Quartz - Fear No EvilAs a metalhead, Birmingham is a city very close to my heart. Sometime in the late ‘60s, a little-known band from the northern neighborhood of Aston started playing the pub circuit and gradually established a sound that would go on to change the face of music forever. They went by the name Black Sabbath. Over the years the city has been the source of a plethora of notable acts, including Judas Priest, Napalm Death, and Godflesh to name but a few, however, it will always be Sabbath who cemented Brum’s reputation as the spiritual home of all things heavy. Also founded in the city in the early days of the NWoBHM movement, Quartz are a band who played a prominent role in the formative years of Birmingham’s metal scene too (mainstay keyboardist Geoff Nicholls actually played as a session musician for Sabbath for over two decades). The band split in 1983 however, only going on to reform in 2011, and as such, they are not nearly as well-known as some of their more distinguished peers. Fear No Evil will be their first full-length studio album in almost a quarter of a century, so its October 28th release date is set to be a significant day not just for the band themselves, but for the wider Birmingham music scene as a whole.

Stylistically Quartz play traditional heavy metal in the vein of Judas Priest and Saxon, and Fear No Evil has a distinctively old school flavor. Everything about it, from the chord progressions and melodies to the warm, uncomplicated production sounds as though it was pulled straight from the early ‘80s, lending it a reassuringly authentic quality, and first impressions are positive. Eponymous opener “Fear No Evil” gets things off to a strong start, showcasing solid riffs, tight musicianship and a catchy chorus that wouldn’t sound out of place in the midst of Stained Class or Screaming for Vengeance. This is swiftly followed up by “Rock Bottom,” which has precisely the kind of sass and swagger that made Wheels of Steel so damn infectious. Two songs in and Quartz sound like a band that has never missed a single practice session, let alone 28 years’ worth of them.

Despite its impressive start, however, Fear No Evil turns out to be a bit hit and miss — enjoyable but peppered with little inconsistencies. Quartz are at their best when they’re playing fast and hard, as exemplified by the likes of “Dangerous Game” and “Born to Rock the Nation,” not to mention the two aforementioned openers. Despite this, however, they embark upon numerous attempts to rein themselves in and slow things down, and it doesn’t take long for this to begin to grate a little. Slower tracks such as “The Stalker” and “Zombie Resurrection” feel pedestrian when compared with Quartz’s more energetic offerings — the latter being salvaged by a rather tasty closing guitar solo, however. The effect this has is that when enjoying the album’s highlights, there’s always the nagging feeling that weaker material may be just around the corner, and it’s a difficult sensation to fully shake off. Flipped into a “glass half full” perspective, however, what this also means is that the record never becomes too bogged down by its weaker tracks before things begin to perk up again. It makes for an erratic listen, but this is not a terminal issue.

Quartz 2016

Production is unflashy but perfectly suited to the style of music nonetheless, with good depth to the sound and all of the instruments well-balanced and crisp, and this goes some way to saving the weaker tracks. A feeling of authenticity, or lack thereof, can make or break traditional heavy metal records, and in this respect, Quartz hit the nail on the head with ease.

Fear No Evil is undoubtedly a mixed package. While the quality of the material is variable, as a complete production it’s an entertaining, modern spin on a traditional sound, and a fine homage to an iconic era in metal’s history. While there are undeniably a few songs that won’t leave much of a lasting impression, it has more positives than negatives, and if you’re just after a good old-fashioned, shit-kicking rock ‘n’ roll record to sink a few beers and play air guitar to, then Fear No Evil won’t steer you too far wrong.

Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 10 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: High Roller Records
Website: facebook.com/quartzbackintheband
Releases Worldwide: October 28th, 2016

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  • Hammersmith

    The guy second from the right looks like he was on his way to the grocery store after watching his grandson’s little league game.

    • Lord Lucan

      “Who’s Jimmy? What little league game? Where am I?”

      • Hammersmith

        You kids taking one of those new fangled “pictures” I keep hearing about?

    • basenjibrian

      Have to admit I am closer in age to Grandpa Metal than many posters here, but still LOL.

    • Nag Dammit

      Best band photo I’ve seen in a long time. Just 5 old guys out to RAWK!

  • Diego Molero

    This was a really great written review, but I don’t think I’ll bother with the album to be honest. Nevertheless, good job my Lord!

  • The Deplorable Nerd.

    So we have 3 Doctors, A Gorilla, A Greek titan and now a Lord writing for AMG. This was a very well written review Lord Lucan.

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      Not just any Lord but a hard drinking, fortune squandering on gambling, wife murdering and then disappearing Lord.

      • The Deplorable Nerd.

        And now he has reappeared. And he’s writing Metal reviews

        • Lord Lucan

          I needed something to pass the time with. There’s fuck all to do in the Ecuadorian embassy nowadays and Assange is beginning to get on my tits.

        • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

          From the grave!

    • [not a Dr]

      Aren’t all Titans Greek?

      • The Deplorable Nerd.

        No a couple are in Tennessee

  • The only reason I, years ago, looked up Quartz’ first album is the bass line in Mainline Riders, which very much *inspired* Black Sabbath when they wrote Heaven and Hell. The Quartz album turned out to be surprisingly good, also a mix of fast(ish) and slow songs actually, so I’m curious to hear this record.

  • Eldritch Elitist

    I don’t understand what’s happening with the album cover.

    • mindbleach

      It’s an accurate depiction of the average saturday night out in Ludlow

      • Lord Lucan

        I heard it was based on the events of the day the two high schools in Bromsgrove held their end of Sixth Form fancy dress pub crawls on the same day. Years on and the town is still scarred.

    • dduuurrrr dddduuuurrrr

      It’s the metal equivalent of Lost.

  • Reese Burns

    Look at that band photo. It’s impossible not to root for these guys!

  • André Snyde Lopes

    Liar liar, pants on fire…

  • Charles Anderson

    dug this release.

    Also the new Deathspell Omega is streaming on their bandcamp so

  • Scourge

    Me: Where’s the embedded track?

    Quartz: Speak up kiddo! In bed? Who’s in bed?

    Me: I’m 43… I mean a promo track. Do you have a bandcamp page?

    Quartz: Bandcamp!? This ain’t high school sonny boy!

    Me: What about YouTube?

    Quartz: Back in my day artificial insemination meant your girlfriend cheated with the lead singer!

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    Nice to see these guys still around!

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    Birmingham is likely the most Metal city in the world.

    • GardensTale

      More than Gothenburg? I think a battle is afoot

      • Lord Lucan

        Musically speaking, without Birmingham there would be no Gothenburg. You owe us everything maaan!

      • defjam

        Birmingham undoubtedly due to the number of genres spawned there and the longevity of those bands (Led Zeppelin were half Brummies as well)

      • Lord Lucan

        Certainly. Musically speaking, without Birmingham there would be no Gothenburg; at least not as we know it anyway.

      • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

        Birmingham brings Black Sabbath, Judas Priest and Napalm Death to that battle. Gothemburg bring In Flamas, At The Gates and Dark Tranquillity. Gothemburg is razed to the ground by Iron Man, Neon Knights, Painkiller and Greed Killings.

    • Lord Lucan

      The aforementioned Brum worship was admittedly a shameless plug for my hometown so it’s nice to have some third party validation. Thank you good sir.

  • Zach Ward

    The fellow in the fedora looks like he’s tryin to solve a case in that one game LA Noire.. Weird album art.