ToH’s 2014 Contenders For AOTY: Pyrrhon – The Mother Of Virtues

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In extreme music, listeners are often praised for having high “endurance”. Music that is nasty, harsh, difficult or unusual is often placed on a pedestal for these qualities. For many fans, technicality is given higher marks than melody or songwriting. Slam metal, raw black metal, “hideous sludge”, and noise records all have die hard fan bases; these are some of the most extreme subgenres under this umbrella. Many records require the listener to visit them over and over before they even start to make sense. One of my favorite records from 2014 falls into this difficult camp. That record is Pyrrhon’s The Mother Of Virtues.

Pyrrhon promo.

Pyrrhon

The Mother Of Virtues is a strenuous album, and I mean that in the very best way possible. This is akin to walking through the mind of a mentally ill person. It scares off potential listeners, and challenges those who mean to stay with it. It demands repeated spins. The press release from Relapse Records called The Mother Of Virtues “investigational death metal”. Kudos to the guy who coined that term, even if I’m not really sure what it means. I call Pyrrhon’s most recent album advanced level death metal. This album combines angular death metal, a dash of grind,  plus noise rock that sounds like it came from Shellac’s burlier cousin on ketamine.

The opening track, “The Oracle Of Nassau”, is a furious assault. It’s a minute plus of grind before the song changes tempo and lurches into something else, and fades out with only a long scream from singer Doug Moore before it fades into the next song. The next song, “White Flag”, oozes into noise rock territory, slow moving before, it, too, changes into a different animal. The tempo changes and structural shifts in many of these songs would be enough to make The Dillinger Escape Plan dizzy. “White Flag” changes completely again before its near ten minute run time is finished. The tempo slows to a near crawl and the music gradually drops out, which leads to one of only a couple decipherable vocals on the whole record, at barely a whisper.  This is the world we’ve made for ourselves. The music picks up again, not like any of the song before it. Slow, heavy, pounding. The “gentler” moments don’t provide relief, they produce anxiety.

On the fourth track and one of the advance songs for this record, “Balkanized”, we are given the only other clearly recognizable moment of Clean Singing. Near the end of the song Moore screams it’s not personal two times, before the song fragments in a different direction and anything resembling clarity in the vocals is lost. I haven’t read the lyrics to any of these songs (I rarely do), so this moment is played to tremendous effect. On tracks like Eternity In A Breath and the last track / title track, The Mother Of Virtues, Pyrrhon play what almost sounds like free form jazz. Loose, all over the place, together at times and moving in wayward directions at times; these songs and other moments throughout seem almost improvisational.

Who are the forefathers to this style? Where did this sound come from? I haven’t heard a record that sounds quite like this in 2014. Pyrrhon only displayed a hint of this on their previous efforts. This is not progression, it is an mutative leap forward. Similar not so much in sound but in tone, this record reminds me of Gorguts’ maddening Obscura; perhaps a spiritual ancestor if not a direct source of inspiration. Relapse Records has this labeled as technical death metal on Pyrrhon’s Bandcamp, but is it, exactly? You will have to decide for yourself. This is not an easy listen; it is rewarding for those who are willing to stick it out. Pyrrhon has a number of contenders for what may be the best heavy album of 2014, including Artificial Brain, Son Of Aurelius, Swans (if you include them in this conversation, and I do), and of course Pallbearer’s Foundations Of Burden due out later this year. Lucky for us, we don’t have to pick an absolute favorite until December. I will say I can’t wait to hear what Pyrrhon does next. Check this album out and sound off in the comments with some of your favorites and most anticipated records of 2014!

 

 

 

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  • Right now for me AOTY is a toss-up between Panopticon and Body Count.

    • Negrodamus

      Body Count w/ Ice-T?

      I *need* to check out that Panopticon.

      • http://thetruepanopticon.bandcamp.com/album/roads-to-the-north

        Halfway joking about Body Count but they messed around and put up a really damn good hardcore record.

        • Sponge Of Mystery

          lol one of the tags is minnesota, i guess i never really realized how black metal we could be

          • Negrodamus

            Minnesota = tr00 kvlt winters

          • Tyree

            Random. Did you watch the FX series Fargo?

          • Negrodamus

            Indeed, I thought it was pretty solid.

