What a pleasant surprise: three weeks ago I didn’t even know Stonegard by name, now I find myself listening to their second album “From Dusk Til Doom” for the maybe 20th time and still it grows on me and shares new perspectives with each and every listening experience. Not because it’s extremely progressive or individual in the sense of “totally of the hook”, but because it speaks – or better: roars, screams, thrashes – so consequently for itself: every note on this albums is played with obvious conviction, juvenile power and passion. To make it short: this music kicks your ass!
Style-wise the band crosses the borders between powerful melodic metal in the traditional Scandinavian vain – some of the epic vocal arrangements, for example in “Helios, Cursed” even remind me of Memory Garden –, modern thrash metal and a healthy dose of heavy alternative rock. Contributed by all of the four band members, the incredibly strong, mostly clean vocals surprise in their variety and emotional depth and they make “From Dusk Til Doom” stick out of the many metal releases of these days – where other bands sound like uninspired copycats and fail to present an individual approach, Stonegard stand on the solid ground of their own highly energetic sound. This has been produced by some rather famous folk with new metal backgrounds if I’m not completely mistaken, and I would even tend to say that some of the songs have despite their groovy heaviness a slight pop-appeal; no easy-listening bullshit, but strong hooklines. With “Morpheon”, the quartet delivers a hit single with a refrain of its own and without reinventing the genres, Stonegard proves that there’s still open space for new visions within the established frames of metal music.
I just saw that this album reached #38 (from 58 albums) in the topical soundcheck of a great printed metal magazine, which is but a bad joke to me since this result reflects the Zeitgeist and obvious approach of many “professional” journalists towards music: if it doesn’t convince instantly, then it’s sorted out and more or less ignored. To ignore this album nevertheless means nothing else than to turn a deaf ear to one of the strongest newcomers in Scandinavian metal who has it on itself to inspirit the tradition with fresh motives and stirring power. I hope that this band will jump at the chance of the tour with Enslaved and spark a fire on stage since an experience like that should empower Stonegard to realize even more individual ideas with the records to come…