Private Sessions

1. Something To Say
2. Forbidden Kind
3. Scream
4. I Don't Know How
5. Heated Nights
6. Creeper
7. Don'tcha Walk Away
8. Roseline's Song
9. Feeling
10. Un Monde Perdu
11. It Doesn't Matter
12. Alone (Bonus Track)

Julie Westlake (Vocals)
Jeff Westlake (Guitar)
Chris Sammons (Bass & screams)
Joe Migz (Drums)

Best Served With Volume (2004)
Bombshell (2006)
Strip'Em Blind Live! (2007)
Deadly Passions (2008)
Judgement (2010)
Phase 1 (digital release 2011)

Davo Chandler (sound)

Anthony Dura (production)
Patrick Liotard (production)
Jeff Westlake (production)
recorded at Ridgeline Studio (Ashland, Kentucky) and Peek Studio (Boisseron, France)

Released 20/4-2012
Reviewed 27/5-2012

rival records

It has happened a lot since 2008 when Daniel acknowledged 'Deadly Passions' and said it was an album that actually felt too short, in contrast to most albums Hallowed review. Instead of a Kitchen we find two new faces in the band, the band has made two releases and beside a solo album, vocalist Julie Westlake has also manage to stay ill for almost a full year. But well and ready, and with a line up carved in stone (for at least this album) the band has recently released their fifth full length studio album and this time the honor has come to me to do the review.

The first thing that strikes me is that we can't possible stick to the three similar bands from Daniels review as 'Deadly Passions' listed Rhapsody, Hammerfall and Metalium whilst 'Private Sessions' is clearly more related to female fronted alternative bands like The Birthday massacre and Lacuna Coil. In other words, the band has moved a bit from the traditional heavy/power metal towards a modern hard rock sound and the strange thing is that while I feel the band has entangled themselves in a clearly morealternative and heavier sound, at the same time I feel this is more radio- and hit friendly than before. 'Private Sessions' feels like it's the seed that will bring forth a gorgeous flower, if it only had a drop of water this flower would bloom and amaze the world.

I'm not saying that Hydrogyn hasn't had their bit of success, but they still haven't manage to get that real breakthrough yet despite their obvious potential and the possibilities has been within reach. Maybe the reason is their sound and musical direction? If that's the case, I see no reason for a further hold-back as the sound has been somewhat adjusted for this album and along with the cleaner, clearer and more powerful production on this album I would say that this album definitely sounds better than anything the Americans has managed to do before. The songs are more striking and feels easier to connect with as they get in to your head faster without feeling too repetitive due to the more "complicated" nature of the music. I also find a track that reminds me a lot of The Bond theme For Your Eyes Only (Roseline's Song) and at the very end they do a song with French lyrics (Un Monde Perdu), which feels like an interesting choice.

The new addition is the quite conspicuous keyboards they've added as an element in some songs. There are, however, still plenty of songs with "the old" sound - with which I mean the quite straight forward heavy metal sound they've established themselves with. The twelve tracks on this album takes us 45 minutes to get through and it's pretty noticeable these songs has been written during a long period of time because there is quite a lot of variation between the songs. The biggest common denominator is Julie Westlakes voice, which I've seen celebrated a bit here and there all over the Internet as I've researched the band. However, I can't say I agree with them fully. I personally think Julie tries to hard to sound good to actually succeed and her voice ends up feeling strained instead of sensational. I'm not saying she isn't a good vocalist, perhaps even a great vocalist, but she doesn't deliver that shocking sensation that blows you away which was something I almost expected due to how praised her voice was on the Hydrogyn website as well as the album information sheet and a couple of reviews I've read. I'm guessing the people that's written these things are easily affected and has fallen for the blonde's good looks and let this affect their judgement, or something like that. My point is, however, that all though she's a good vocalist she's not amazing or anything - just good.

The biggest problem I find with this album comes from how the songs are arranged in the playlist. All the best songs of the album comes in the first half, which means the second half is noticeable less interesting than the first. The first two songs, Something To Say and Forbidden Kind, as well as the fourth and fifth song, called I Don't Know How and Heated Nights, are my favorites and all though the album have a high overall standard, the total impression gets somewhat negatively affected by the fact that the enthusiasm calms on the second half.

Seen to the bigger picture, I still think Hydrogyn succeeds to maintain a high standard on 'Private Sessions' and it's only a shame they don't manage to get a second half as good as the first, because then they might have ended up with a second album on the exclusive list of reviewed albums with a score on six or more. Now, what they've done is an album that's really good, but not really that sensational one that I think most of us had hoped for. But it's still an album that will do the job pretty good anyway.




Label: Rapid Fire Entertainment/Music Buy mail/Connecting Music
Three similar bands: The Birthday massacre/Lacuna Coil/After Forever
Rating: HHHHHHH (5/7)
Reviewer: Caj Källmalm

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