Hidden Towers
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Hidden Towers

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada | INDIE

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada | INDIE
Band Rock Metal

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Jun
21
Hidden Towers @ Palomino Smokehouse & Social Club

Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Apr
06
Hidden Towers @ Comet Tavern

Seattle, Washington, USA

Seattle, Washington, USA

Apr
05
Hidden Towers @ East End

Portland, Oregon, USA

Portland, Oregon, USA

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Vancouver trio Hidden Towers etched their way into the eyes of critics by being the first “heavy” band to win CiTR’s Shindig since 3 Inches of Blood grabbed the title in 2001. What this means I’m not sure, but they did use their winnings to create their first EP Great Conjunctions and have now released Olympus Mons.

This new effort follows the structure of heroic heavy metal without entering into that total cheese-factor state. The songs are detailed, with Chris Cantrell (guitars and vocals), Ben Holland (bass), and Jakub Svoboda (drums) creating melodies that are strong and slightly whimsical at times, with the lyrics never too embarrassingly literal.

Tracks like “Gainsford, AB (Cup of Blood)” and “Comoving Distance” branch into Soundgarden-esque territory, whereas “Gleaming Cube” and “Drowning in the Baptismal Font” play with breaks and space to sound almost romantic.

Olympus Mons offers a wall-of-sound threat that doesn’t pounce on you aggressively, but instead creeps up like a poison to infect your veins and coax you in. - The Georgia Straight


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. - Absolute Punk


Those inventive folks at the File Under Music label have created a new label called Defiled Under Music (haw haw!)...an offshoot label with a more intense focus on loud rock bands. And this is one of the first two albums being released to celebrate the launch of the label. Hidden Towers is a Canadian band playing loud heavy music with an obvious emphasis on chops and arrangements. This seven track album goes all over the place in terms of sounds and styles. The songs have a nasty bite but they're more musical than you might expect from such a loud band. This, the band's first full-length release, presents harsh aggressive tunes that are unpredictable and sometimes intense. Our favorite tracks include "Smoke Cloud," "Son of the Dragon," and "Drowning in the Baptismal Font." - Babysue


Hidden Towers – Olympus Mons

Experts wonder, is there a Truth Embargo on scientific analysis of these Mars photos. Obvious signs of a civilization though the outer compound not appears deserted. Probably designed to accommodate a very tiny species of individuals. The so-called magnetic bacteria. It must have blasted off a billion years ago, only to land in Antarctica, with high chemical purity and residue. New discoveries of ancient seas and rivers have strengthened the evidence. The heart of the mountain. - Toronto Standard


After a two-year hiatus, Vancouver, BC-based Hidden Towers have returned with a driven, grunge-influenced hard rock gem in Olympus Mons. The record is named after the vast shield volcano on Mars that, at 22 kilometres high, is three times as tall as Everest and the largest peak in the solar system. Whatever the energy of the songs on Olympus Mons, each track is clawing in the same direction: up. The pummelling drums strike like a pick or crampon deep into a glacier, and the riffs are forever seeking handholds, snaking inexorably upwards with stubborn muscularity. Album opener "Smoke Cloud" has a determined, rocking rhythm that gets the neck muscles moving, while the guitar solo on "Nobody Knew How High She'd Get" somehow combines a retro-grunge ambience with forward-thinking progressive tendencies. With passion and creativity to spare, Olympus Mons is worth exploring. - Exclaim!


Vancouver group, Hidden Towers, have brought back all the sludgy fury of The Melvins, with a gnarly edge. The album Olympus Mons sees itself furthering a sonic template to epic regions, with songs morphing through various stages of riffage and fury, in search of true heaviness. An awesome album for those curious to the possibilities of metal that haven't fully given themselves over yet.
- Colrado Daily


The inception of Hidden Towers has been over a decade in the making, its founding members enduring incessant lineup changes and obstacles from side obligations delayings its progress.
"I guess I just really believed in what we were doing and had a strong passion towards it and didn't want to see the songs that we were working on go to waste," says Chris Cantrell—who co-founded the group with fellow Alberta expat Ben Holland—of his determination to see the project through, despite consistently having to teach new members the songs as Hidden Towers morphed from a three-piece to a four-piece to a five-piece and finally back to a trio, with drummer Jakub Svoboda rounding out the group.

