Not hiding anymore, not prog, not post-metal and never intended to be an instrumental band, the Hidden Towers have been seething and bubbling like magma under the surface of the Vancouver hard music landscape and are set to erupt with their debut full-length Olympus Mons – so named for a massive volcano on Mars. Smoke plumes shroud and darken the horizon as death looms- the over-arching concept that ties the record together as Chris Cantrell confirms; “We have a song about dying of smoke inhalation; one about being at a loved one’s side while they’re on their death bed; one about Vlad Tepes avenging his fathers death; finding a dead body on an acid trip while you’re camping; death by black hole; and finally rebirth through Mormon baptism.”
Pocked and scarred like the badlands of Alberta, where Cantrell and bandmate Ben Holland hail from, Olympus Mons recalls the dirty, oil-soaked rock of their heroes, The Smalls. Although as Cantrell adds, “I personally find myself being more influenced by things that are complete mysteries to me”. Indeed, although the record calls upon the familiar tropes of metal and hard rock, Hidden Towers break new ground. On Gainsford, AB a monster riff seamlessly plucked from the ’90s gleams like golden sunshine setting above the Rockies , while Comoving Distance takes us on a balearic road trip up north fuelled most likely by some Big Rock brews. And with plans to tour, they’ll be doing plenty of that; “there are cities that we’ve romanticized as being the perfect cities for us to play in, like Minneapolis. I was in New York for CMJ this past October and for some reason I kept being in the company of all of these musicians from Minneapolis and thought they were the raddest people. Prince is from Minneapolis and he’s pretty bad ass.”
And while they might not be directly influenced by Prince, they are certainly similar in their affinity for exploration within a genre. With Olympus Mons, the layers of rock history are exposed- complex beds of strata, sudden intrusions, a seem of dirty coal- making for a fascinating study.
Hidden Towers play the Waldorf on January 10 for their Olympus Mons album release party.
By Sean Orr
Photos: Asia Fairbanks