(Photo Credit: Shervin Lainez)
Advance Review - Manchester Orchestra: The Million Masks Of God (April 30, 2021)
Manchester Orchestra has once again penned a euphoric and stunningly heartbreaking album the likes of which rock music has never seen or heard before. From start to finish, The Million Masks of God is a roller coaster of emotions, dragging you through a softly ecclesiastical storyline rife with grief, guilt, loss, pain, recovery, forgiveness, and triumph. Start to finish is exactly how they intended you to listen to it. I implore you, no pausing, no skipping, just let this record spin and feel this storyline unfold around you, let it feed your soul.
The Million Masks of God is music for people who lay awake at night wondering what happens when we die. It gives no answers, and doesn't provide complete comfort, but rather solace that it's bothering someone else too. It’s been a long time since an album knocked the wind out of me the way this one did. It’s classic Manchester Orchestra with its mix of heavy and soft, and its experimental instrumentation, but it’s unlike any album they’ve released before. The lyrics feel like they were poured forth straight from singer Andy Hull’s soul. The first song on the album to stop me in my tracks was Angel of Death. It’s dirty, gritty, full of loss and sin and, most of all, hope. “I’m ashamed, lost my decree, it paid to lose / The first of sixty thousand hours obsessed with you / It wasn’t a lie, but it wasn’t the truth / I tried blaming me, ended up blaming you.” I think Angel of Death touched me so much because I’ve felt the anger of the universe, and I’ve screamed “why?” and “who?” until my throat was sore just to get no answer, and i felt alone in that.
“Keel Timing” and “Bedhead,” the two singles released over the past couple months, are a perfect example of why this album should be listened to unbroken and uninterrupted. The songs perfectly flow into each other, both high energy and building in intensity, establishing themselves as powerful rock anthems. They are a perfect taste of the album to come. “Bed Head'' especially struck me with its repeated use of “oh my god” which could both be a prayer or a cry for something to finally give way. “Right by the entrance you broke, finally reality’s taking its hold / You’re not who you were, but you can’t let it go / You’re not where you’re from, but you’re always alone / So I stick a flag in the ground, I think I know who I’m living for now / I am what I am, same above as the ground / It’s not what I want, but I’m figuring it out” Hull can’t get the words out anymore forcefully. I just got goosebumps.
I’ll say again that I thoroughly enjoyed the album from start to finish. Each song resonated with me in a different way and I felt changed upon listening to the entire album. “Telepath” moved me to tears with its melancholy depiction of what it’s like to be unsure in life and love. I honestly can’t tell if “Obstacle” is about a dog or a person, but it’s most definitely about finding home in something that needs fixing, and sometimes that shelter is yourself. Each song so expertly touches on heartache, loss, pain, anger, and the ways we choose to let it affect us or just let it go. “Let It Storm” sums it up well when i says “When the guilts got you strapped to your bed / Gnashing teeth while you bargain your debt / You just can’t get it out of your head / Call it holy.”
The Million Masks of God is out on April 30 via Loma Vista. Buckle up for the most cathartic album I’ve heard this year.
Rating - 5/5