With Chinawhite we arrive at a completely different place. The Dutch band around guitarplayer Peter Cox (no association with the Go West singer) have a lot to offer for fans of melodic hardrock with prog elements. Productionwise this album is also well done as are the songs (maybe with the exception of In My Mind, which appears to be out of place). Opener Elevation Ticket combines melody with prog. Strong songs like Foolin, My one and Only or Changes are instant and compact. Good album which should appeal to friends of Lorian or Arjen Lucassen’s various projects. Dirk Nitschke
I give it to you; with a cover so tacky you’re better off blind! Luckily the music is good, although you can see with half an eye that the five Dutchmen from Chinawhite seem to have set their mind on a very “natural” recording. By this I mean that there’s been very little compression at sound capture and that the dynamic spectrum resulting from this frivolity is thus very broad. Now that you’ve been warned, don’t be surprised if your speakers explode all at once… Thanks to a fair amount of experience in the field, this band could afford such extravaganza without having it look like a mistake. It’s very true that this choice gives a little extra zest to music not always easily accepted these days. What do you want … with all these Dream Theaters and Pains Of Salvation running around, what to do with Saga-like riffs and jolly choruses reminiscent of the most syrupy of eighties Hard FM? Not a lot… and all this is the inescapable consequence of sad reality… Hey, nevertheless, I like it… because it’s real… Thumbs up for “Breathe Fire” and consecutive “Changes”. Too cool!
A gravel-voiced vocalist with a wide vocal range, compositions that are heavy in both a dynamic sense as much as a metal sense, a metal band to be proud of – the main ingredients of this, for me, curious band who manage to take elements from as disparate sources as Deep Purple, Golden Earring, ’90’s metallic AOR, and interact those and more on tracks that seem to have one foot in the seventies and one in the nineties, the overall effect being an album that has the slightly watered-down effect as some legendary seventies rock album that may have sounded great in its day but held up to bands such as Millennium & Motorhead, sound more hard than heavy. Still, it’s well done, the vocalist’s a bit of an acquired taste, and the tracks seem strong enough but the main minus factor is its serious lack of real identity, but maybe you’ll think different – worth trying. (Andy Garibaldi)
ALBUM OF THE WEEK
We are way behind the times on this one in fact it was released last year. However I understand it is still available from the band’s website (or CDBaby in the US). So why review the album? Well because it’s one of those releases that restores your faith in rock music and puts a smile on your face. Should you find it in a shop you won’t miss it because it comes complete with excellent artwork that gets even better when you open the jewel case. Musically Chinawhite are one of those bands who cannot make their mind up which genre of rock they wish to play. Early tracks such as ‘Elevation Ticket’ and ‘In My Mind’ sound like a less metal version of the wonderful Human Race with a metal approach and an up front and leery keyboard sound. Very Dio/Rainbow. After that it’s far more progressive with hints of British progressive rock bands such as Marillion and Arena. None of those Dream Theater upstarts here. The whole of the band seem ideally suited to this style of rock particularly guitarist Peter Cox. Much of the band’s character however comes from vocalist Don Feltges who whilst not being the greatest singer in the world and not singing in his natural language still has a voice that is hard to resist, not unlike Spandau Ballet’s Tony Hadley. Their schizophrenic nature even extends to the album instrumental which cannot decide whether it wants to be a progressive work out or a chugging riff monster. Definitely one of the year’s (…er last year’s) most refreshing independent releases which is well worth taking the time to track down. 8/10 Matthew Honey
"Breathe Fire" is the first full length work of this Dutch band. The artwork makes you think that you have a CD from an epic metal band in your hands. Chinawhite is however something completely different. The CD is filled with excellent progressive hard rock. "Breathe Fire" is an album that you have to play several times to absorb it. During the first spin I didn’t think too much of this release but after a few spins it started to grow. Because of the particular use of the keyboards the album gets a 70’s feel. If you compare this with their previous released EP you will hear that the band made a lot of progression. The songs are more catchy, more mature and the production done by Fred Hendrix from fellow Dutch rockers Terra Nova (RIP) is good. Vocalist Don Feltges has a powerful voice which fits the music like a glove. If you’re looking for a good prog rock / metal CD than check these guys out. (8) Bruno van de Velde.
