The Kentucky based rockers Hydrogyn are back with their latest effort, Private Sessions. Hydrogyn was formed back in 2004 by lead guitarist Jeff Westlake, and since have released several albums and toured extensively. Private Sessions is the band's fifth full length album, and the attempt to follow up a very strong 2010 release in Judgement which broke the band through many barriers.
Hydrogyn is led by lead singer extraordinaire, Julie Westlake. Just like all their previous albums, she delivers a formidable and energetic performance. This is also the first album, since their debut, not to feature Julie in a provocatively vulnerable position on the album cover. Of course fans do enjoy the eye candy; it certainly builds more merit to the musical quality of the album being the selling point of this release. This is a good thing, since the musical talents of Jeff Westlake and company is something which should not be ignored or discredited by sultry marketing schemes.
It does seem with this album that Hydrogyn is taking more of a safe, almost “pop rock” approach to many of the tracks on this album. There are several tracks with synthesized background sounds, as well as overdone chorus lines with multiple harmonies. Their predecessor Judgement was arguably much more of an edgy, hard core sound which included many grinding guitar riffs. The songs on this album are centered more around the synthesized melodies and less on the riffs. This happens so often that you rarely hear Jeff Westlake burst out very many shredding guitar solos which he is certainly capable of doing. He is holding back for the sake of making a socially appealing album, which is entirely uncalled for in the Metal world.
That being said, one redeeming factor which does play a key part in this album is the vocal talents of Julie. Even through the songs presented are melodic and bland, she manages to carry each track with some very emotional and creative vocals. A perfect example of this is track “Don’tcha Walk Away” which begins with a slow and sensual introduction, then breaks into a powerful and theatrical vocal scheme which carries the entire track. Even though she does a great job of carrying each track with potent vocals, she unfortunately appears to be holding back as well based on previous efforts.
Overall, Private Sessions ends up being somewhat of a disappointment simply because there is too much melodic and pop laden musicianship displayed. Hydrogyn should be pulling out more creativity from their Southern Rock roots to create fiery and exciting music. Private Sessions may turn out to be a public humiliation for a band which is capable of so much more.
Official Band Website