Redemption - Hydrogyn
The band name may ring a few bells if you are a regular reader of the Dr. Music website or a person who keeps a close watch on the Billboard charts. The band’s 2006 Michael Wagener-produced Bombshell album landed on three different Billboard charts. In 2010 their Judgement release also found its way to Billboard, and in 2012 their Private Sessions release took Album Of The Year honors on the Dr. Music website. For those of you who are familiar with those albums and the band’s brand of melodic hard rock led by the beauty and voice of their former singer Julie, this ain’t your mama’s Hydrogyn.
The band introduces new singer Erica Parrott into the fold with this Redemption release, and it makes for relevant changes to the band’s overall sound. Julie provided an image for the band with her sex appeal, but also had a booming voice that landed comparisons to talents like Amy Lee (Evanescence) and Lzzy Hale (Halestorm). Parrott comes into the band with a more gritty approach. She fits in with they guys in the band instead of overshadowing them, and delivers a much heavier blow to your ears. With a bit of a creepiness and an incredibly strong throaty delivery, Parrott sounds like the illegitimate spawn of Marilyn Manson and Sass Jordan. But make no mistake, her influence on the band’s sound is very legitimate.
This is heavy.
If you know of Hydrogyn as a melodic, sing-along rock band, I think it’s safe to say things have changed. These songs snap out of the gate with a fury previously unseen by the band. I found the whole album to have a very live feel, with the exception of the lead off track, “Fixir”. Perhaps the band wanted Parrott’s introduction to be front and center in the mix for this one, but I hear a separation between the music and the voice on this otherwise strong track. With the title track second in the set, Parrott and the band sound like they are rubbing shoulders in the studio and that partnership never lets up throughout the rest of the album. I believe some of the best examples of the band moving together come with the heaviest songs. Tracks like “Tailspin” and “Devil God Devil” sound like an expertly recorded live concert with excellent guitar and vocal work and an incessant groove. The closest the band gets to their more melodic past is possibly with “Down In Flames” or “Hey Ho”, but even these songs are owned by Parrott and her vocal muscle. Ironically, the album ends with “Jenny”, an acoustic track that many will call a ballad. I find the seriousness and the haunting tone of this song to be just as heavy as almost everything else on the album. “Jenny” is a brilliant song because of its ability to create weight with context and soulful approach rather than manic guitars and rumbling bass drums.
Between Parrott’s vocal attack and Jeff Westlake’s grinding guitar work, this takes the band from the Bon Jovi box to the Megadeth box. As you might expect, this set is a bit less accessible than the more melodic rock of the band’s past, but with time spent this has the possibility of being put on a favorites list. It’s always been my belief that instant gratification is short lived, while working and nurturing something long term will bear fruit for a lifetime.