QUARTZ - “On the Edge of No Tomorrow”

By Dark Starr

This is a new album from a band that was a part of the NWOBHM movement, or more accurately was caught up in that movement despite pre-dating it. This disc has some special significance because it contains the final performances of keyboardist Geoff Nicholls (both on keys and vocals) who was a long-serving keys-man with BLACK SABBATH. A further SABBATH connection comes with a guest vocal performance on one track by Tony Martin. This is a varied, if a bit uneven, album that works pretty well from start to finish.

A mean and meaty riff brings the opening stomper "Freak Of Nature" (and the album) into being. It is old-school metal with a raw edge. I love the guitar soloing on the song, and the lusher movement is classy. Nicholls provides not only keyboards, but also vocals. "Death Or Glory" is a stronger cut than the opener was. The vocals are better, and the tune rocks with so much style. I really love the expressive guitar soloing on this song.

Coming in meaty and mean, "They Do Magic" is screaming hot. It has some great hooks and really rocks. There is a SABBATH meets RAINBOW kind of vibe to "Master Of The Rainbow" to some degree. Of course, the lyrics were written by Nicholls as a tribute to Ronnie James Dio, so that makes sense. The cut just seems to gel really well. It's a highlight of the album for sure. It's the best track to this point, too.

"Night Of The Living Dead" is next, and I really love this scorcher, too. It's got some killer riffing, and it really rocks. A dramatic metal ballad approach is on the menu as "Evil Lies" gets underway. It's very strong and provides some real variety. The tune fires out after a while into some killer riff driven metal. It is one of my favorite tunes on the disc. It definitely has some BLACK SABBATH (Tony Martin era) vibes to it. Of course, that makes sense because Tony Martin guests here, providing the lead vocals.

A driving metal tune, "Angels At The Crossroad" is a real stomper It's particularly strong and has some cool twists and turns built into it. Back into a more raw zone, the vocals on "Keep Up The Fight" make me think of DOA. Those vocals (and the keyboards on the tune) are again by Nicholls. The song is a bit more of a rock and roller versus a metal tune. Still, there is plenty of crunch here, and the defiant lyrics work well.

Drums lead "Brainwashed" in, and the bass joins after a time. Eventually guitar riffing comes over the top to move the song forward. There are some parts of the song that seem to falter a little, but overall it's an anthemic metal tune. It has some killer guitar soloing. The chorus on "Babylon Is Burning" is particularly effective. The song is another raw and potent metallic stomper. That said, the mellower break is so classy and really elevates it. Somehow that part makes me think of OZZY OSBOURNE's solo career just a little. There is a tasty and expressive guitar solo that comes over the top of that section. Somehow I can even make out some hints of jazz on that part of the track. As it comes out of that a decidedly SABBATH-like riff takes over. That brings us into the fairly short closing movement.

The riff that opens "What Love Is" is meaty and tasty. The cut makes me think of BLUE OYSTER CULT to some degree. The track is solid, but not a standout. I love the SABBATH-like grind that starts "Dirty Disease." The raw rocker earns a bit of a parental advisory on the lyrics. I like the chorus hook on the tune. I love the main riff so much, too.

Pounding in for an introduction, and then dropping down for the first vocal movement, "World Of Illusion" sounds so much like vintage BLACK SABBATH that it's scary. It has a great balance between the harder rocking and mellower movements. It's one of the highlights of the disc for me. Then again, I'm a SABBATH fanatic, so it's to be expected. The jam later in the track brings a different angle to the piece. It's still quite SABBATH-like with the exception of the guitar solo. "Highway To Madness" ends the disc, and Nicholls is back providing just vocals on the track. A driving metal concept is at the heart of it as it gets underway. While not a big change or revelation, it is is an effective tune that brings something special to the proceedings.