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"What If ? CD Review"

What If?
Exsubel Records, 2008
Review by Joe Milliken

Ladies and gentlemen, if you have not yet had the pleasure, meet Stonewall – Josh Parker on guitar and lead vocals, Ryan Young on drums and backing vocals and Philip Chiu on six–string bass – a raging, up and coming power trio hailing from Claremont, New Hampshire. Be ready though, for this band will leave an impression on you... they will leave their mark.

Stonewall's first full–length release titled What If?, was recorded locally at Exsubel Studios in Saxtons River, VT and produced by the band along with the late, great Doug Bashaw. It offers 12 powerful original tracks full of heavy, poignant lyrics, aggressive and precisely progressive jams with searing guitar solos, all tied together by Parker's unique vocal style that falls somewhere in between James Hetfield and Jerry Cantrell.

Let it be known that What If? explores mostly dark places and themes in it's lyrical content, some of which are as plain to understand as the red and black lyrics in the CD booklet – and yet
others, not so much. Engineered and mixed by Shamus Martin at Exsubel Records, the sound is wide–open and loud, but also crisp and pristine when it needs to be.

The opening "Blessings For Pearls", arguably the best–known song (so far) among Stonewall's growing loyal following, immediately establishes what makes this band special; mean power riffs, precision rhythms, killer guitar solo, mighty vocals that seemingly echo over the proceedings and a genuine tightness that only comes from countless hours of paying your dues. Other tracks such as "Janitor Man", "Since The Day", "The Trudge" and "Vengeance" also adhere to these heavy themes and authoritative musicianship.

However, don't think for a second that Stonewall won't switch gears mid–stream, or should I say mid–flood, possessing a command and versatility of their instruments that allows them the freedom to explore other perhaps less expected textures, such as Young's percussive tinkering on "Masculinsense" and "The Epic", or Chiu's fingering prowess on "Straight White Teeth" (and really, every track!) and Parker's (we'll call it) lighter embellishes on "Grain" and the aforementioned "The Trudge". A sense of humor even peeks through the cracks on the funny–yet–worrisome partying ways of "Comatoasted" and the hippie tale of lost innocence in "Your Sweet Intents".

However the favorite track for this reviewer (with "Blessings", "Vengeance" and "Grain" all very close behind) has to be the closing epic..."The Epic". A fantastic tip of the cap to Stonewall's appreciation for the progressive side of rock, complete with a classic Hackett–Genesis guitar intro, transparent story line and tight, stop–and–go changes throughout. Of course, this may all just be a result of drawing conclusions in my own head – but I am sure the band won't mind if I run with it!

What If? (visually speaking) features dark and fitting front cover art that is impactful and to the point – just like the music. Classy packaging includes a full color booklet with complete lyrics and a cool, back cover collage of live band shots.

Yes, the debut release from this hard driving metal–rock trio is clearly marked for the dark and heavy side, yet Stonewall also clearly, does not pigeon–hole themselves into any one vibe, rather expanding the dimensions of their core sound, a true sign of musical integrity.

What If? marks the first official step in the journey of Stonewall, but also documents the important final ingredient in the legacy of local musician and sound engineer Mr. Bashaw, a one–of–a–kind man whose star still shines brightly through the music of this album. All involved should be very proud.

So for all you music enthusiasts out there who always wanted to say, "I knew that band before they were famous", then I suggest you get out there and track down Stonewall because it is only a matter of time, my friends.

To learn more about Stonewall visit or contact Joe Milliken at

- Joe Milliken

"What If? Worth The Wait. (CD Review)"

What If?
Exsubel Records, 2008
Review by Mike Witthaus

Over the last four-plus years, Stonewall's live shows earned them a reputation as one of the hardest rocking outfits around. They are quite literally the band to beat, as several "battle of the bands" contestants left in their musical dust can well attest. But it's taken until now for Stonewall to commit their energetic hybrid of metal and melody to disc.

Solid from start to finish, "What If?" was definitely worth the wait. The fuzz-toned opener, "Blessing For Pearls," rips a page from Zeppelin and blends it with post-millennial angst. "Janitor Man" will invite Alice in Chains comparisons – deservedly so. Lead guitarist and vocalist Josh Parker's baritone hovers just above a growl.

"Vengeance" is a good example of Stonewall's hard-edged melodic style. The 8-minute track begins in a flurry of heavy metal bullets. It then crosses over a polyrhythmic structure featuring a few speedy guitar figures from Parker, before settling into a blistering boogie.

Make no mistake, while most of the record rocks, it's never buried in sturm und drang. This thematically dark "Masculincense" (Parker may have wrote it after a night of old Nine Inch Nails videos) churns and roils, then ends with a tasty blues progression.

"Comatoasted" is reminiscent of Primus, another 90's power trio. It's a ride that starts slow and turns into a runaway train. "Your Sweet Intents" achieves the same energy, showcasing Ryan Young's staccato drumming and featuring one of Parker's meatiest solos.