I’ve been championing this band ever since I heard their fantastic debut ep "A Dragon’s Birth" a couple of years ago. "Breathe Fire" is the band full debut album. Chinawhite play a mixture of melodic symphonic rock, AOR and Progressive rock, the musician ship is very tight and if you like bands like Emerald Rain, Dream Theater, Terra Nova, Saga etc then please do check this album out as each song is fantastic and walks all over their debut. Honestly they sound like a fresh new band, and they sound as if they had so much fun recording this album, which makes Chinawhite stand out from the crowd, as you can tell that they play this music for the love of it, and not just because it popular. I’ve been playing this album for about two months now, and it hardly ever leaves my boom box, I love albums like this, where the hooks just get under your skin forcing you to play it more and more. Check out the hugely catchy and very melodic ‘Foolin’ (The Real Places)’ with a chorus that you won’t get out of your head. The progressive melodic twist of track six which is a two part song called ‘Breathe Fire’ and ‘Changes’ reminds me of Saga, Talisman and Terra Nova and is just so brilliant that I cannot find the words to write. Just listen to Don Feltges magical vocals and Rolf Vossen’s tasty keyboard parping. A totally killer song. The whole sound of "Breath Fire" is very professional; producer Fred Hendrix has done a superb job and will soon be recognised as a major producer in the rock world and every band will want his influence. Honest he’s done wonders with Chinawhite and it won’t be long before a label snaps them up. Listen to the beautiful ‘Permanent Vacation’ for some classy musical changes that will leave you gasp in awe. This song is an epical eight minute long heartwrenching symphonic ballad. Also check out the superb ‘Losers In The End’ with its Dream Theater comparisons and the excellent symphonic ‘No Fear Of The Dark’ and the closing piano instrumental ‘The Entity Returned’. From start to finish "Breathe Fire" is one of the best albums in this genre from an independent band in a long time that offers something that fans of all rock genres will enjoy and I really can’t recommend this highly enough. Soon an interview with China White so watch out for that in the upcoming weeks. Nicky Baldrian
Before listening to this cd, i was thinking that China White were a typical heavy metal band singing about dragons and medieval adventures. But they surprised me with a big influence from progressive rock and hard rock, with a strong sound, excellent musicians and a great vocalist, who can be compared to the biggest names of the 80’s. Don Feltges own a unique voice which fits perfectly to Chinawhite’s music. Before this album, they had released 3 demo-tapes and an EP with 4 songs, named "A Dragon’s Birth", what makes us to consider "Breathe Fire" as the beginning of their professional career. The influences came from groups like Asia, Rush, Marillion, Dokken and Van Halen, among others. This CD brings 11 songs, bringing different feelings in all of them. Maybe the visual part of the CD isn’t the best, but we can understand that, since their label is a new one. But the sound production is great, and if they had appeared in the 80’s, would have a lot of chances to establish themselves among the best names of that period. 8.5 Francisco Dias-Valdez Alvim
Though the cover might tell you different, this is not a "dragon" (= bad) of an album. The firespitting animal refers not only to the album title, but also to the first effort of this Limburgian formation: A Dragon’s Birth. That album was a mini cd, so actually this is kind of an official debut. The heavy music this band makes is very mature, though aside the tracks NTT. Infatuation and The Entity Returns, cannot be referred to as symphonic music. It is more a mix of AOR and progmetal. Heavy guitars and shining keys make Elevation Ticket to an excellent opener. The keyboards are all together in no way used as a side issue on the album. Often there is a pumping Hammond under the wall of guitar, or a song is introduced on piano and later followed by a synth solo (Changes). A song like Foolin’ (the real places) could tie them to the people who have Boston in their collection. That this solid material is brought so convincingly is not in the least due to Feltges’ vocals. Listen to the strong track Permanent Vacation, which starts as a ballad, but ends forcefully. This track also shows that the band is capable of more than just play rough and mean. But in my opinion there are also tracks that are shouted in a far too hard rock like fashion, besides some tracks which I think are beneath standard ( No Fear of the Dark, Losers in the End). A listener with a different taste however, may consider those the highlights of the album. When you love your music muscled, you will definetly find some things to amuse you here. Holland has gained another great band. (Antonie Deelen)
Commanded from the guitarist Peter Cox, this Dutch five-piece have cooked a delicious product of pomp hard rock with progressive adventures. The cd opens with the rock filled " Evelation Ticket " where the riff of Cox is alternated for the optimal vocal of Don Feltges. This is continued with " In My Mind " with the keyboards of Rolf Vossen in an important role. " Foolin’ " is the highlight of the album, with that riff and those melodies you will have to work hard not to memorize it at first listen. The fifth track " My One And Only " is still melodic hard rock of European stamp while in the 8 minutes and means of " Permanent Vacation " the group show what they are capable of. To the end we find " No Fear Of The Dark " where guitars and keyboards are very fierce and the voice of Feltges will crack your boxes.
I don’t get Dutch material to review very often. And if future material sounds like this I’d like to keep it like that. China White is not all bad, but it’s been ages since I heard a singer sound as goofy as Don Feltges on this record. His theatrical singing must fit in somewhere but definitely not on this album. There’s a few good thing going on here too though. I like the keyboards a lot. And some of the riffs and melodies are worthwhile. Even the overall sound is o.k. (not more than that though). These guys need to make up their minds. As far as I’m concerned they should stick to the ‘lighter’ tracks such as the opening song "Elevation Ticket" or "Foolin". It’s the louder tracks that provoke Feltges into silliness. If this had been an instrumental album it wouldn’t have been half bad and if Feltges would use his natural voice and behave for a bit it would sound lots better. After all the other musicians (Peter Cox – guitar, Paul Roefs – bass, Rolf Vossen, keyboards and Hans in’t Zand – drums) aren’t doing a bad job. Especially Vossen’s keyboards are pretty cool. I’m not wasting more time on this. I hope these guys will move towards more poppy material. That’s what sounds best on this album anyway. (Eef Vink)