stops of "World Blue," and the ripping one-two-three power chord punch of "Citizen" keep the band cemented in punk power and show that they can be unpredictable, even when they're reeling it in. Even in the album's breathing points -- the raw ballads "Video" and "Hotel" -- Ceremony still sound like the most aggressive, confrontational group to show up on Matador's roster.
AllMusic Review by Jason Lymangrover