Challenges is Chinawhite`s tenth official release. In their early days, Chinawhite released some cassettes which are not available anymore. Some of these old recordings are summarized on the album DEMO’S 1990-2005, which can be downloaded on the site. Challenges is Chinewhite`s third official cd.
Chinawhite was founded in 1987. Some musicians of those early days are still present in the current line-up. In those early days, Chinawhite concentrated on playing “melodic rock with symphonic frill and groovy rythms”. They performed songs of among others Rush, Saga and Marillion. But they wanted to do more live performances so the band members decided to play also more well-known Top 100 covers. During the years, Chinawhite builded up a solid reputation and this leads to a lot of gigs together with bands like Uriah Heep and The Golden Earring. In the meanwhile, some changes in the line-up took place, Don Feltges (Lead Vocals) enters the band in 1993 and Sander Stappers becomes the new Bass player in 2003. The other members are Peter Cox (Guitar and Vocals), Rolf Vossen (keyboards) and Hans in `t Zand (Drums).
The recording of the new album Challenges started in 2007 and it is released in November 2009. The songs on the album are again a step forward if you compare these to the older songs which can be downloaded from the website. Peter Cox (guitar) is responsible for most of the songs. Challenges is an album which needs more time to discover and to unravel all these compositions. One of my favorites is My Venus Rising, with nice keyboard and guitar parts. In my opinion, it is more progressive rock than symphonic rock because of the complexity that some songs show. I think it is an album to check out for fans of music from Saga, Rush etc. Something what I also want to mention is the very nice artwork!
Challenges has become an album that I will listen more to in the future. (Jordy Brouwers)
The new disk of Dutch band Chinawhite is a nice one, but could have been good. The eleven songs on "Challenges" contain a number of nice ideas but these are not refined enough to make it a top album. As a whole it has strong guitar riffs, good drumwork, a Hammond organ, a didgeridoo plus beautiful arrangements from guitar player Peter Cox but it is not quite finished. It is known that there aren’t many good rock singers in The Netherlands, so a lot of bands just have to do with what is available, as do Chinawhite. It seems singer Don Feltges was put aside in a small booth and in a song like ‘Stranger’, built on a strong riff, he is barely audible. Or he screams like mad and strains his voice. Not only in this song though, for example listen to ‘Wings Of The Wind’.
The band exists since 1989 and has been together for a long time (since 1993 in this line up) and released several demo’s and 2 mini-cd’s. They also delivered 2 songs to the sampler ‘Southern Comfort – 12 beauties oet Limburg’. The band rocks out heavily in songs like ‘Challenges – Dreams Of A Child’, ‘Inside’, ‘The Storm Rages On’ (beautiful composition with lots of timechanges), or the log ‘I Am I’ but also have frivolous songs like ‘Dive With A Dolphin’. As a whole the material can be described as melodic prog rock and it contains elements of bands like Saga, Rush, Deep Purple en Uriah Heep. Too bad the (intro) riff of ‘How Many Miles’ was taken from Joe Jackson’s ‘The Harder They Come’ , else it might have been a hit. The 4 minutes of sea sound at the end were better left off. Chinawhite obviously has potential, but need a better production and singer to really hit the mark. (Arco)
Dutch band Chinawhite exists for over 20 years. Key members are Rolf Vossen (keyboards), Hans in ‘t Zandt (drums) and especially Peter Cox (guitars/vocals) who plays a big part in the compositions. The 11 songs equal over an hour of music and the songs vary in length from almost 4 to over 8 minutes. About 10 years ago, the first full length album was released, and before that only demo’s and an EP. After a beautiful symphonic and orchestral overture the true face of the band becomes "visible". Melodic hard rock seems the starting point of this band. The band proclaims this album will be liked by fans of Rush, Saga, Dream Theater, Threshold, Deep Purple or Uriah Heep. I can only agree to the last 2 of them. And then mainly the latter (during their sting with Pete Goalby, early 80’s), due to the regular use of a screaming Hammond, though the compositions and vocals bare similarities as well. The production could have been better, because the vocals of singer Don Feltges are unclear and often low in the mix, while the riffing and rhythm guitars are too loud for my taste. The twists and sometimes heavy orchestrations however leave no doubt about the progressive and symphonic interests of the band. Not strange considering knowing that Chinawhite used to cover Camel, Marillion and Kansas. Especially the orchestral parts and the subtle piano parts are very nice. A wink to Kansas is found in the tracks Inside and Wings Of The Wind. Ideas enough, but writing a catchy song without bearing too much resemblance proves difficult. The singing is more hard rock oriented than symphonic thus leans more towards forcing than clear and melodic. An external producer might have been able to lift more out of this enthusiastic group. What rests is a praiseworthy and courageous attempt, but I am afraid the main public won’t warm up to this release. (Menno von Brucken Fock )
Album of the week
In the week of december 6, Challenges was Album of the week as this playlist shows. Thank you Jerome!
