Ceremony Credit: Courtesy the Artist

Northern California punk outfit Ceremony have been a vital part of the modern-day hardcore scene since their 2005 inception, but they’ve spent much of their career pushing as hard as possible to sound like anything but a hardcore band. Their earliest stuff was super aggressive, powerviolence-inspired hardcore, but by the early 2010s they’d begun making detours, diving into grimy, Stooges-style garage rock on 2012’s Zoo and making Joy Division-flavored postpunk a focal point on 2015’s The L-Shaped Man. On the brand-new In the Spirit World Now (Relapse), Ceremony move farther away from their roots than ever before. It’s a full-on new-wave pop record that combines herky-jerky guitars, layers of sci-fi synths, and huge, anthemic choruses. It’s an extremely fresh sound and feel for Ceremony, as well as a total surprise coming from a band whose efforts to distance themselves from hardcore have yet to have much effect on their live performances—almost every one still turns into a sweaty throwdown full of mike passes, stage divers, and circle pits.   v