It's late at night - OK, very early morning - and I'm flicking through a pile of CD's up for review – a bit of skatecore, heavy rock, a couple of AOR albums – decisions, decisions; which one to do, when all of a sudden this rather stonking track comes belting out of the speakers and there it was, the one for me.
China are a Swiss five piece who've been around the music scene for a long time shifting through line up changes, stops and starts, 'best of' releases and varying sounds since 1985 but, finally, mainstay and original member, guitarist Claudio Matteo has stopped buggering around and got this band into a period of stability, harnessed all their talent into a cracking bunch of tunes and they are now getting ready to release their fifth studio album on March 28th this year.
And what an album it is! For anyone who's not yet heard this band, if you like your Rock served up in a big, dirty, guitar driven, hard assed wall of sound then this is for you.
'Light Up The Dark' blitzes into a hard rocking mesh of monster riffs and thumping drumbeats, 'Hey Yo' conjures up memories of Quireboys and The Wildhearts thrown into a walloping mix of high tempo sleazy US blues then 'She's So Hot' stomps its feet, wails and screams in some fired up unadulterated rock and roll and I swear I caught a hint of Diamond Dave in those vocal harmonies!
They may be a bunch of Swiss guys but you'd never guess it, China have captured some serious Americana within their music as 'Girl On My Screen' steams along tipping its hat to early 'Crue while 'Lonely Rider' takes a more melodic AOR path without losing a beat, a track to get you singing along and swigging that bottle of Jack 'til it's done.
Not being a ballad type of girl, I was a little taken aback by the fact I rather enjoyed 'Gates Of Heaven', a track which eases gently along with almost a hint of country keeping pace alongside some heartfelt guitars until 'On My Way' swings us back into action with some uplifting grooving and infectious beats bringing in a nice switch of tempo and feel to the album.
'Stay' is just a gorgeous swaying little number stuffed full of melodies and harmonies lulling us into a false sense of security until they kick back into the much darker, sleazy sound of 'Deadly Sweet', singer Eric St. Michaels throwing some serious venom into his voice. Normal service is resumed for the rocking 'Trapped In The City' and 'Right Here, Right Now' and we finish with the stamping, guitar riddled 'Flesh And Bone'.
This is a seriously fine rock and roll album bursting full to the seams with great tracks, and using the fine production talents of Chris Johnson (Buckcherry, Evanescence) and Michael Parnin (Kings X) to the full, 'Light Up The Dark' will be the one to thrust CHINA to the fore again after a long time lost in the mist.
Get the shots lined up, volume at 10, leather jacket at the ready, then let your hair down and enjoy!