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China Light Up The Dark

Light Up The Dark
by Grigoris Chronis at 01 March 2010, 10:03 PM

A new CHINA album after…how many years, really? 1995’s “Natural Groove” was the last cut heard from the Swiss hardrockers while it’s been 21 years now from the highly-acclaimed “Sign In The Sky” days, and we should inform the readers Universal Switzerland released the “The Very Best Of China” (2008) compilation featuring three brand new tracks (all of them featured here). Well, you can’t teach an ol’ dog new tricks, right? Well, in the “Light Up The Dark” case maybe these hounds seem to have been given some extra lessons in the musicmaking class.

When CHINA begun a promising career back in 1988 with “China” it was Claudio Matteo striking hard his riff and solo works, among many things CHINA became famous for. Being the only surviving member of the original lineup – singer Eric St. Michaels and bassist Brian “Beat” Kofmehl joined for the follow-up 1989 masterpiece – Claudio is the one having seen all of CHINA’s ups and downs throughout the years. Hence – maybe – the maturity/wisdom flowing from the new disc’s numbers. Of course, “Light Up The Dark” has its asskickin’ moments too but the key factor here should be the - modern or lunar - rockin’ vibe floating in this recent album.

The same-title track storms in and it’s tome for some hardrockin’ shakin to the spitfiring guitars, drums and bass, an ideal companion to your Saturday club nights. “Hey Yo” is the kind of song I’d never be ready to listen to from a band like CHINA. The melodic bridge/chorus is OK but the guitars sound – this goes for the whole album, really – is too fuzzy/modern for the band’s core fan base, I’m afraid. “She’s Hot” is groovy and should leave no hip unshaken, while “Girl On The Screen” is a killer rollin’ thunder resembling to CHINA’s best moments off the first two albums (or – for the younger fans - to GOTTHARD’s dynamic likes). “Lonely Rider” is as American as it can get, with a slice of ‘just US Rock’ aura in the vocal harmonies and basic riff…leading us to “Gates Of Heaven”’s emotional breeze; a slow cut bringing on memories of sweet power ballads in the late 80s/early 90s but with the late BON JOVI/JOURNEY sonic aesthetics.

“On My Way” is interesting but more of a ‘happy’ number in the CHEAP TRICK way - than I can get from a band like CHINA, haha; Marc Storace (the legendary KROKUS singer) sings backing vocals here. “Stay” is again in this ‘Rock mode on’ mature e.g. WARRANT path with a vintage wah-wah solo shining. “Deadly Sweet” boasts a weird riff and alike vocal harmonies, quite ‘grunge’-isque for my taste; the solo is awesome, though. “Trapped In The City” brings forth the in-your-face riffing and pounding creating a boozin’ mood again. “Right Here, Right Now” impedes things a little bit sending 70s-to-90s shivers down your spine and – surprisingly – can hold as an attraction for the whole album. “Flesh And Bone”’s groovy tempo says goodbye in a fresh way and 45-50 minutes has passed by leading to a diverse conclusion that…

CHINA has progressed or matured or settled down or whatever you like to name it, in this new album. Erik’s vocals are warmer and less rebellious, the guitars rock hard but also ride free being applicable to all Rock fans, vintage, typical or contemporary, building an album that gradually won my ears since – in a way – you match the CD’s criteria; we’ve also grown up, like it or not. “Light Up The Dark” resembles to a long lost friend: we ‘ve not met in years, each one’s built his own beliefs all this time but what counts is that the feeling is here and it’s good to spend some time with good company again, no questions asked.

3 Star Rating

  1. Light Up The Dark
  2. Hey Yo
  3. She's So Hot
  4. Girl On My Screen
  5. Lonely Rider
  6. Gates Of Heaven
  7. On My Way
  8. Stay
  9. Deadly Sweet
  10. Trapped In The City
  11. Right Here, Right Now
  12. Flesh And Bone
Claudio Matteo -Guitars
Eric St. Michaels - Vocals
Beat Kofmehl - Bass
Billy La Pietra - Drums
Mack Schildknecht - Guitars
Record Label: Universal Music Switzerland


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Edited 05 February 2023

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