In Holland, Belgium and Germany CHINAWHITE are a relatively known name. The band was formed in early 1987 and since 1993, the band have been intact with the same five members. By playing live a lot, they have built up a solid framework that really sounds professional and experienced. It was, however, 1997 as the band finally had the opportunity to release an official CD, a mini-CD "a dragon’s birth". It was more symphonic rock than progressive rock, which the band from the beginning was. To play as much as possible before an audience the band bet the covers and it became songs from e.g. Toto, Whitesnake, Paul McCartney & Wings, Kansas, Journey, Pearl Jam and Gun, which probably colored the music for the band’s first release. Success did not let up as soon the band was in the studio again, again with Fred Hendrix (Terra Nova) who helped the boys with the album "Breathe fire" which was released in 2000. Now begins a time of turbulence and drummer Hans in ‘t Zandt, builds a reputation as a session drummer and soon gets requests from Vengeance, Cooper Inc., Parris and Mad Max. Don Feltges, CHINAWHITE’s singer, start touring with guitar virtuoso Joe Stump and the other band members also have other commitments, which allows CHINAWHITE take second place for some years. From 2007, members again devote them self to their old band and recordings of their third album start, which has now been released and has been given the name "Challenges", a title which suited the band’s most recent roller coaster. The album is recorded in their own Studio and I shall start with what is not good with "Challenges" it’s sound. I have heard a demo of some titles which sound better than this and it is primarily the singer Don Feltges, which is the biggest problem. Not personally, but why did they place him a bit behind all other instruments? This means that you hardly hear the voice, and this affects the potential enormously. That CHINAWHITE are good musicians is not difficult to hear and if you like bands like Marillion, Threshold, Uriah Heep and other Dutch bands Kayak, Ulysses and The Aurora Project you should absolutely check out CHINAWHITE. The music is good but, unfortunately, the soft vocals make it difficult for me to be able to enjoy this album to the fullest. With better recording capabilities, this album would have been really good. (Roger)
Chinawhite kind of make a false start with us. While reading the complete 22 year biography of the band, and finding out only the last piece mentions the new CD, nothing really happens during the first 4 minutes of the album. A rain sample, didgeridoo murmur. Some keys. The title track on the other hand is really firing, nice rocking riff. Wolfmother could play that on a crazy day, as well as Rush. Maybe even Liquid Tension Experiment, now they are back together. Alas that riff only lasts 2 minutes and a half. Mmhmm. Next singer Peter Cox makes a nice attempt to come close to the great Neal Morse. As a matter of fact the whole band does. And fails. The song piece is not enchanting enough. Cox is not good enough. And he is very low in the mix.
Next the Limburgian 5-piece set a pattern. Every song contains memorable hooks, mostly the opening riff. With ‘Stranger’ that is 90% Wolfmother, but tasty. ‘Better Than You’ could be taken from a Transatlantic jam, until Cox starts singing. ‘Inside’ starts sneaky as a delicious stadium rocker (Whitesnake? Treshold? Toto?), but lasts too long. The album is too long as a whole, mainly because there are no real beautiful songs played, unlike the artists mentioned before. It are patched pieces of music, intermezzo’s and solo’s, with little impact.
Don’t get us wrong, the level of musicianship is high and that we don’t like Cox’ voice might be our mistake. And like said before, the album contains nice moments. But to us they have too little sound of their own, although the band has a coherent sound. Maybe there are too many revival bands doing it better. Or maybe we miss the drama, the emotion from for example Neal Morse. Or maybe we think that this style is done, while many others might completely disagree with us. Let’s put it this way, Challenges is a nice CD that does not touch us where we want to be touched. If the organization from for example Symforce has the guts to program the band, we will surely give them a chance. (Eelco van der Meer)
“Another Chinawhite?, “ you may think! Yeah, but this Dutch band goes back quite a long time…to 1987, to be precise! That’s when a couple of friends (from different bands) get together for the first time to rehearse songs from other bands…and find the chemistry working so well (especially among guitarist/ backing vocalist Peter Cox, keyboardist Rolf “Fuchs” Vossen, and drummer Hans In ‘t Zand) that they wanna try out the Symphonic Hard Rock side-project on a stage as well.
Then, in early ’89, the members of the bands Jester’s Tear and Trouwens decide to quit their former bands to continue with Chinawhite. Evidently, the urge to create some original material now rises, and at the end of 1990 the band produces its debut demo A Thousand Thoughts with 4 of those originals and a cover of Van Halen’s “Jump”. During the next year, they get a chence to participate in a regional project, which results in two newly recorded tracks of the band being featured next to 2 songs by each of the 5 other bands on a sampler CD titled Southern Comfort – 12 Beauties Oet Limburg. The German production company responsible for the project then offers the band a deal for a full-length, but the band declines due to lacking belief in the label. Following two more demos (1992’s 4-track When Dreams Unite, and 1994’s 5-track Sign Of the Time – each again containing at least one cover), a studio owner whom had just got himself a digital computer programmable system offers ‘em to re-mix some of the band’s material, and the band swiftly agree, taking the opportunity to learn how to work this new type of equipment. As a result, the band releases it’s 5-track (all originals) debut mini-CD A Dragon’s Birth in 1997.
