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Digital Steel (NL), march 2010

Digital Steel, march 2010, ProgRalph, 67/100

The Dutch band China White was founded in 1989. Challenges is the second cd of the band; during the history of the band many demos were released. Most of them can be downloaded from their website (https://www.chinawhite.nl).

Now back to the present. The current lineup is Peter Cox (guitars/vocals); Don Feltges (lead vocals), Sander Stappers (bass), Rolf "Fuchs" Vossen (keyboards) and Hans in ‘t Zandt (drums/vocals). A negative point is the vocals and production. The vocals are the lesser part of the album because they sound like average hard rock vocals. In the production most of the times the vocals are mixed more to the background. Especially in the first half of the album the riffs, drums and keyboard often sound as loud as the vocals; sometimes they are even louder and the vocals are somewhere on the background. It becomes irritating. On the other hand the instrumental parts are produced well. These parts are the stronger parts of the album.

Chinawhite is very much influenced by bands like Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Uriah Heep and Threshold. On the website the bands makes a comparison with Dream Theater; I can’t hear that comparison; it isn’t present on the album.
My Venus Rising is the best track; it begins with the typical Black Sabbath riffs, after an up tempo part it slows down and ends with a great instrumental progressive part (comparable with Threshold). Stranger starts with a bluesy riffs; they sound louder than the vocals. The drumming (cymbals) during the choruses are overdone; it gets irritating. Better then You starts like Purple with the typical John Lord Hammond sound with pushing riffs. Remarkable is the intro of Inside (Smoke on the Water). How Many Miles has the best vocals;
The Storm Rages On is a blues rock song; also in this song the instrumental parts are interesting, a great guitar solo on a carpet of psychedelic keyboards. The album starts as it begins; a large intro and outro of almost 4 minutes.

With Challenges Chinawhite made a bluesy hardrock cd. Due to the not so good production Chinawhite isn’t able to transcend the average level. Fans of bluesy hard rock might try to listen to the album; they might appreciate it. Hopefully the band performs the songs on stage better than on cd.
It’s a pity the album don’t have a well mixed production. With a better production Challenges would be rated higher absolutely.

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