I think it will help to provide some background notes to
this review. Quartz were part of the Black Country movement (Birmingham and
environs, a.k.a. ‘the birthplace of Heavy Metal’) – a genre-defining location
which spawned bands such as Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin and Judas Priest. The
band got off to a flying start in 1977 but success did not always match
expectations. After a while keyboardist/guitarist Geoff Nichols left to join
Black Sabbath (with whom he would remain for 23
years), the band released a 3rd album
and then split up. Now the band is back in (almost) its original line-up.
So “Too Hot to
Handle” is only the band’s 4th album and the first thing I should
emphasise is that it’s made up of 2 demos recorded over 30 years ago but which
reflect the band’s current formation. One demo contains the entire “Against All
Odds” album of 1983, albeit the songs are all slightly different. Besides, Geoff
Bate was the album’s singer but here we hear his predecessor and current Quartz
vocalist David Garner. The other demo contains 6 tracks seeing the light of day
for the very first time.
A great job has been done in polishing the sound of the
whole product but the quality limitations of a demo are still there. This is
something that also affects the overall mood. For example if you compare
‘Avalon’ with its previous version, in “Too Hot to Handle” it sounds rougher but
lacks some of the melodic touches it had in “Against All Odds”. As far as the
previously unreleased songs are concerned, I quite liked them, especially
the catchy ‘Right
The music is not really Heavy Metal (despite a misleading
artwork) and the AOR/Blues Rock designation would suit it better. For
comparisons’ sake, it has hints of Foreigner,
Samson, early Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin. It’s
doubtlessly a style that reflects the band’s roots.
Back to “Too Hot to Handle”...the songs are well-written with Garner in
particularly good form. But let’s zoom in on the album...‘Tell Me Why’ leans on
the Pop side
of Rock and has quite a catchy chorus. I liked the guitars and melodies in
‘Revelation’ and ‘Silver Wheels’ is one of the album’s most anthemic songs.
‘Right Above Myself’ has a passion and groove that reminds me of Peter
In a way “Too
Hot to Handle” is like a vegetarian dish...healthy and good for you but not as
fulfilling as a well done steak. It has some good songs but quality-wise I don’t
think it compares to Quartz’ debut. Now I’m curious to hear what would
materialise if Quartz prove their mettle with new compositions.