Now the Vancouver-based band is launching its first full-length LP, Olympus Mons, a disc forged of influences in '90s metal and psychedelic rock. Throughout the thundering disc, which delivers a sonic palette far larger and more diverse than something three people should be able to pull off, is an over-arching theme of exploring the unknown.

"All of the songs except for the last song seemed to deal with death in the subject matter in some way or another, and then the last song, well, I grew up Mormom and it was about being baptized. It's called 'Drowining in a Baptismal Font' and it's about rebirth through Christian pageantry," Cantrell explains with a slight chuckle.

As far as death is concerned, Hidden Towers explores both the hypothetical and real, drawing on past experiences such as Cantrell and Holland stumbling across a dead body outside a campsite outside Gainsford, AB, which became the moniker for the track.

"Some of them come from how I would deal with a hypothetical situation," Cantrell adds. "If you've ever laid awake at night and thought about how you would feel if you lost a loved one or if you lost everything you own in a fire or these really traumatic experiences." - VUE Magazine


A new year brings new CD releases from local acts and new stories from the front lines of the music beat. As the month gets rolling into high gear, here are two things that have been banging around in my head this week.
Hidden Towers Olympus Mons CD Release
Anyone wondering when a followup to the pounding Great Conjunctions EP was due from 2009 CiTR Shindig! winners Hidden Towers need wait no longer. After a turbulent period of transition and membership shake-ups, the power trio of guitarist/vocalist Chris Cantrell, bassist Ben Holland and skin basher Jakub Svoboda has delivered seven intense loud jams on Olympus Mons.
The second release for the group on the File:Under Music label’s louder, raunchier sub-label Defiled Under Music was recorded by Jesse Karr at Rain City Recorders. Production-wise, the album sounds right at home with prevailing trends in hard rock towards a more pure seventies-neo-grunge dirty sound. This is preferable to the pristine pummelling that has characterized so many metal albums of the past decade. At least in my books.
The guitar solo in Nobody Knew How High She’d Get is a prime example of this as retro-vibing character of Olympus Mons. The solo moves from an almost Pink Floyd-esque space jam to a more angular modern progressive rock even tossing in a bit of jazzy action. Gainsford, AB (cup of blood) jumps into entirely different terrain with an over-driven slide guitar riff that a group like Black Oak Arkansas would’ve loved back in the heyday of Southern rock. You even get angular post-hardcore workouts in songs such as the nearly eight minutes-long Comoving Distance. Cantrell switches around his vocal styles to suit the song’s flavour without ever losing power or intensity too. The label likes the idea of comparing them to Soundgarden which I don’t hear on bit. There you go.
Olympus Mons is a fine return to form after a two year hiatus from recording. Coupled with plenty of touring it may well bring the group back into the national spotlight. - The Province


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.”

HiddenTowers-AF-5Pocked 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. - Beatroute


When Hidden Towers took first place at CiTR’s Shindig 2009 competition, it marked the first time since 3 Inches of Blood’s 2001 victory that a band playing heavier music had won the competition.

A look at winners from years past reveals myriad styles, from hip-hop collectives to folk-pop, but it’s undeniable that metal has rarely been well represented in the competition. CiTR music director Luke Meat commented, “Every year the type of hard rock or heavy metal we seem to get at Shindig seems to be your stereotypical Korn or Nickleback knock-offs. Hidden Towers were a pleasant and welcome surprise.” Discorder recently had the chance to sit down with Hidden Towers founder/guitarist Chris Cantrell and discuss the band’s victory, their influences and the future for Hidden Towers’ music—which interestingly may or may not include humanity as we know it.

Amazingly, Hidden Towers almost pulled out of Shindig before it began. Originally a four-piece, their singer dropped out shortly before the start of the competition due to family and work commitments. In fact, Cantrell mentions that the band initially thought of Shindig as an “opportunity to audition for a singer.” Yet as the competition continued and the band advanced, it became apparent to the band—and the audience—that the lack of vocals actually worked in their favour. When asked about the Shindig experience, Cantrell stated, “all of the other bands were very warm and welcoming to us” adding that, “while most of them probably don’t normally listen to heavy metal, the fact that we are an instrumental band allows us to transcend genres a little easier.”