Young and six-string bassist Philip Chiu are a brawny rhythm section throughout, but the duo also bring a gentle touch to the record's quieter moments. These include the Stone Temple Pilots dead ringer "Grain," with Parker majestically soloing at song's end. The snarky power ballad "Straight White Teeth," a Stonewall live staple for about as long as they've been playing, makes the move from stage to studio with aplomb.

Speaking of Stonewall standards, it's a mystery why the punched-up rocker "Hearing Loss" didn't make it on to "What If?" Maybe the band is saving it for a future EP.

If they're reminiscent of anyone, it's bands whose heyday came long before anyone in the band was born. The James Gang, Mountain and Three Man Army – the youngsters in Stonewall may not know these relics by name, but be assured their spirit lives in their music.

It's essential to note the production team that shepherded "What If?" through its' nearly two year journey to completion. Early on, Shamus Martin worked with the band at Exsubel Studios, mixing them and helping them find a polished studio sound without sacrificing their live edge.

The production credit, however, goes to the late Doug Bashaw. Committing a power trio to tape – or these days, digital bits – can be a delicate balancing act. Bashaw added enough studio magic – guitar bags, phased vocals, SFX - to make the record more than simply a document of a great live band, but not at the expense of Stonewall's essence.

- Michael Witthaus

"Promoting a Stonewall show..."

Saturday: Stonewall, Royal Flush – It’s a good Saturday for hard rock fans, with Hexerei and Transcent at the Claremont Moose, but I mention this show for two reasons. One, the Flush touts the quality of the tribute bands it brings in, but this show re-states the club’s ongoing commitment to original local music. Two, Stonewall rocks.

- Michael Witthaus, Algorhythms

"Blessings For Pearls"

“Blessings for Pearls” is the first single from Stonewall’s demo disc. The band spent several fruitful weeks at Exsubel working with Shamus Martin. There are more to come, but this is currently streaming at MySpace, and I’ve taken the liberty of making it easier to download. It’s got the punch and crunch I’ve grown fond of, and I’m sure it will translate well live.

I’ll find out how well tonight when I check the band out at Electra with Hexerei. Old home night, with costumes and everything. Don’t expect I’ll dress up though - I think 40’s the cutoff age. Maybe a baseball jersey, who knows?

It’s funny, Stonewall reminds me mostly of Mountain, Three Man Army and Cactus. I’ve talked to Josh Parker and mentioned these bands, and I get the distinct impression he has no idea who any of them are, but he’s polite about it. God bless the young whippersnapper.

- Michael Witthaus


"...A Veritable Three Man Army." - Eagle Times

"Dish it out."

“The closest thing to genuine rock stars… Three guys who chew up the stage and rock like demons… If you like it heavy, they can dish it out.” Michael Witthaus, Eagle Times. - Eagle Times


"...the best power trio in the Twin State region, and maybe points beyond." Michael Whithaus - Eagle Times

"Field of Rock '07"

..."After eight bands worth of unadulterated metal and hard rock, the stage was set for the headlining trio Stonewall, who have been making quite a name for themselves with their unique brand of powerful grunge rock.
Consisting of Josh Parker on guitar and lead vocals, Ryan Young on drums and vocals and Philip Chiu on bass, Stonewall has been on quite a roll to say the least, having won five straight 'Battle of the Bands', including most recently at the Shenanigans Battle of the bands in White River Junction, VT.
Stonewall is currently working on a new album at Exsubel Studios which should be ready sometime in the fall, and their latest single 'Blessings for Pearls' is currently getting heavy airplay on the Upper Valley FM station Rock 93.9/101.7."
- Joe Milliken

"Field Of Rock Article"

Field Of Rock Charity Event An Ear-Splitting Success
Nine Area Bands Rock Together For Ludlow Recreation Camp

By Joe Milliken, Message Arts&Entertainment

Rock and roll is a powerful force, capable of not only bringing joy to generations of music lovers around the world, but also capable of bringing together local communities for a truly worthy cause.

In this case it was the Field Of Rock 2007 festival at Bixby Field in Ludlow, an nine-band rock concert sponsored by Ludlow's Christopher's Bar & Grill and, to benefit a great cause - the local Ludlow Recreational Camp Fund.

An "open to all ages/no alcohol" event, the nearly 14-hour rock show featured some of the best local bands in the area including headliner Stonewall, as well as Undying Breed, Broken Mindz, Spectris, Starefall, Mercy Machine, D'Brotherhood, Cellblock One, Pocket Toys, and Y69.

Along with a day of great live music, there were also several interesting "giveaway" raffles including a beautiful Washburn, 12-string electric guitar complete with hard case/extra strings/picks, as well as a set of band t-shirts from all the days' performers.

As for the show itself and although this reviewer didn't get the opportunity to see every band that gave their time to perform, the bands I did get to see certainly each made their mark on the event.

After several bands performed earlier in the day including Y69, Pocket Toys, Cellblock One and the trio D'Brotherhood, local thrashers Starefall took the stage, blasting their way through an hour long set, before the veteran local band Spectris shifted gears, moving to a more progressive, power-trio sound full of tight arrangements, odd time changes and a signature classic rock-guitar sound.

