Quartz – “Fear No Evil” (High Roller Records)
Although commonly associated with the NWOBHM, Quartz date much further back – in fact, to 1974 when they were known as Bandy Legs! Laugh as you may, in their time they’ve supported Black Sabbath and AC/DC, not to mention their self titled debut being produced by Tony Iommi, with Queen’s Brian May guesting on one of the tracks – and none other than Ozzy Osbourne handling backing vocals! Caught up in the NWOBHM wave, the band played the Reading Festival three times and supported Iron Maiden, Saxon, UFO, Gillan and Rush, releasing 3 albums before disbanding in 1983. Retaining a cult following as well as most of their original line up over the decades, Quartz reformed in 2011 to play a reunion gig and since then have enjoyed a second lease of life both touring on the ‘true metal’ festival circuit and now with a new album 33 years since their last release! Reflecting the heritage of a true British hard rock / heavy metal band, “Fear No Evil” pulls no punches in being exactly that, both in its authentic sound and composing. From the raw, warbling guitars of Mick Hopkins and Geoff Nicholls on the dark proto doom of ‘The Stalker’ completed by David Garner’s Ozzy like vocals, its clear these Brummies have never let go of their roots. With the guitars getting dirtier, there’s also some fine melody to back the catchy chorus on ‘Riot In The City’, complete with some double bass drumming from Malcolm Cope and Nicholls showing his additional talent with some atmospheric keyboards. Turning on the metal, ‘Walking On Holy Water’ really shows what this band can do with its thick guitars n bass contrasting brilliantly with the awesome melody and yet another catchy chorus while the chugging rocker of ‘Dangerous Game’ will get any down n dirty lover doing just that as Garner teasingly sings out the lyrics of ‘…she’s the devils daughter, and you’ve just burned in hell..’ – yeh! For the ‘eavies, the slow banger of ‘Zombie Apocalypse’ should suffice with Derek Arnold’s bass crunching away magnificently, while my personal fave of ‘Dead Man’s World’ reflected some syrup thick riffing straight from Metallica’s book – along with a 70s prog trip passage midway through – totally unreal man! Despite their years away, Quartz impressed me greatly with “Fear No Evil”, worthy of their legacy as veterans with no sell out whatsoever. The band are clearly proud of what they do – but unafraid of the future as the follow up album is currently being recorded – and is exactly what old headbangers like me wanna hear!