And transcend genres they most certainly do. Hidden Towers have a hypnotic quality to their music that demands repeated listens. For simplicity’s sake, one can label Hidden Towers as heavy metal but fans of math rock, post-rock and even contemporary jazz could claim the band as their own. This is no happy accident; rather, it comes from Cantrell’s own strong musical background (having taken music composition at school in Edmonton) and the wide array of music the band counts as influences (The Mahavishnu Orchestra, King Crimson, Do Make Say Think and traditional Turkish music are just a few that Cantrell mentions). “We’re trying to create what is almost classical or jazz music with metal instrumentation,” Cantrell revealed. Furthermore, the band carries an enviable work ethic—practicing four times a week, three hours each time—that allows them to execute their intricate compositions with stunning precision.

The aforementioned hypnotic quality of Hidden Towers’ music led our conversation into a discussion about another one of Cantrell’s influences—movie soundtracks. “I’m quite interested in creating music for films, it’s something I hope to do in the future.” When it is suggested that Hidden Towers’ music would make a great soundtrack for post-apocalyptic, post-modern films, Cantrell admits that this is, essentially, the idea. For their “Sounds Like” entry on their MySpace page, the band writes, “A nursery rhyme for the rapture” [sic]. Having lived in Vancouver for years now but raised amongst a Prairie-landscape backdrop, Cantrell said, “Growing up in the Prairies—among these beautiful yet almost empty landscapes—influenced the tone of my music a lot.” Refreshingly, even the band’s name has some significance beyond the usual something-we-used-to-call-my-best-friend’s-fat-younger-brother fare. “For me, the name ‘Hidden Towers’ evokes this image of a planet devoid of human life but with traces of our existence” Cantrell said. “It’s the idea of nature reclaiming the Earth. I’d like to think of our music as something that might be the soundtrack to that … a peaceful, healthy planet with hope—not for us, but for itself.”

With their winnings from Shindig—which includes 20 hours recording time from Hive Creative Labs—Hidden Towers are hoping to record a five-song EP in March of this year. One song will feature vocals (“a three-part harmony, Queen-style thing” Cantrell said) which will be a continuing trend on future compositions and releases. Cantrell stated that though Hidden Towers will likely remain a three-piece permanently, they plan to release one “showpiece” vocal track on each of their releases. The next chance to see Hidden Towers live will be Feb. 19 at the Purple Crab (3916 Main). Feel free to either sit there and absorb the depth of their music, or jump around and pump your fist with a group of your friends. Regardless of which camp you fall in, make sure you’re united in applause at the end of it all. Hidden Towers deserve your applause, respect and, most of all, your undivided attention.

-Scott Lyon - Discorder Magazine


Former CiTR Shindig winners Hidden Towers began the night’s show with an inventive deconstruction of metal’s boundaries. Lurching from frenzied polyrhythmic thrashings into jazzier passages, they completely disregarded anything approaching a traditional song structure. It was refreshing to witness a band with such considerable technical ability actually doing something interesting with their skills instead of basking in their own smugness and indulging in unlistenable displays of their own proficiency. - Discorder


Interview With Hidden Towers guitarist, Chris Cantrell

Born and raised in Alberta, Chris became an active member of the BC music scene upon moving to Vancouver in 2005. He has played in the bands Vonnegut Dollhouse and The Unwelcoming Committee, and currently he is the guitarist and composer of Hidden Towers, winner of CITR’s Shindig 2009. Hidden Towers’ sound references many of Chris’ musical influences: metal, post-rock, jazz and world music. Chris studied classical guitar and has trained in jazz composition. He is fortunate to have found mentors in Lester Quitzau and D’Arcy Greaves. In 2010, Hidden Towers released their EP Great Conjunctions.

-What’s in your music collection?

I have an extremely large music collection, so that question can be hard to answer. I have a bit from every genre in my collection. I guess the artists who appear in heavy rotation are the Mahavishnu Orchestra, Mogwai and Neurosis. I have a lot of John Zorn and material from his label,Tzadik Records, in my collection.

-Did the music interest start early?

I started playing guitar when I was eight years old. The interest in music had been apparent at a much earlier age. I used to pretend to be Michael Jackson when I was younger. I have always had the desire to be a performer. My mother and I would dance around the house; I was Michael Jackson and I made her be Cindy Lauper. I would be percussive with household items and turn anything that I could into an instrument. Music has always been my main creative outlet and it has inspired me in every other avenue of creativity that I pursue.

