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If nothing else, no one will be able to accuse Bay Area-quintet Ceremony of stagnation in 2015. After developing a reputation as masters of a ferocious form of post-hardcore and power violence on their first three records, they transitioned to a slightly more mainstream form of punk on 2012's Zoo. Now, in an interesting turn of events, Ceremony, who takes its name from the title of a song penned by Joy Division, appears to have tried their hand at taking that shtick one step further on their latest album, The L-Shaped Man. In name and now in sound, Ceremony sounds like a convincing attempt at reviving the spirit of Ian Curtis and the rest of the boys from Salford in all of their bleak post-punk glory.

Ceremony wastes no time in jarring previous listeners with the haunting piano opener, 'Hibernation.' Then, on the very next track, 'Exit Fear,' if one did not know better, they would think they got their copy of The L-Shaped Man mixed up with a lose collection of Joy Division B-sides (or at least I did). A menacing Peter Hook-esque bass line enters courtesy of Justin Davis. Then, a dissonant guitar riff a la Bernard Sumner cruises into the mix like headlights cutting through the night. To cap it all off, lead vocalist Ross Farrar, well known for his ferocious howls and screams, begins to emit what might be among the world's most convincing Ian Curtis impressions.

This formula follows throughout the rest of the record. The tracks range from the slightly rollicking, such as 'Bleeder', to the mopey, like the album's closer, 'The Understanding'. The former track is one that would potentially make Joy Division somewhat jealous. The sonic recipe remains the same, however, all the instrumentation, the guitars in particular, have significant bite to them. Joy Division was famously irked by producer Martin Hannett's decision to cast an atmospheric cloud over their sound on Unknown Pleasures. 'Bleeder' sounds like what one could imagine many Joy Division studio tracks could have sounded like if they had had things their way.

The adoption of this baritone vocal performance and a significantly more eerie, spatial sound all are major deviations from previous efforts by Ceremony. Zoo proved them to be a band willing to experiment, as they strayed into jangle pop and straightforward alt-rock upon their arrival at Matador Records. The L-Shaped Man, however, is so striking in its difference from the rest of the band's catalogue that it could prove to be a turning point in their discography. If the album succeeds with both critics and fans, which I'm hopeful will occur, it will be fascinating to see where the band takes this convincing Joy Division emulation. If it is to fail, however, it is possible that a regression could occur.

Regardless of the potential "what ifs", The L-Shaped Man makes for a fascinating homage to the band that spawned a million t-shirts. How Ceremony will fit many of these new songs into their set lists without creating an odd pace remains to be seen, but the group has clearly attempted to showcase their veneration and done so with conviction. Other big artists this year have tried to go a similar route by mimicking lesser idols and failed spectacular, which is likely a testament to Ceremony's immense skill. So take note Tyler The Creator: this is how one properly borrows from a group of heroes.

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