Consisting of Christopher Bergmann (guitar/vocals), Todd Westfall (drums/vocals) and Josh Mosher (bass/vocals), Spectris performed an interesting mix of originals from their first album, a couple new songs and even a Tool cover mixed in.

Look for the new Spectris titled Industry to be released by the end of the year.

Springfield-based Broken Mindz, Roger Bickford (lead vocal/rhythm guitar), Roger Convey (rhythm guitar/vocals), Mike Descoteaux (bass/vocals) and Jeff Bixby (drums), followed with a hard-hitting set of fusion-type metal, displaying hard riffs that blended well with interesting progressive arrangements and an impressive rhythm section.

Undying Breed, a Slayer-influenced metal foursome which travelled down from the North Kingdom to appear at the benefit were up next, followed by Springfield's own old-school metal outfit Mercy Machine.

After eight bands worth of unadulterated metal and hard rock, the stage was set for the headlining Stonewall, a trio based in Claremont, who have been making quite a name for themselves with their unique brand of powerful grunge-rock.

Consisting of Josh Parker on guitar and lead vocals, Ryan Young on drums and vocals and Phillip Chui on bass, Stonewall has been on quite a roll to say the least, having won five-straight "battles of the bands" including most recently at the "Shenanigan's Battle of the bands" in White River Junction.

Stonewall is currently working on a new album at Exsubel Studios which should be ready sometime in the fall, and their latest single "Blessings & Pearls" is currently getting weekend airplay on the Upper Valley FM station Rock 93.9/101.7.

Overall, the Field Of Rock 2007 festival was a success in bringing together so many local bands to work as one, for a great cause.

A return show is already being planned for next year, so it looks like this may grow into an annual event.

- The Message


"What If?" the full length album 2008
"Blessings for Pearls" single, Nov. 2006
"Poisoning the Well" EP, June 2006
"Live at the Windham" live album, Feb. 2006



Stonewall is a hard rock power-trio based in the Connecticut River Valley of New Hampshire and Vermont. They are very popular in their area, and are quickly establishing themselves all over the Northeast and New England. Stonewall’s original songs mix elements of the hard rock of the 70s, the 90s, and today with the raw energy of grunge and the musicianship of metal, with nods to blues, roots, acoustic, and southern rock influences. Stonewall aims to transcend genres, and refuse to be pigeonholed. While their sound is certainly heavy at times, the thunder comes with a healthy dose of soul. They try to steer clear of gimmicks and clichés, and recall a time when rock bands succeeded through meaningful songwriting, musical excellence, mastery of their instruments, great stage charisma, and a strong work ethic. With a wealth of talent on each instrument, Stonewall stands out from the crowd as the band to watch.

Stonewall has played with well-known national acts such as Days Of The New, Quiet Riot, The Misfits, Brand New Sin, Suicide City, and Gary Hoey. They also love to play with up-and-coming local and touring bands as well. Stonewall has won Five “Battle Of The Bands” by various sponsors and venues including Q106FM, ROCK93.9/101.7, FOX101.5, Electra Nightclub, Captain B’s Bar & Grill, and Uncle Sam‘s Pub.

Stonewall aims to provide the best concert experience they can for the fans and venue. Josh, Ryan, and Philip are confident in what they do, yet remain humble, even as they gain more and more attention and praise, and are committed to putting in the hard work necessary to realize Stonewall’s full potential.

Stonewall was once known as The Few. Josh Parker --the lead singer, guitarist and primary songwriter-- formed the band in 2000. When Ryan young replaced their first drummer in 2004, they changed the name to Stonewall. Phillip Chiu took over on bass in 2005. The current lineup is by far the most talented yet. Phillip’s dexterity on bass and Ryan’s explosive drumming offer the perfect compliment to Josh’s solid rhythm and exciting lead guitar work. Josh’s rich baritone lead vocals are supported by both Ryan and Phillip singing backup. They deliver a remarkably full sound for three people. Josh’s proficient songwriting ensures that Stonewall constantly delivers new songs full of clever tongue-in cheek humor, social commentary and personal insight.

Stonewall aims to provide the best cooncert experience they can for the fans. Josh, Ryan and Phillip remain humble, even as they gain more and more attention, and are commited to putting in the hard work necessary to realize Stonewall’s full potential.

Stonewall has played with well-known national acts such as Days of the New, The Misfits, Gary Hoey, Quiet Riot, Iron Horse, and Suicide City. They also love to play with up-and-coming local and touring bands. Stonewall has won six “Battle of the Bands” events sponsored by various hosts including: Captain B’s Bar & Grill, Q106FM, FOX101.5, ROCK 93.9/101.7, and the 2007 Upper Valley Battle @ Shenanigan's in White River Junction, VT.
Stonewall's debut album "What If? was released in the fall of 2008, getting high marks, and great reviews. The band plans to hit the road touring in support of the album through 2009, and get back in the studio in 2010 to record a second album.