Hidden Towers - Olympus Mons
Record Label: Defiled Under: Music
Release Date: Jan. 8, 2013
Sometimes a little time off can do wonders. In 2009, Vancouver rock group Hidden Towers formed and met with some early success and critical praise. But other projects and careers pushed the band in different directions and the group went on a three-year hiatus. Reforming in the latter stages of 2012 with a new drummer, the group has released Olympus Mons to the world, and for that we can be very thankful. The seven-song effort is creative, arty and unapologetic. That it also roars and kicks with tenacity and talent makes it all that much more important. Vocalist Chris Cantrell has a timbre that recalls many of the mid 90s grunge-rock purveyors.
Album opener "Smoke Cloud" clocks in at more than six minutes and bends and curves in various directions. At one point the song seems certain to end, but then roars again, before coasting to a halt and then speeding to a finish. All of it is dizzying, inventive and most assuredly charismatic. "Gleaming the Cube," anchors itself to sinewy guitarwork and Cantrell's howling vocals. There's a dusky, 90s grunge sentiment about the entire thing and it works quite well. As much a song about searing guitars and crushing drums as it is a song about message, "Gleaming the Cube," has a wild inventiveness that is hard to overlook. Its successor, "Son of the Dragon," more or less feels like "Gleaming the Cube" redux but finds Cantrell howling like a beast. While it is far from indelible, he is buttressed by slick guitars and crackling drums.
Olympus Mons has been described as a quasi-metal album but "Gainsford, AB (Cup of Blood)," sounds more like sludgy hard rock. That it is arguably the album's weakest song only makes it that much more worth skipping over. Never one to shy away from sonic histrionics, Hidden Towers go for the jugular on "Nobody Knew How High She'd Get," and while the song veers off into unwelcome places it allows itself to pull back and duck under nuanced guitars. That small attention to detail is why Hidden Towers is far from being written off as a slouch. Penultimate closer "Comoving Distance," is a near eight-minute epic that roars and simmers with both ease and electricity. While its not nearly as strong as "Smoke Cloud," or "Son of the Dragon," it definitely has a panache that is worth revisiting.
Olympus Mons' best moment is arguably the six minute closer "Drowning in the Baptismal Front," which packs all of the emotion and ferocity of the previous six songs into one solid mission statement. While Olympus Mons is far from perfect, there's enough on this LP to warrant at least an hour of time. One has the sense that the band's next effort has the potential to shake the foundation of the Canadian rock scene. One listen to Olympus Mons proves that.