After recording many EP’s and the album Breathe Fire in 2000, Challenges is the second full-length effort of Dutch hard rockers Chinawhite. Nowadays the band consists of Peter Cox (guitar, vocals), Don Feltges (lead vocals), Paul Roefs (bass guitar) Rolf Vossen (keyboards) and Hans in ‘t Zandt (drums) of which three members playing already more than twenty years together. Thus, you may expect some quality here. The eleven songs on Challenges vary in length from almost four to over eight minutes, all together more than one hour of classic hard rock music. You can describe their musical style as melodic heavy rock influenced by seventies and eighties bands like Deep Purple, Uriah Heep, Van Halen and Whitesnake. However, I also noticed influences of AOR-music.
I listened several times to the eleven compositions. On the one hand, all songs are quite catchy but on the other hand, they lack originality. The band plays very tight and there’s nothing wrong with the guitar licks and the Hammond-solos, but sadly, I also have to conclude that the production has not been done properly. Don Feltges screams and shouts a lot, but his voice is hardly audible. It sounds as if the guitar and the Hammond try to drown the singer who’s singing in another room. The instrumental parts are well performed, but that’s not enough to call it a good album after all.
Chinawhite is a very enthusiastic band playing nice songs, but next time they need a producer who’s able to lift the group to a higher sound quality level. Challenges certainly is not an album I’ll play a lot. For the moment, I think Chinawhite is a typical live band playing a nice thirty-minute set just before the headliner…
** Cor Smeets (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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