          • Tyree

            Agreed. I talked to somebody that said he thought it was better than Trve Detective. Can this be Trve? I still haven’t watched it yet but I have a strong suspicion that it’s not.

          • Negrodamus

            I preferred Trve Detective, but TD is one of my favorite recent shows I think that first season of TD honestly ranks against TV’s finest seasons, so I am a little biased lol. Good buddy of mine preferred Fargo.

          • CyberneticOrganism

            I still need to check out Trve Detective, and I’m absolutely going to spell it like that when discussing it on the intarwebz from now on.

          • Negrodamus

            I love that show! Dude I watched it three times I am not kidding you, I watched it twice on my own then I got my girlfriend and roommate to watch it with me. I quote it endlessly online. I picked up the trve from someone else online, probably at MS lol

          • KJM

            “Trve Detective”

            Ha ha! Awesome.

          • Sponge Of Mystery

            yes

        • dat Body Count rekkid is VERY good. you’re right about good hardcore, there’s also some great thrash on there too. and let’s not forget how incredible the lyrics are.

      • That Panopticon record is so good! I’ve been jamming this Pyrrhon record since it came out and it is also great stuff! Saw them in March and I’m super-stoked they are coming around again with Gigan and Artificial Brain. What a great lineup top to bottom! EDIT: …and I totally agree that this album is a “mutative leap forward” for them. Sounds almost nothing like the earlier records.

        • Negrodamus

          I saw that tour and I think me making is an impossibility which sucks! I’m also a huge fan of Artificial Brain’s newest album and I hear a lot of good things about Gigan.

          • i’ll never forget the moment i fell in brolove with you Negro, “14 minutes ago” when you mentioned Gigan.

          • Negrodamus

            I thought our brolove stemmed before 30 minutes ago lol

          • whoops, i dug myself into a hole with that one!

            check out Quasi-Hallucinogenic Sonic Landscapes by Gigan… cause you got no other new music in your queue 🙂

          • Negrodamus

            Pushed play on the first song on that now, before I eat these Eggo waffles for dinner lol

          • well…………… how was dinner???

          • Negrodamus

            Pretty bomb. Eggo waffles are consistent.

    • RuIN?

      I cannot get over that cover of “Institutionalizes”. It cracks me the fuck up. Especially that verse about vegans. Holy shit.

    • Mr.CustodialArts

      That BODY COUNT record is waaaaaay better than it has any right to be in 2014! It’s hilarious, slammin’, socially aware, AND informative! (I had no idea he wrote ’99 Problems’). Play it for all your white friends!

      • CONAN THE MOTHERFUCKING KING

        I bought it right away , the only song i don’t like is the acapella one where he talks about the different kinds of girls he fucks.

  • Sponge Of Mystery

    i liek dis alot. I agree, idk if this is exactly tech death…its cool though fo sho. Also on a side note, can somebody tell me if Cradle of Filth is worth getting into or not? i cant tell

    • As always, art is subjective and no one can tell you what you should or shouldn’t like.

      That being said, for me Cradle of Filth is a lol factory.
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6dW6aNAZGTM

      • Tyree

        Riotact666 would love this.

        • It’s kinda funny though. Dani Filth’s voice would be AWESOME in a thrash band.

          • Tyree

            Dudes got potential, but goddamn Cradle is just awful.

      • Sponge Of Mystery

        i love black metal, not too much into symphonic anything. COF always seemed like legit “try hard black metal posers”

        • COF are literally “hot topic posers”. black metal for teens.

          • Sponge Of Mystery

            ok thats all i needed to hear, i didn’t like that first song at all lol

          • Sponge Of Mystery

            but did they EVER have any good black metal? or was it always terrible?

          • CONAN THE MOTHERFUCKING KING

            i remember when principle of evil made flesh first came out and COF were billed as the next big thing in black metal. They were the chosen ones so to speak, to bring black metal to the masses. The same year de mysterious dom sathanas came out, marduk had already been around for 3 years. Cof held their own so to speak for a while there in the beginning. But they degenerated rapidly with un-ending games of musical chairs and the band centerpiece dani filth did not hold the winning cards and of course still doesn’t. Avoid as my comrade McNulty says.

