The album opens with the beautifully bitter “Into the Wayside Part I/Sick”. The song has a slight old-fashioned western throwback delay, feeling like the introduction to a John Wayne film. Soon John Cazarotti’s drums come a pounding in and bassist Justin Davis lays down some heavy low notes. When Farrar blasts in with the list of the many things he is sick about, the song is churning quickly as a spitting punk affair with a clear message: the world is a shitty place, and Ceremony are here to remind you about it as bluntly as possible. It is a simplistic song for sure but it is a great introduction as well. “M.C.D.F” continues with this sound as Farrar barks over punk style chords. “Moving Principle” takes after the famed intellectual punk sound that Fucked Up has currently popularized.
Ceremony have gone a different direction this time around, and the result ias a smarter album with a harder bite. It may not be as blantantly spastic as their previous albums, but the sound stills owes just as much to Black Flag as it ever did. Songs like “The Pathos” hold true to Ceremony’s old style too, so it isn’t all changed.
But that isn’t to say that Ceremony got it all right this time around. Rambling songs like “The Doldrums (Friendly City)” stick out like a sore thumb, especially considering that it is about 1/100th of the tempo of the rest of the album. “Terminal Addiction” uses a wood block metronome in the background which adds little to the song but a headache. But still, Rohnert Park is a great album that meanders a bit at times but quickly blasts itself back on track.