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DETRITUS (USA), march 2001

Man, talk about misleading artwork! This indie album’s cover features a dragon breathing fire in the foreground, a castle atop a flying chunk of detached earth in the background, and the band’s logo superimposed on a sword at the bottom. Screams "Dungeons & Dragons power metal, possibly of the Italian variety," don’t it? But no. The band is a Dutch quintet, and the music is an intriguing mixture of AOR, hard rock, prog/art rock, and yes, a dash of metal. Everything’s done in a slightly left-of-center manner, and this only serves to enhance Chinawhite’s uniqueness. I’m sort of at a loss but I suppose I can describe their sound as a heavier, wackier Styx, as there are lots of keyboards (both organ and crisper, brighter tones) and vocalist Don Feltges has some similarities to Styx’s wildman James "JY" Young. Guitarist Peter Cox and keysman Rolf Vossen team up for some great alternating solos, and their phrasing is not cliched at all. (In a few nutty places, the tone of Cox’s understated guitar parts recalls what The Police’s Andy Summers was doing on SYNCHRONICITY!) "Foolin’ (The Real Places)" is a highly commercial mid-tempo rocker with a riff that playfully nicks the Sleeze Beez’ "Stranger Than Paradise" (they are countrymen and can do that I guess), "Infatuation" is an engaging instrumental that starts out funky/slappy and then builds into a domineering boil, "Changes" is a great AOR tune, and "In My Mind" jams and thunks along mightily, supported by Vossen’s big organ (no pun intended). As I said, the scattershot style is interesting, but it also leads to my one big complaint, and that is I feel some of the songs get interrupted by too-long, or pointless, breakdown sections that ruin the flow. (Cases in point: "Foolin’" and "In My Mind.") But otherwise, this is a grower and special mention has to be made of the crisp, clear production. Amazing sound. (Tim Wadzinski)

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