          • Luis

            Akercocke all the way ☺️

        • Max

          As Conan suggests, there was a time when Cradle of Filth were seen as providing a really interesting, non-Nordic take on black metal that didn’t rely on semi-literate murkiness. At the risk of being a massive heretic, I thought their first album and the EP that followed, “Vempire…”, were a way better-realized version of “baroque black metal” than what Emperor were accomplishing in that period. They were pretty much the only keyboards-using BM act I could tolerate, really. The fact they had credibility issues right from the start was more a reflection on the narrow mindedness of the nascent black metal scene of the time than of the 14 year-old goth fanbase they were yet to inherit. And Dani was a very entertaining frontman if you saw them live.

          But from “Dusk…” onwards I was done with it. The music became a caricature of itself and even CoF ran afoul of the usual symphonic BM trap: making the keyboards so loud that everything else just sounds thin. The one point of difference they’d started with was that the keyboards, while central to their sound, had been kept under control. Not anymore. Add more of Dani’s hysterical screams and all the female-foil backing vox, at a time when gothic metal was becoming a point of contention anyway because of its cliches, and the whole thing became really effete. Stick to the first record and the EP or don’t bother at all.

          • Howard Dean

            Well said. I’m not a CoF fan, really, but Dani has always been one of the better metal lyricists. Dude can write.

      • Sponge Of Mystery

        but i do not like this lol

    • Xan

      I wouldn’t recommend them but that may be because I’m not really that big on black metal. I would definitely check them out because a lot of other people seem to enjoy them. I just found their shit to sound too much like carnival music.

    • Owlswald

      I’ll save you time and recommend Dusk and Her Embrace. It’s the best all around album in their discography.

      • Sponge Of Mystery

        thanks dood ^.^

        • Keegan Lavern Still

          Midian’s worth checking out, too. It’s my particular favorite, and Dusk is a very close second.

  • Tyree

    Wow, I had no idea you were a Pyrrhon fan 😉 Killer album and write up Negrodamus. “Sleeper Agent” is one of my favorites off this album, it’s got a lot of Gorguts vibes going on in it.

    Some of my favorites from this year in no order that come to mind are Dead Congregation, Vermin Womb, Diocleation, Slaphe, SOAR, Coltsblood, Plebian Grandstand, Ruine, Ad Infinitum, Black Monolith, Emma Ruth Rundle, Keeper, Bastard Feast, IMPETUOUS RITUAL, Bongripper, Violent Hammer, Heresiarch, ATAVISMA, Fórn, Mutilation Rites, Martyrdöd, Exxxekutioner, Kvlthammer, Dödlägeand and all the Primitive Man splits. I’m looking forward to that Krieg release in September!

    Today is a good day at the ol Toilent Ov Hell. A good day I say!

    • Negrodamus

      Thanks Tyree. Today is a good day on here! Lots or premium content.

      I have to say the album I am most looking forward to this year is Pallbearer’s.

      • Tyree

        I’ll be curious to check that out too. I’m really looking forward to Cretin’s new offering as well. I keep forgetting about it.

    • Gurp

      Wait, new Impetuous Ritual this year? Oh shit!

    • SMOHLG

      That Ad Infiinitum album has got to be the deal of the year. Can’t believe it’s only ‘name your price’

      • Tyree

        I can’t believe it either, crazy. I also can’t believe how more people don’t know who he is.

        • SMOHLG

          I certainly didn’t! Woven Within popped up on ‘Metal bandcamp’ and the rest is history.

    • actiondonkey

      Damn I want to listen to this album as the soundtrack for my next 10k

  • @disqus_4E0xQtrX2p:disqus, dat photoshop!

  • geddy

    All I know at the moment is this: the new song from Rigor Mortis, Flesh For Flies, kills and slays and rules top O’ the day’s playlist!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=txq45D53qVA

    • Xan

      This makes me tingle in all the right places. It may be just me but the singer sounds somewhat like Dave Brockie.

    • crazytaco_12

      Thanks for the post, this is awesome!

  • Howard Dean

    AOTY so far in the Dean-Flair camp:

    Dead Congregation – Promulgation of the Fall

    0/5 flushes! 10/10 Byyyyyyaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhs!

    Monumental soul crushing death metal assault! Total death! Posers leave the hall!

