quartz-fear-no-evil-lp-blackOne of the things to be genuinely treasured about the NWOBHM is the number of bands that have soldiered (pun intended) on or quietly slipped out of retirement now the kids have grown up. It’s both a sobering reminder that there never was any money in this game unless you were one of the chosen handful (Maiden, Priest (who well predated the NWOBHM anyway), Saxon, Def Leppard and er….?), and heart-warming confirmation that they just want to play what they play.

So here are Quartz, back and pretty much their full line up too. They have a long and interesting history behind them (check out the link below) and maybe best known for ‘Satan’s Serenade’ and the Brum/Black Sabbath connections. However let’s concentrate on the ‘now’ and whether anyone other than old fans should care.

We’ll the title track first up is actually a really good classy bit of NWOBHM, a nice slow burner with a clear production. Second track ‘Rock Bottom’ is a right old bouncing earworm of a song too with lyrics straight out of the 80s in a good way. It’s only when we reach slow, rather dreary song ‘The Stalker’ that the old reservations creep back in.

Ok, it’s hold my hands up time; I was never a Quartz fan back in the day, I guess I cut my teeth on Saracen, Diamond Head, Dark Star, Geddes Axe and Trespass. But that doesn’t mean I disliked Quartz who I was very aware of, just not overly excited by them. There was, and is, nothing wrong with the band other than too many of the songs never hooked me. Sadly it’s too often the same here. For every fine ‘Dangerous Game’ with its classic urgent riff, there’s a ‘Zombie Resurrection’ with more Black Sabbath lyrical references than you can shake a stick at and overly strained vocals and a ‘Walking On Holy Water’ which starts off a dead-ringer for the quiet parts of ‘Falling Off The Edge Of The World’ and bounces unceremoniously into something more US party styled and jarring. When it’s good, like on the smoothly catchy ‘Riot In The City’, it really is very good. When it isn’t (‘Dead Men’s World’) I just feel unengaged rather than it being bad. Oddly it seems to be the slower songs that are the main offenders.

Yeah, a bit of a mixed bag I’m afraid: It’s nice to see them back and doing what they want to do, and those first two songs promise much. It’s just too often the rest of the album doesn’t entirely deliver on that start for me, sorry. On the other hand it’s far from being bad and still worth a look. Maybe grab a beer, reminisce with your mates and see how it grabs you.

(5.5/10 Gizmo)