The following home-shot recordings of cult Italian metal champs Dark Quarterer should serve as a how-to for any bands, young or old, who want to marry metal’s appetite for epic derring-do and mysticism with a resolutely blue collar work ethic and run with it. You see, epic metal just doesn’t magic itself epic after a couple of crude allusions to Greek mythology and Tolkien, with a saucing of battle lore to season the lyrical stew; no, it’s forged through hard labor, big ideas stretched out from its creators’ vision and passion. Epic metal requires practice, and lots of it; if that means getting a sweat on in the garage, shirts off and amps on full, then so be it. This is a results-driven business. Dark Quarterer might always remain triumphantly obscure, sinfully slept on, but looking back, it seems they always got results.
Dark Quarterer were formed in 1978, but their story stretches back to ’72, when bassist/vocalist Gianni Nepi and guitarist Fulberto Serena first started jamming together. Under the name Omega R, they started out playing covers, until 1978, when they changed their name to Dark Quarterer and started working towards obscure anthems such as “Red Hot Gloves”, which sounds like a Faustian Rainbow, and the warped N.W.O.B.H.M. of “Colossus of Argil”. The latter plays out like a lesson in reverb application and recherché song structure, serving as an indicator of the progressive quality that would color Dark Quarterer’s later works.
Dark Quarterer’s radness might be impossible to quantify but it’s imminently identifiable from this footage. Even though the audio is all over the place (the production on the band’s self-titled 1987 debut was similarly raw), the passion translates. But allied to that passion (a prerequisite, you’d think, but not always . . .) is Nepi’s weird vocal phrasing, eccentric enough to distinguish himself from any of his metal peers, coming across like the chimera of some psychedelic Ronnie James Dio. Perhaps the Italian into English translation adds another layer of mystique; but Dark Quarterer’s whole vibe feels like it’s been inspired by Umberto Eco’s most arcane moments. They’ve proved that you can be progressive and epic and yet eschew any need for Hallowe’en swords and neoclassical shred guitar; that you can sound evil and supernatural without overdoing the theatrics; that there is truth in the metal rule that states that bands with an eponymous debut with an eponymous song-title always, always rule.
Dark Quarterer “Red Hot Gloves” rehearsal, 1984
Dark Quarterer “Gates of Hell” rehearsal, 1985
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