    • Tyree

      Promulgation of the Fall is a flawless death metal record.

      • Xan

        Perfection in it’s truest form.

    • Randall Thor

      Dead Congregation is a “rainy day” band for me. I already know based on what I’ve heard that I’m absolutely going to love the album. When I’m having a super good/bad day and I feel it’s time, I’m going to listen to it and bask in its glory.

  • Mother Shabubu III

    While I love what I’ve heard from this album, I still have to listen to it in full.

    PS: To be the party pooper, I hate Album of the Year/top [x] album of the year lists. It’s music, not a competition. Just say “I loved the following albums in no particular order, and here was my favorite album”.

    • EsusMoose

      I find them helpful to branch out of and look at releases I may over look. I usually take them as what are the arguably best records to give a try if you don’t know the artist. They shouldn’t be taken as fact or have the impression of listing objectively better music

  • Randall Thor

    Excellent write up. I’m listening to this album right now, and so far (please crap on me if you disagree/think I’m wrong), I’m definitely hearing the Gorguts influences from Obscura, as well as MAYBE some Demilich (riffing style). Also, very reminiscent of some Deathspell Omega and Dysrhythmia (Colin Marston did master it, after all). MAYBE even a bit of the Ruins of Beverast (similar atmospheres with the giant cavernous feeling White Flag), although I think that one is a stretch.

    I also wouldn’t say that this is a demanding or strenuous album, this is a joy to listen to for me right now. It has everything I love about modern death metal. They certainly deserve a progressive / avant-garde tag on their MA page. An excellent palate cleanser between all the cheesy power metal I normally consume.

    • Negrodamus

      Thanks! I put the most work into this one of what I have done for ToH so far.

      I definitely pick up vibe or tone elements from DsO, and some of the slower, noisier passages have a “caverncore” feel to them as well. Colin Marston is a tight producer and he is becoming pretty prolific. This Pyrrhon album is very outside the box, I think that is one of the things that is appealing to me about it cause it has these elements where we are like, yeah, kinda sounds like this, but this year I really think it is its own animal.

      • Randall Thor

        The further I get into this album, the futher I believe that this is the lost DSO album between Fas and Paracletus.

  • W.

    Hey man, this is a really, really good write-up. You don’t give yourself enough credit. Also, you know how I feel about this album. There isn’t anything else on the market like it.

  • Owlswald

    I feel like my AOTY overall is yet to come as this fall is set to be monstrous in terms of new albums but if I had to pick a some contenders now they would be Killer be Killed, Fallujah, Conan, Animals as Leaders, Crosses, Destrage, Dust Moth, Voyager, and Behemoth.

    • Xan

      Solid list. I really enjoyed Behemoth’s new album despite the naysayers cries. I had never listened to Behemoth before it so I don’t know how it compares to their other work but I liked every song on it.

      • Owlswald

        I liked their new album much more than any of their previous material. The song writing took a giant leap on this one.

    • SMOHLG

      Always good to see Conan love. It’s their best one yet.

    • Negrodamus

      I also really enjoyed The Satanist. Like Xan, I dunno much about their previous works, but I added it a playlist I made of my best albums so far this year and it might hold up in the top ten by the end of the year.

      • Owlswald

        I think people forget they used to be an awesome black metal band. I still have a couple of their CD’s from that time.

        • Howard Dean

          Pure Evil and Hate! …And The Forest Dreams Eternally is a great record. Black metal Behemoth was pretty solid, although they definitely found their niche in combining that black metal aesthetic with the pummeling onslaught of modern death metal. The Satanist was pretty solid, especially after all of the tumult and the long layoff, but I’m not completely sold yet on Behemoth attempting to tackle the DsO-strain of epic, dissonant, grinding black/death with the accompanying philo-Satanic aesthetic.

      • imho, Behemoth was incorporating more groove & death in their last few albums. hence The Satanist blasting us with a healthy dose of black and flushing our collective butts.

    • crazytaco_12

      Dude, dat AAL was the shit, though the first album’s probably always going to be my favorite of their’s. I have to check out that Conan album, I only have Monnos but I love it.

      • Owlswald

        The AAL album was killer and much better than their last one. That said, a few songs were super annoying. As for Conan, that album is sooooo heavy.

