In the metal realm, Norway has had a reputation for being a hotbed of black metal and death metal in the '90s and 2000s; the list of black metal and death metal bands that have come from Sweden's neighbor is an incredibly long one. But not every Norwegian metal band that comes along is part of the those particular scenes; a good example is Stonegard, whose debut album, Arrows, looks to different eras for inspiration. Arrows is best described as alternative metal, but this 35-minute CD is hardly oblivious to metal that came before the '90s. Stonegard's alt-metal draws on influences that range from grunge to doom metal/stoner rock to thrash to '70s metal; one hears a lot of Ozzy Osbourne-era Black Sabbath in their sound, but one also hears elements of bands ranging from Metallica to Orange Goblin to Alice in Chains and Nirvana (the vocals have plenty of Kurt Cobain-ish angst). There is even some Uriah Heep in their '70s, '80s, '90s, and 2000s equation. Arrows rocks loudly and forcefully, although Stonegard maintains a strong sense of melody -- and without a doubt, this outfit has a very attractive sound. The thing Arrows lacks is truly great songs; the material is generally competent, although it isn't terribly memorable. Stonegard's sound is something to be proud of, but they don't have the hooks to back it up -- not yet, anyway. Nonetheless, one hears a lot of potential on Arrows, and this noteworthy but inconsistent effort indicates that Stonegard is well worth keeping an eye on.
AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson