at John Dee, Oslo, Norway, April 2, 2005

Apparently out of nowhere Stonegard releases Arrows, the debut album of the year, and treats their home country Norway with heavy-duty killer Rock wherever they may roam with their Metal party packed live set.

Their live set might be short, hardly an hour, but what can an audience expect when a debuting band’s album is only 35 minutes long? Do you want them to transform into a cover band for the occasion? (If that were the case, some Metallica and Pantera tunes would have fit the set …) However, even though Stonegard’s gig did not stretch out in length, their material, on the other hand, carries the quality of being very heavy, very well played, and their compositions all are all stunning.

The success of Arrows benefits a lot from its remarkably cool studio sound. However, the magic of the album production is something that’s hard for the band to revive live. Luckily enough, the songs by themselves are all huge, both melody-wise and in their arrangements, which front man Torgrim Torve & Co did not fail to convey in an energetic and enthusiastic way.

From Erlend Gjerde’s intense beating of the skins backing up Torve’s big, fat grin in the front, there was no doubt: Stonegard tried to convince everybody they were worthy of living up to the expectations of the crowd, and the quartet was loving the challenge.

Highlights like “Hunter,” “Triggerfinger,” “Darkest Hour” (a stunning stoner song), “Barricades,” and the encore “At Arms Length” were all killer Hard Rock numbers that would have made Metallica green with envy. Unfortunately, neither Metallica nor any of Stonegard’s other foreign inspirational sources will ever get to know this band. True to traditions, there’s no one in Norwegian music industry willing to risk their marketing money on an international launch of this band like Stonegard, which is a crying shame, because right now Stonegard is probably the best new act Norway has to offer the global Metal scene.


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