    • Tyree

      That Dust Moth EP is fantastic. I love Irene Barber’s voice.

      • Negrodamus

        That’s another one I lost in the shuffle of life.

  • SMOHLG

    Vainaja and Pallbearer are my early AOTY contenders. So many great albums to choose from this year. Doom:VS, Darkest Era, Nightfell, Panopticon, Thou, Black Anvil, and Emptiness have a chance as well.

    • Xan

      I heartily agree with Pallbearer. Possibly the best modern doom band.

  • Xan

    Sinister, Incantation, Vainaja, Dissolution, Vallenfyre, Dead Congregation, Vanhelgd, Rude, Vader, Autopsy, Vampire, Illdisposed, Corpsessed, Nunslaughter, Massacre, Miasmal, Human Infection, Lay Down Rotten, Sabbatory, Misery Index, Legion of the Damned, and Eluveitie have all tickled my taint in a particularly delightful way this year. I’d have difficulty actually naming an album of the year so far. I’m hedging my bets on Pallbearer’s new album. Pumped so much for that.

    • SMOHLG

      Misery Index. Forgot to mention that one. Lot’s of great tech death/death metal this year, but I would argue that one is the most solid.

    • Negrodamus

      That Vainaja album is so heavy.

    • Howard Dean

      Nunslaughter double-album of supreme devil menace! Byah, lifelovers! Good pick!!

  • SMOHLG

    Negrodamus- awhile back you coined the term ‘weirdo’ metal when talking about Pyrrhon. Immediately after that I made a playlist with Pyrrhon, Portal, Gorguts, and Ulcerate. Naturally, I named it ‘Wierdo.’

    • Negrodamus

      Ha, I still think this is weirdo metal! Sounds like a pretty kick ass playlist. Which Ulcerate and Portal records did you throw on there?

      • SMOHLG

        Vexovoid, Everything is Fire, and Vermis. I still need to get on Destroyers of All.

        • Negrodamus

          Don’t get me wrong, I think Vermis is pretty tight, and I like that style of death metal (the blurry wall of sound style) but I actually preferred The Destroyers Of All from Ulcerate. It’s sharp and epic death metal. It was their first album I have heard, I put Everything Is Fire on a playlist but it got lost in the shuffle still to this day lol

          • Scrimm

            The Destroyers of All is a little better than Vermis.

          • Howard Dean

            And Everything is Fire is a little better than both.

          • Scrimm

            All four albums are great. Everything is fire was my introduction to the band, but it’s been a while. I need to blow the dust of it and give it another spin.

          • Howard Dean

            Of Fracture and Failure is definitely my least favorite of the four. The band hadn’t quite matured or “found their sound” yet, and I don’t really like the vocals (so glad they changed vocalists). However, it was/is a promising debut, and they’ve only expanded and improved from there.

          • Scrimm

            I agree on all points.

          • Negrodamus

            On the first Mammoth Grinder album, Rage And Ruin, they still sound like kids to me, like before they were a fully realized “band”.

          • Oh yeah dude. Like freshmen in college, I think. Which is great because you get songs like “Two More Classes Until Blackout Weekend.”

          • Negrodamus

            That was the last album of theirs that I heard, actually. So it is interesting to see the range of styles they have covered while developing their sound.

    • crazytaco_12

      The first time I heard Voivod, that’s all I could come up with to explain the sound, and to this day I’ll still describe them as a “weird metal” band

    • i love all the bands you just listed

      • SMOHLG

        WE ARE FOREVER CONNECTED #foodalbumfax

  • Behemoth, Triptykon, Aborted, Marty Friedman, Killer Be killed, Misery Index,Vader, Origin, Destrage, Alterbeast, and Pyrrhon all put out really good albums this year IMO

    • i can’t jam to the new Origin. Entity was a masterpiece, as was Antithesis. and i’m sad that i don’t like Omnipresent, i really am!

      • SMOHLG

        I skipped it :-/

    • Negrodamus

      Misery Index was at the top of my queue and it’s another one I still need to sit down and listen to. This year has been so overwhelming! Lol.

      • TrickleDownTacoRiff

        Negro, I picked the new one up about a month ago. The more I listen the more I like it…it really grew on me.

        • Negrodamus

          TDTR!

