Veteran rocker Frank Dimino is best known as vocalist for the rock band Angel, who were discovered by Gene Simmons in the 70’s. During the band’s prime, from ‘75-‘81 the band released five studio and one live album for Casablanca Records.
Dimino reactivated the band in late ‘98 and has continued to play live and make music as Angel until the present day, but it is his new solo album Old Habits Die Hard for Frontiers Records that has all those Angel fans talking and for damn good reason.
You see, not only is Old Habits Die Hard the best thing Dimino has done in decades, it may just be the best thing he has ever done period and will go down in history as one of his career defining moments.
Although time has aged Dimino’s vocal cords into something that very closely resembles Biff Byford from Saxon, if it is humanly possible that little extra rasp makes him sound even better than he did in his 70’s prime, allowing him to knock out the vocals for every song in less than 90 minutes. Sometimes in one take.
The bulk of the material for the album was written by Dimino, Oz Fox, Paul Crook and Jeff Labansky, with guest contributions by Eddie Ojeda, Danny Miranda, John Miceli, Justin Avery and Jeff Duncan, as well as Dimino’s former Angel band mates Barry Brandt on “Even Now” and Punky Meadows on opener “Never Again.”
Speaking of “Never Again,” it is only fitting that it opens the album, seeing as it was the very first riff written for it. It is a hard rocking anthem that sounds exactly like the NWOBHM, more specifically Saxon, while “I Can’t Stop Loving You” has a groove similar to “Judgment Day” by Whitesnake.
That Saxon vibe continues on into tracks like lead single & video “Rockin’ in the City” and “The Quest,” which are an amalgamation of Dio era Rainbow, Saxon and Deep Purple. In fact, “The Rain’s About to Fall” and “Mad As Hell” might be two of the best songs Saxon never wrote.
From there the album takes a bit of a left turn with “Tonight’s The Night,” which draws inspiration from the Rock N Roll sound of the 50’s, with a little “Whip It” by Devo in the chorus for good measure, while “Sweet Sensation,” which is available for streaming, features a riff that is the distant cousin of “Dirty Love” by Thunder.
To bring things full circle, “Tears Will Fall” and “Even Now” are the closest to Dimino’s work in Angel and could have been on the first two albums, while “Stones in the River” closes the album by channeling the bluesy southern rock of the Black Crowes.
Here’s the bottom line. Old Habits Die Hard is a melodic can’t afford to miss album that will re-establish Frank Dimino as a musical force to be reckoned with.
Rating: 8.5 out of 10