-How do Hidden Towers’ songs emerge?

The songs in Hidden Towers start off as composition. I write everything at home on an acoustic guitar. I bring the finished song to the band and ask them to think about what is unheard; the spaces and notes in between. The original composition then turns into a collaborative puzzle for all of us to solve. So I guess the songs are composed by me but the arrangement of the songs is a collaboration.

-How does one achieve magic in music?

You can’t really force the magic in music. If it’s there, it has always been there. If I have to spend too long on a composition, it probably won’t end up magical. There’s always minor tweeks that need to be done in the arrangement process. The original compositions are inspired by me thinking about the most wonderful or most harrowing situations I might ever have to face and expressing the overall tone of the event through music. An example of this is the song L’Opera Invisible, the feeling came from thinking about having to bury a loved one. If you have found something magical in the music, it’s probably because you’ve had to experience something that the music relates to and forces you to feel like you are a part of it.

-What inspires you?

Life inspires me. The natural and unnatural world inspire me. The unknown inspires me.

-Talk about risk and experimentation.

Any time an artist invites the rest of the world to witness or be a part of their art they’re taking a risk. You risk poor judgement and humiliation. The rest of the world are critics, even other artists. Every time an artist spends his/her own resources on producing art, they are risking the possibility of no gain or return. As far as experimentation goes, I like to introduce foreign and alienating ideas into my craft.

-Are you successful?

I am not making a living from playing music. But I am playing music that I want to play with the people I want to play it with. I am creating with absolute freedom. I can say that I have succeeded in my mission as a musician. To be a successful musician, I think that you must have limitless resources and ideas to draw from; you must have a relentless pursuit of creating; you must have a strong network of supporters; you must be willing to do whatever it takes(ethically) to get to your ideal situation.

-Is the archetype of the “starving artist” true?

Well, I’m not starving now, but there have been times where I didn’t know when my next meal or paycheck would be. I have secured a job for myself in the music industry, helping other artists so that they don’t have to starve. As far as artists having to live with less? I think artists choose to live with less. I think people generally find comfort in the material world. I think that artists create things or ideas that make themselves feel secure or comfortable and cannot be filled by material or ornamental things. I think the material world is a distraction for many artists.

-Is the archetype of the “artistic temperament” true?

That could be. I find myself to be extremely patient. I think that artists become temperamental because they find frustration in needing to be validated and understood by the outside world. They have chosen their method of communicating an idea and not everyone can understand that.

-Who is your community and how do you help each other?

My community is all of the - Vanmusic.ca


Shindig 2009 winners Hidden Towers drew loyal listeners once again for the Music Waste festival at Lick, where they played to a full house. Elements of progressive and post-rock could be heard in wah-wah-tinged, spiky-yet-melodic solos, bright drums in varying tempos, and lilting bass-lines. Compared to the melodic metal of their introductory song, which inspired swaying head bobs and a couple of headbangers, the last song, “Sister,” absorbed the crowd in finger-tapping guitar melodies and eerie, wailing vocals like some lost banshee possessed by longing. Hidden Towers captivated the Music Waste audience with complex and intricate music that defied categorization. They will appeal to rock music lovers who like an intense, haunting sound. - Port City Lights


Review by Jenny Charlesworth

Great Conjunctions (Independent)

Great Conjunctions is a gentle little indie-rock EP for all of seven seconds. Go past that marker and you quickly realize that what Vancouver’s Hidden Towers has in store is much more brutal. Sure, the 2009 winner of CiTR’s Shindig competition knows its way around a melody, but only when it’s heading into a harsh, thunderous jam augmented by snarling devil-got-your-soul vocals, as is the case on the record’s title track. As far as tumultuous stoner-metal soundscapes go, this band, which recently became a quartet with the addition of a second guitarist, has the local market on lockdown. Skeptics need only listen to the tortured closer, “Ghost of Love”, before bowing down to Hidden Towers.

Citing bad boys like Isis, Mastodon, and Pelican as inspiration, the outfit is brutally proficient in the heavy-music genre. Grunge-y guitar riffs and pummelling rhythms hold listeners captive until the feedback fades and the disc stops spinning. Lyrics may be sparse (a cruel blow to those who love to scream along), but the group gets its message across all the same, with raw instrumental fury.

