It is in the heart, it is in the blood, it's in the story
Manchester Orchestra's sixth full-length offering glistens. It's a monumental semi-concept album that works brilliantly because Andy Hull was made for the limelight. The album is epic in posture, yet sincere and relatable - a poignant magnum opus. If you've been following Manchester Orchestra for any significant length of time, then you know this is the standard praise that they always get.
Impressively, The Million Masks of God feels much the same, successfully expanding further still on the huge ambition and the cinematic scope introduced by its predecessor. It's not just aesthetically that the two can be compared either. While Black Mile sought to explore the journey from life to death, Masks takes it one step further, looking at what happens from "birth and beyond".
Manchester Orchestra began a new era of their career with 2017's A Black Mile to the Surface. It was an atmospheric, cinematic work that recast the grungy, pop-compatible Atlanta alt-rockers as pensive storytellers whose music could reach profound depths and triumphant heights. That has now proven to be not an ambitious, outlying experiment, but the new template for Manchester Orchestra records going forward.
Manchester Orchestra have always been one of those bands, to me, that you just sit back and wait on. It doesn't matter what tracks are released up front, what videos are out, what interviews say -- the records speak for themselves. It's something that I stick to for not too many bands (Thursday, Jimmy Eat World come to mind), because I usually want to temper my expectations.