“Once you get involved in music, it's forever in your blood,” says original Quartz guitarist Mick Hopkins. Birmingham-based Quartz are widely regarded as one of the most enduring outfits of the glorious New Wave Of British Heavy Metal. This is not entirely true, as the band actually pre-dates the movement by several years (with Bandylegs, direct forerunner of Quartz, having been formed in 1973!). During their heydays in the 70s and 80s, Quartz released three studio albums: the self-titled debut in 1977 (Jet Records), »Stand Up And Fight« (MCA) at the peak of the NWOBHM movement in 1980 and finally the more commercial/AOR sounding »Against All Odds« (Heavy Metal Records) in 1983.
So is it really a big surprise that Quartz are back together again (with new singer David Garner) hitting the scene with a brand new studio album entitled »Fear No Evil«? Mick Hopkins doesn’t think so: “Not surprised really! Once we reformed, everybody was keen to record again,although with very limited resources. We started playing together again back in 2011, for a cancer charity. We had a good audience reaction and went on to do gigs in Germany and Sweden and had the same thing happen, so we just had to record again!”
“»Fear No Evil« has been around with us for a while,” adds the guitarist. “It’s just a straight heavy metal rock album, delivered with enthusiasm. It was recorded in David's studio (in his house), and produced by Quartz.” As with the last Quartz album, 1983’s »Against All Odds«, the new record does also feature keyboards (according to Mick “to give the songs a ‘moody ambience’”) but all in all it’s a much heavier (and better) album than its predecessor from 33 years back: “»Against All Odds« we recorded with two new members, Geoff Bate and Steve Mcloughlin, both great musicians, but at the time we were having problems with studios, and that's why we called the album »Against All Odds«.The album was also recorded in a different time slot as we were going through the personnel changes, remodelling the music trying to appeal to a wider audience, so we could make a living.”
For »Fear No Evil« Quartz have hired a new singer; David Garner has been with the band since 2011 and he does a great job. Mick Hopkins shares my view: “We must agree with you, a great singer and showman. David is a great asset to the band, quite a character, but also a pain in the arse (like a lot of singers) and knows his job, a welcome member. It is hard to describe him in comparison to our former vocalists Mick Taylor and Geoff Bate, all three are very good in their own special ways.”
The title track "Fear No Evil" is a superb, very haunting metal song, pretty much in the "typical" (early) Quartz style. Mick Hopkins agrees: “Yes , well, that was the idea, to link it with early Quartz material like ‘Satan's Serenade’.” The main riff of "Zombie Resurrection" sounds very much like Sabbath around »Born Again« times. “Geoff had a vision of what might happen in the future (also could possibly be in a zombie film),” is how Mick explains this excellent number.
All in all, »Fear No Evil« is a mighty fine album, and it’s quite timeless as well. “Born To Rock”, which has already appeared on the Quartz anthology record, is one of the catchiest songs on the new album. According to Quartz’s guitarist, there is a little story to it: “David asked whether he could do his version, so we re recorded it. It just relates to the early days of our band, trying to make it in music.”
"Riot In The City" is another brilliant number, starting with the sound of a police siren. “It has been written about world events,” states Mick Hopkins. ”It started with riots in our hometown, Birmingham, then London, then the chaos around the world.”
"Walking On Holy Water" might be called a semi-ballad. One of the more quiet tunes on »Fear No Evil« described by Mick as “an apocalyptic song”: “’Walking On Holy Water’ is about acid rain from an atomic weapon, hence: apocalyptic.”
It may have taken Quartz 33 long years to come up with the successor to the ill-fated »Against All Odds« record, but »Fear No Evil« was definitely worth the wait. A bona fide, timeless NWOBHM album – performed by outstanding musicians.