A Black Mile to the Surface

Manchester Orchestra - A Black Mile to the Surface
Critic Score
Based on 19 reviews
2017 Ratings: #355 / 887
User Score
Based on 184 ratings
2017 Ratings: #84
Liked by 4 people
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A Black Mile to the Surface digs down into the mineshaft and finds that its deepest veins of gold and diamond were always just the most mundane, simple things.

Alternative Press
One of modern rock’s most consistently great bands just raised the bar again.
The Line of Best Fit

Every aspect of A Black Mile to the Surface is ambitious and rarely, if ever, does it falter.

God Is in the TV
Atlantean indie-rock stalwarts Manchester Orchestra follow up 2014’s COPE with a rebirth of sorts, as singer/lyricist Andy Hull comes to terms with parenthood, which ultimately leaves them sounding very much like Manchester Orchestra, albeit an upgraded version.

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.


Rather than separate any of these disparate sounds this time out, on A Black Mile to the Surface they offer a modicum of all three, shifting from intensely played, post-hardcore-influenced rock to ruminative acoustic balladry and layered soundscapes, often within the same song.

By no means is ‘A Black Mile to the Surface’ stuffed with the hooks, hits and relative immediacy of Manchester Orchestra‘s previous efforts, far from it in fact. Instead, it manages to captivate and surprise without those easy wins, challenging themselves and us, and ultimately coming out victorious.
Drowned in Sound
It’s a new high-water mark for the band, and one well worth the pain to reach.

A Black Mile to the Surface may get knocked for being a downer, an almost self-conscious one. But for all the melodrama, there’s plenty of smart arrangements and well-crafted musical ideas that give the album plenty of gravitas.

It may not be a no-hitter (nothing here is as immediately visceral as, say, “Shake It Off” or as instantly gorgeous as “Simple Math,” perhaps), but the band still looks and sounds strong. There’s no need to send Manchester Orchestra down to the minors yet.
The 405

A Black Mile to the Surface is not ultimately the kind of cohesive and singularly classic album that Manchester Orchestra has shown the ability to create. However, the bold new steps Andy Hull and company take on it seem likely to be the building blocks upon which they build their next classic.


Manchester Orchestra’s new album is their most confounding and thrilling work yet, with the most grandiose narrative concepts, production, and arrangements of their career.

The Guardian
Rather than creating lofty Sigur Rós soundscapes or Trent Reznor-like industrial atmospherics, their fifth LP is full of hearty, outdoorsy Americana. While there are oddball lyrical themes throughout, it orbits a grownup indie rock world.

The band balance loud and quiet better than ever on LP5, with the one-two of ‘The Maze’ and first single ‘The Gold’ that opens the record the perfect example.

A.V. Club

That A Black Mile To The Surface lacks so much personality is both a disappointment and a surprise.

No Ripcord

For a band where constructing songs into rocket-fueled crescendos is their biggest strength, too often does A Black Mile to the Surface fail to take advantage of any momentum it builds, often taking the wrong fork on an ascent to a splendid finale.

I want to make it clear that I wrote all of this an hour ago only for Album Of The Year to log me out and delete it all on me when I tried to upload it. Life is pain.

With me taking a minor break from listening to new albums, and the announcement of their upcoming sixth album, I figured it was about time I went back and redid my review for Manchester Orchestra's fifth release, 'A Black Mile To The Surface', after deleting all of my old reviews earlier this year. The Atlanta indie-rockers have ... read more
The Maze - 10/10
The Gold - 10/10
The Moth - 10/10
Lead, SD - 8/10
The Alien - 9/10
The Sunshine - 8/10
The Grocery - 9/10
The Wolf - 8/10
The Mistake - 9/10
The Parts - 10/10
The Silence - 10/10

Overall Rating: 101 out of 110 = 92%%

Overall Review: This isn't a "hits and singles" album. It's best described as as a journey. An album best consumed in one sitting from start to finish. Many of the songs herald bands like The Dear Hunter who take you on epic adventures in each track and ... read more
In-spite-of-their-name Atlanta-based alternative-rock band Manchester Orchestra produces a fine comeback with the chilling A Black Mile to the Surface. The album's tracklisting, allied with the greyish, gloomy cover artwork, reads like a brooding set of strangely organized bits and pieces consisting of single-word titles that sound as broad and loose as personal and metaphorically-picked by Andy Hull himself. By listening to it, it feels like an even less concise and focused work than it seemed ... read more
Like listening to paint dry!
Only just discovered this band and I must say what a gem of an album.

Love the lyrics, great music, impeccable production.

You should play this loud with the lights off - it will take you somewhere else!
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Added on: June 8, 2017