          I just need to not think about it and listen to it, lol.

      • the new misery index is so good!

    • Also add Artificial Brain- Labyrinth Constellation to my list. And maybe Mastodon- Once More round the Sun

    • LAMENTATIONS OF THE WOMEN

      I went out and bought Triptykon on CD, because I thought it was that good.

      • CyberneticOrganism

        I really like that new Triptykon but I don’t think it’s the AOY contender that everyone made it out to be when it was first released. Excellent, yes, but it’s lacking a little something.

        • LÄMENTÄTIÖNS ÖF THE WÖMEN

          Really? I kinda feel like a lot of the sludge that’s out now is influenced by what TGW has done with that band

    • Thinking about it now, has there been a bad album this year? And if you say wovenwar I will smack you because that isn’t worth of being called metal.

    • Deputy Dipshit

      I’ll throw Aborted, Allegaeon, and Mastodon on there as well..

    • actiondonkey

      I’d also add December Noir to that list along with Triptykon, Allegeon and Agalloch

    • Negrodamus

      Your username is tight lol

  • crazytaco_12

    So far, I’ve been most into the new AAL, Cynic, Blood Farmers, Archspire, Death Grips, Hank 3, Eyehategod, Mastodon, and probably some others I’m forgetting at the moment. Still waiting for the new Anacrusis/Kenn Nardi, At the Gates, and Merciless Death

    • Owlswald

      The new Mastodon is solid. I’m just not sure it will stay in the top 10 after Fall.

    • Kevin Nash and Friends

      Much different than what I’m into. I’m listening to some Bob Marley, the new Weird Al album and a lot of Devo. Perfect music to listen to backstage before a quad tearing match.

      • CONAN THE MOTHERFUCKING KING

        make sure you don’t get ripped off. Judd Blake is selling these fakes on ebay.

        • LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

        • Mr.CustodialArts

          I’m gonna check out the new NACHTMYSTIUM, regardless of how much of a junkie scumfuck he may be. I draw the line at touching kiddies-any other nefarious activities a musician may partake in (racism, theft, stabbing gays, being an Oakland Raiders fan) I can overlook.

          • Negrodamus

            I also want to, at some point, check out the new Nachtmystium. I enjoyed the first Black Meddle album and Silencing Machine was pretty solid, too.

      • Weird Al mention. +1

  • Kevin Nash and Friends

    Make sure to watch TBS tonight, as I have a title defense match against a mystery opponent that Commissioner Bret Hart has hand picked that he hopes will defeat me. Also, there’s a Pay Per View on Sunday and I will be defending my quad tearing title in a fatal fourway against Jeff Jarrett, Sid Vicious and Kurt Angle. Support World Championship Quad Tearing!

  • Kevin Nash and Friends

    I’m Buff, I’m the stuff and the ladies can’t get enough. Also, Kevin Nash is a raging homosexual.

  • KJM

    AOTY 2014(one of)

    Triptykon – Melena Chasmata

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NQsuagpSDtM

    • Negrodamus

      I think this one easily made W’s top ten for the year so far.

  • KJM

    AOTY 2014(one of)

    The Wounded Kings – Consolamentum

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F4VJN5_KU_Y

  • CyberneticOrganism

    Not even sure what to say about this stuff, fucking dense as all hell, very cool

    • Negrodamus

      I’m glad I put something up that you hadn’t heard before!

  • LÄMENTÄTIÖNS ÖF THE WÖMEN

    the BÄSS GÜITÄR in this is KILLER

    • Negrodamus

      … on The Mother Of Virtues?

  • George Clarke

    ooh i like dis one

    • Negrodamus

      Pyrrhon & Death Grips? You, sir, have good taste.

  • Mr.CustodialArts

    These dudes are OBVIOUSLY only into this for the chicks.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cCNMq9qOOkI

    • Negrodamus

      He’s wearing a Meshuggah shirt.

      • Mr.CustodialArts

        The equivalent of a tuxedo with tails at the prom…classy!

  • Ikillu

    I like! Gorguts is my favorite band ever. Artificial Brain is the best new group I have heard in years. This is right up that alley.

    • Negrodamus

      Artificial Brain is another of my favorite records from this year. I’m very interested to hear their next album as well!