ChinaWhite – Challenges
Kaj Roth (Staff)
There are some good things about ChinaWhite´s new album "Challenges" like the cool hammond organ parts, the majestic intro "In the beginning" and the influences from Rush and Genesis where they have borrowed from but I don´t mind. But this Dutch progrock band also has a less good side to show up on this 66 minute long album, the drumsound is way too poor and the singer would fit better in a stoner rock band than singing prog – Don Feltges just isn´t the right person for the job here. They do not only lend musical ideas from Rush and Genesis, guitarist Peter Cox also stole the riff from Fall on me by Kings X on the track "Better than you" or perhaps its just a coincidence? Nah, I will never listen to this again.
CHINAWHITE – CHALLENGES – Rock Company – 7,0
Now we are glad to inform you that 2 albums you can buy directly from Rock Company. It starts with our 1997 debut EP A Dragon´s Birth (CD is now out of print) and the 2008 download only album Demo´s 1990-2005. Both albums are available at an unbeatable price (with the holiday sale making it even more silly not to buy it).
And if you prefer, you can download just the tracks you want. On the audio page a sample of all tracks can be heard.
CHINAWHITE – CHALLENGES (B-) Rock Company, 2009
11 tracks, RT: 1:06:04
[ https://www.chinawhite.nl/ ]
[ http://www.myspace.com/chinawhitenl ]
[ http://www.rockcompany.nl/ ]
This one’s been out for about a year now (sorry fro the delay!). I first "found" Chinawhite back around the time of 2000’s BREATHE FIRE… and I was surprised to learn there weren’t any releases between it and CHALLENGES. The Dutch quintet — Don Feltges (Joe Stump) on lead vocals, Peter Cox on guitar and vocals, Sander Stappers (Sengaia) on bass, Rolf "Fuchs" Vossen on keyboards, and Hans in ‘t Zandt (Vengeance, Mad Max) on drums — plays a somewhat quirky type of Hammond B3-infused melodic/prog rock, with old Uriah Heep being a decent starting point for comparison’s sake. Or maybe a more AOR/ melodic version of early Dream Theater, with Jon Lord on keyboards?!
The sound is hard to pin down, and the album is a grower, so it took me a while to get my head wrapped around it. The disc’s clear highlight is Cox’s tasty guitar work; he can bolster a seemingly pedestrian track by pulling a nice solo out of thin air, and there are enough meaty riffs here to please air guitar enthusiasts. The B3 is overused at times, particularly in "I Am I" (not a Queensryche cover!) where it’s used to fill a lot of spaces in the music. I’ve got nothing against the B3, mind you — it is used perfectly over a dark, buzzy riff in "Stranger," and adds a nifty Deep Purple-meets-Black Sabbath air to "My Venus Rising’s" spooky intro — but too much is distracting. Fuchs can also tickle the ivories quite nicely, with "Dreams Of A Child" and the excellent "Better Than You" showing off his piano work. The latter, its riff-tastic follow-up "Inside," and driving closer "Wings Of The Wind" (minus the final four minutes of oceanfront sound effects…) are probably the album’s best tracks. If
a few of the lengthier songs were pared down (this feels more like a 50-minute album, not the 66-minute behemoth it is), and the mix was more level (in "Stranger" the cymbals practically scream at you and the vocals are too low) CHALLENGES would definitely rate a "B" or higher.
– Tim Wadzinski
China White – Challenges – Rock Company – Chinawhite’s album has been out a while too, but I still see it mentioned. unfortunately I cannot be so kind to this record as I have been some others. It just doesn’t stack up quality wise to what else is on the market. The production is horrible. Badly mixed for starters. The vocals are way down in the mix and the keyboards way up. The drums are pedestrian and the guitars too thin. Then there are the songs – there are four tracks here around the 8 minute mark and there simply isn’t the substance to make them work for that length of time. I guess the band is trying to add a progressive edge, but you have to have the songs and hooks in place first before you can go off any tangents. And for a vocal band, you don’t hear one word of singing until 7 minutes into the album after a horribly slow 4 minute intro piece. I’d like to comment more, but the mix is just so bad I can’t hear the melodies as they should be heard and the loud organ/keys are really annoying me. MR is thanked in the liner notes and guitarist Peter Cox is a terrific guy, but I simply can’t hear the album well enough to talk more favorably about it.
Andrew McNeice – 29%
Hit the notes…
Those who have seen us live know that our guitar player Peter likes to rock out. So enjoy some fretwork from him he did:
7 String riff The Storm Rages On)
Tapping Guitar Solo
The idea had been floating around for a while, but a recent trip to Austria finalized the perfect stage for a new video! So welcome How Many Miles. The audio is of course available via our 2009 CD Challenges. Buy it at our shop.
Underground Empire, July 2010, Walter
Chinawhite´s album Challenges proves an extremely contentful piece of rock music, which stretches the sound of dominating 70’s hardrock, over innumerable ProgRock quotations, up to Metal in melodic and progressive design. CHINAWHITE use “historical” sounds, particularly the omnipresent Hammond, so I keep making comparisons with URIAH HEEP, and also DEEP PURPLE. One can also call RUSH (covered in early periods of the career) regarding the Prog accents as influence. The material animates however not only through this, but also invites to join in on the groove and occasionally also to really rock. The presented work is housed in one extremely tasteful Digipack, and is powerfully fun.
Read The Music Is Out There by Nicky Baldrian here.
The origins of Chinawhite date back to 1989 and their first actual album, Breathe Fire, dates from the year 2000. The band also had quite an amount of demo-tapes recordings which surfaced on their follow up album A Dragon’s Birth in 2001 and which contained all previous released EP’s and demo’s. In 2007 they started with the recording of Challenges which was released in 2009.
The style of music is on the hard rock side of progressive rock, heavy riffs with Hammond organ and melodic guitar solos. Music for fans of Deep Purple, Uriah Heep, Threshold, Vanden Plas, Saga and Rush.
In The Beginning is an almost completely instrumental song with keyboard sounds, a mellow, ambient, slow build up to the start of the album. Challenges – Dreams Of A Child kicks in with a heavy riff with thick Hammond sounds and really Deep Purple like. They stick to that same riff for a bit too long but finally after three minutes the vocal parts start. That is also the place where my interest is heavily disturbed, the vocals are mixed in terribly. The vocals are not out of tune but they do not sound powerful and they are mixed in very softly. Sadly this situation stays throughout the whole album – the instruments sound heavy but in the back you can hear a voice desperately trying to be heard. When the solos start it is better, great guitar solo and the build up very good.
My Venus Rising is of the same length structure, more solo parts for the keyboard. Stranger is a rock song with more groove in it and that reminds me of another Dutch band, Splinter. How Many Miles sounds very like eighties AOR with an Iron Maiden like guitar solo, sadly it falls apart in the bad production. A Hammond opening, like Don Airey for and a galloping rhythm like Iron Maiden on Better Than You. Apart from The Storm Rages On the rest of the songs are pretty standard and not bad at all, apart from the bad production. The Storm Rages On reaches the eight minuter barrier again and has got some more strange structures and odd changes, Dream Theater like.
The style of music that is presented by Chinawhite is completely to my personal taste and the bands named as influences are all ranked high on my list. The songs and choice of instruments are also exactly what I normally listen to but this is one of those cases where the quality of the production ruins it all. As stated the vocals are mixed in terrible, the instrumental parts are not bad but the sound is very raw, almost demo in sound. When I heard Challenges – Dreams Of A Child kick in loud I loved it, but when the vocal part starts it all fell apart. I hope the next album will have a better production because then you can count me in.
Conclusion: 5 out of 10