With its epic dramatic arc, Manchester Orchestra's sixth album is a cinematic experience exploring themes of birth, death, and what lies beyond. Recorded in the wake of guitarist Robert McDowell's father's death from cancer, The Million Masks of God finds the group further building upon the conceptual approach they championed on 2017's A Black Mile to the Surface. Since debuting with 2006's I'm Like a Virgin Losing a Child, Manchester Orchestra have expanded their muscular post-hardcore sound, weaving in acoustic guitars, strings, and some electronic elements. Million Masks continues this maturation with a sound that weaves together warm vocal harmonies and extended prog rock arrangements. Helping them achieve this nuanced aesthetic is producer Catherine Marks (Foals, Wolf Alice), with whom they recorded Black Mile. They also worked with producer Ethan Gruska (Phoebe Bridgers, Perfume Genius), who added keyboard, guitar, and percussion. Once again at the core of the band's sound is lead singer and songwriter Andy Hull, whose rich tenor grounds all of their anthemic, deeply emotive songs. His soaring style is particularly suited to the group's increasingly conceptual, character- and story-driven material. There's a feeling on Million Masks that the band are pushing themselves to move beyond the more traditional aspects of their rock sound, stretching their melodic and lyrical ideas. There's also an unexpected flow to the album, with the more robust, high-energy tracks appearing earlier and the more subdued, introspective ones coming later; all of which beautifully reflects the ebb and flow of life. The Million Masks of God captures this flow, taking you on a theatrical journey that's often as moving and poignant as it is aurally engaging.
Million Masks of God Review
by Matt Collar