- the Straight



Noisemakers get heard
Hidden Towers' driving style takes prize
By Stuart Derdeyn, The Province July 28, 2010 While it boasts arguably the most dedicated fans of any genre and a scene that seems to defy the music industry's roller-coaster ride of late, heavy music can't get the respect it deserves. From the Polaris to the Mercury Prize and beyond, prissy indie rockers or sensitive singer/songwriters reap rewards.

The noisemakers reap gallons of sweat and frequent pulled muscles from headbanging. 'Tis a rare thing indeed to find a heavy act taking any battle of the bands contest, let alone one such as CiTR's Shindig.

But that's exactly what happened when Hidden Towers became the first group that favours everything louder than everything else to collect the first prize since 3 Inches of Blood took it in 2001.

That the group composed of ex-Vonnegut Dollhouse guitarist and singer Chris Cantrell, bassist Ben Holland and ex-Carpe Diem drummer Sean Bradey actually entered the contest as a four piece with a singer is one thing.

But then they had to turn -- more or less -- into an instrumental unit due to a parting of ways with the vocalist on the eve of the first performances in Shindig! However, it went over so well that the band stayed the course with nary a vocal to be heard on its four-song, digital-only EP, Great Conjunctions.

"Ben and I played have known each other a very long time and had played together before in the Unwelcoming Committee," says Cantrell. "We went through a lot of drummers before Sean tried out and it was a really good fit. Same with singers.

"We entered with a singer who just didn't work out and we had to kind of improvise for the first show.

"But it worked so well that we stuck to it."

It makes sense, considering that Cantrell and Holland had both been interested in putting something together for many years.

With the disbanding of Vonnegut Dollhouse freeing the guitarist from any obligations, the two were perfectly positioned to finally go for it and play something that really suited their preferences.

When required, Cantrell howls out a few verses. But mostly the group builds layers upon layers of driving rock that it likens to such purveyors of the style as the late band Isis, Mastodon, Pelican and perennial college kid faves Mogwai. There's a bit of Tool-ishness about it all as well. Curiously, Cantrell keeps his gear to a minimum, preferring to use technique over technology to create the layer of feedback-drenched sound.

"I've really only got a distortion pedal, volume and a delay. I like the guitar to speak for itself."

For such a newly arrived crew, the trio, formed in spring of '09, has certainly made inroads into the local scene quickly. It played NXNE in Toronto in June and is readying to see how the digital-only iTunes release catches on.

HIDDEN TOWERS


Read more: http://www.theprovince.com/entertainment/Noisemakers+heard/3330910/story.html#ixzz16BJUdPov - The Province


Discography

Great Conjunctions EP - (independent) 2010
Olympus Mons - (Defiled Under Music) Jan 8, 2013

Photos

Bio

Hidden Towers has been a maturing idea for over a decade. It would get dabbled with off and on in between more active projects and careers, but had never been given the full chance to be; until now. 2012 marks the most defined and static incantation of the group and a full-length album on the horizon.

Founding member and guitarist, Chris Cantrell, has put aside this year to record the album he always wanted to hear the band produce and to enlist the lineup he always wanted to see the band become. With the powerful and articulate rhythm section of Ben Holland on bass and Jakub Svoboda on drums, Hidden Towers has finally come to full fruition.

Taking largely from bigger than life classic metal, 70's jazz fusion and space rock, Hidden Towers have turned their stripped down lineup into an evolved spectrum of sound.

In 2010, Hidden Towers won CITR radio's Shindig competition; making them the first heavy band to win the competition since 3 Inches Of Blood in 2001. From their prizes came Hidden Towers' first EP, Great Conjunction and showcases for the band at NXNE in 2010.

Following a modicum of successes, Hidden Towers was put on hiatus due to incessant line-up changes, Chris's career at the record label File Under Music and his new metal/punk imprint to File Under Music - aptly titled Defiled Under Music.

Set for release through Defiled Under Music in January 2013, Olympus Mons - recorded by Jesse Karr at Rain City Recorders - will be the first full-length release by Hidden Towers: "a band that deserves your applause, respect and, most of all, your undivided attention" - Scott Lyon, Discorder Magazine.