It's interesting to follow the progress, or lack thereof, that some bands make. Since 2004, Hydrogyn has been a band that has tried to market the hotness of their frontwoman Julie Westlake, hoping that it would overshadow their ultimately boring and clandestine music. Album after album, there's been nothing but photos and videos of Westlake to promote the band, and nothing behind it musically to fully capture any interest her looks might have enticed. By contrast, a band like Benedictum is also fronted by an appealing woman named Veronica Freeman, and yet the focus with them is always on the tunes and not Freeman's looks. Not surprisingly, they are a lot farther along, respected and known than Hydrogyn.
The reality though is it doesn't matter what this band does with their imagery, because the tunes are not there now and really haven't been there from the start. PRIVATE SESSIONS is everything that Lacuna Coil or Evanescence would be if they were trying to record something to solve insomnia. This is a snorefest of a release - boring in every aspect of its delivery. Songs like "I Don't Know How" are just flat out boring. As a vocalist, Westlake has a very clean voice like Amy Lee, but she just doesn't have the delivery to give her voice any life at all. Listening to songs like "Scream" just leaves you bored and wishing the song would hurry up and end so the next song can start. Unfortunately, each song following has the same effect thanks to Westlake's dynamic, yet lifeless voice. She's like a cardboard cutout - there's so little feeling to her voice that you just end up bored.
Westlake is not the problem though. While her vocals are not all that interesting, that factor is magnified by dull musicianship backing her. Husband and guitarist Jeff Westlake has seemingly declined a bit in his playing. Previous albums found his guitar playing to be far more dynamic and full. That's not to say it's all bad. His riff on "Creeper" is pretty robust and rocking. That said though, there's not a ton of dynamic energy coming from Jeff, drummer Joe Migs and bassist Chris Sammons throughout the entire disc.
PITRIFF RATING - 31/100 - Dull musicianship and subpar songs plague PRIVATE SESSIONS from Hydrogyn. It's been almost a decade and this band has failed to capture much of an audience. Maybe it's time they accept it. Maybe not...I don't know. Whatever they do in the future, it won't be impacted on positively by what they've done now. PRIVATE SESSIONS is a great listen on those nights when you can't get to sleep. It'll get you over that...quick!