"A Black Mile to the Surface" is the fifth full length studio album from Atlanta-based indie rock band Manchester Orchestra. It was released on July 28th 2017 through Loma Vista Recordings.
At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from critics, the album received an average score of 91, based on 8 reviews, indicating "Universal acclaim".
Manchester Orchestra reach new heights on fifth album A Black Mile to the Surface, a powerful, cinematic experience that goes above and beyond what the Atlanta-based band have done before. The group follows up the loud, grimy and grungy Cope with a far more pensive and picturesque endeavour that builds more on their third record, 2011's Simple Math, as well as Cope's acoustic twin sister, Hope — but taken to extraordinary new places.
Black Mile reaches its peak with "The Grocery," slowly rising from calm verses before cresting and crashing like waves in the choruses up until its final epic crescendo. Meanwhile, "The Parts" makes fabulous use of empty space, with Hull sounding like he's quietly baring his soul from within a giant cavern. What may be most laudable here is Black Mile's sonic story arc — a story about love, marriage, fatherhood and life's constant way onward — complete with an introduction, rising action, climax and falling action that finally wind down to a conclusive, satisfying end.
For a band as consistent in the alt-rock realm as Manchester Orchestra, a reinvention like this can be a gamble. There's no song on Black Mile like "Wolves at Night" or "April Fool," the kind of high-energy howler fit for an EA Sports game, but their efforts have paid off with an artistic triumph, the kind worth regarding as a creative masterwork among their collection.
Reviewed by Adam Feibel for exclaim.ca