During the two years that follow, the band works on the debut full-length, trying out older songs, creating new ones…and after may problems (both personal, logistical, financial, and technical) the Fred Hendrix (of Terra Nova repute) produced Breathe Fire sees light of day in August 2000. During Summer 2003 a line-up change occurs, when the long-time bassist leaves. His shoes are finally filled 3 months later by current bassist Sanders Stappen (who’d also play in such bands as 2nd Gear and Sengaia, for starters), whom originally only stepped in to help the band out on a temporary basis. By then however, the drummer had built a solid reputation, and finds himself playing with Steve Fister, Vengeance, Cooper Inc., Mad Max, Parris…(and more). Lead singer Don Feltges then starts touring with Joe Stump, and other members in the band pick up outside activities…
In between however, and that mainly through Peter Cox’ perseverance, the band soldiers on…gets together occasionally to compose new material…and during 2007 a home studio is geared up. As a first result, the band releases a Demo’s 1990-2005 compilation, the disc also featuring five new tracks which would be used on the upcoming new album. Which brings us full circle to the current album (issued on the band’s own label), and samples of all songs can be found in the releases section on the band’s own website Chinawhite.nl (full-length demo versions of two of ‘em, plus samples and full-lengths off older material…can be found at that same address). Of course, you can also check out the full-length of the single-edit version of single “My Venus Rising”, an album teaser, and other stuff, at myspace.com/chinawhite.nl.
My personal thoughts? Chinawhite are successful in bringing a Classic Rock based Symphonic Hard Rock, with some Progressive fringes.The singer ain’t grand, but his little defaults àre an extra element in making the band’s music overall remeniscent of (German) bands in that scene, era late ‘70s! In essence, not a bad album at all, but definitely one the listener needs to let grow upon himself. If you’re looking for possibilities to go see this band in live situations, forget it! In January of this year the band decided that they would go on as a studio project only, having found it increasingly more difficult over the years to take time away from their other (musical) occupations. (Tony)
The history of the Dutch band CHINAWHITE goes back a long way. The band was formed at the end of the 1980s and released 2 CDs during this period, now following it up with the 3rd CD ‘Challenges’. Musically they have always been mixing Classic Hardrock, Progressive Rock/Metal and Symphonic Melodic Rock. A little FATES WARNING here, some URIAH HEEP there and RUSH influences added to make up the melodic progressive rocksound of CHINAWHITE. Instrumental it sounds very sensational, but vocally it could use a little more punch and strength. Sometimes the band goes for a very melodic path such as during the midtempo melodic rocker “How many miles”, but a song like “Challenges – Dreams of a child” or “Better than you” is definitely pure Progressive Metal. All done very well, the 11 included songs on the band’s new CD and for more info I refer to: www.chinawhite.nl (Gabor Kleinbloesem)
GOLD (6/7) Album of the Week
Challenges? You have to be ready sometimes, because listening to the new CD from Dutch band Chinawhite is a real challenge. The band grew from a symphonic rock formation with a small "s" to a progressive rock band with a capital "P". On "Challenges" the band explore all their possible boundaries, which will take you more than one listening session before reaching the conclusion that this album is their justified masterpiece. A beautiful way to celebrate 20 years of Chinawhite. (Peter Rotthier)
Coming from the Netherlands, Chinawhite has a strong musical history that dates back to the early 1990’s. Over their twenty year journey they have released numerous EPs and compilations garnering some respected reviews and a host of fans. Challenges is their latest work, and only the second full-length CD of original material. If you dig progressive rock with the huge flavor of an old school 70’s style, this collection is an auspicious and entertaining slab of music.
Don’t let the old school appellation throw you off by any means. Chinawhite may refer to the past but they hardly wallow in musical reminiscence or create a sappy homage. All the songs and their arrangements are alive and ambitious displaying Chinawhite’s deft skill and creative composition. Songs like How Many Miles, The Storm Rages On, or Wings on the Wind show some intriguing movements and turns over accessible and melodic complexity. You will not be bored. Musicianship is at a premium as Challenges is distinguished by a precision many younger bands only grasp at. The only difficulty here is the vocal performance from Don Feltges Ordinarily I would guess his style is strong with good projection. But on this recording his vocals are often so severely blunted to be enjoyable. Otherwise, Challenges is a brilliant and constantly surprising work of progressive rock (Craig Hartraft,)