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The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world
Review-Dimino-Old-Habits-Die-Hard--2015

DIMINO - OLD HABITS DIE HARD

FRONTIERS RECORDS | Release Date: July 3 2015

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Tracklisting: Never Again – Rockin In The City – I Can’t Stop Loving You – The Rains About To Fall – Even Now – Tears Will Fall – Mad As Hell – Sweet Sensation – Tonight’s The Night- The Quest – Stones By The River


On a recent visit to LA a friend gave me a signed copy of the only Angel album I never owned on vinyl – ‘Live Without a Net’ so imagine my surprise when vocalist Frank Dimino, soon after, released his first solo album a mere 35 years after that release.
Back in the day before the internet, and god forbid social media, Angel was a band that somehow impossibly slipped under most radars, especially outside of the US, tagged as they were in those pre-genre defined days as ‘Pomp Rock’ (possibly the worst genre tag ever especially at the time of Punk) along with (in my opinion) the vastly inferior Styx and Kansas but also bands like Queen and even Magnum.  ‘Pomp Rock’ it seemed was music that was grandiose and overblown but none of the bands labelled really had too much in common.


35 years though is a rather long time, and if you expect ‘Old Habits Die Hard’ to take up where Angel’s 1979 masterpiece ‘Sinful’ left off you will be sorely disappointed, at least stylistically. What you will love is that Frank Dimino has produced a great Classic/Melodic Hard Rock album that sounds both fresh and reintroduces you to those distinctive vocals. Add to that a great list of Las Vegas-based musicians including guest slots by former bandmates Punky Meadows and Barry Brandt  alongside names like Ricky Medlocke, Oz Fox, Eddie Ojeda and others and you have something rather special.


‘Old Habits Die Hard’ opens with ‘Never Again’ which must set minds at rest that this isn’t going to be either the slick melodic rock of ‘Sinful’ or the more Progressive style of earlier Angel releases. What it is, is a song that sounds distinctly rooted in 70’s Classic Rock almost like something from Aerosmith’s twilight years rocker ‘Rock in a Hard Place’. What it does is affirm that Dimino’s vocals are rather undimished despite the decades that have passed.    


First single and video ‘Rockin’ in the City’ (love it when you know exactly where in Vegas it was filmed!)  takes on board a more contemporary guitar sound but still more than nods at that Classic Rock construction that isn’t a million miles away from Dio’s solo work. ‘I Can’t Stop Loving You’ has a certain Angel-like construction and you can’t shake that as the keys sweep in, and indeed there are other Angel-like glimpses throughout but nothing that comes as close to the overall vibe.


‘The Rains About to Fall’ is a simple Hard Rocker that acts as a great showcase for Dimino’s vocal without really setting the blue touch paper alight as a song; better is ‘Even Now’ which both slows down proceedings and  takes us back to basics with an emotive vocal that is allowed to breath with the stripped-back accompaniment.  


‘Tears Will Fall’ rides a great big melodic groove and adds a great riff to underpin another soaring vocal performance and really makes a mark, almost making you wonder as the guitar wails what the album would be like with an earthier-bluesier feel. As it stands there are glimpses of Angel’s earlier work enough to appease the die-hards.


‘Mad as Hell’ adds immediacy and rocks hard; whilst ‘Sweet Sensation’ turns back the dial to a time that seems contemporary with when Angel trod the boards but with an almost Foreigner feel and Angel-like phrasing. ‘Tonight’s the Night’ that follows is another vocal masterclass with Frank underlining the versatility of his voice.


The album closes with a couple of our favorites: ‘The Quest’ really nails the 70’s vibe with another fast-paced Classic Rocker that offers a great vocal riding an impressive guitar and organ. The breakdown adds a little touch of Angel, as does the ‘On Earth as it is in Heaven-like’ organ breakdown that follows it.  


Closer ‘Stones By the River’ adds the curve-ball – a bluesy slow number that shows Dimino’s versatility. It may seem a little at odds to the majority of the album but for us at least it seems to shout rather clearly that after 35 years there is almost certainly another, and possibly rather distinctly different, album waiting to rear its head from Mr. D.


With songs this good the only real mystery is why Frank waited so long…  Not only that let’s keep those fingers crossed that like busses another couple comes along sooner rather than later. You can’t help but love this album…

 

 

 

by Mark Rockpit

 


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