Thursday, July 2, 2015

Album Review: Dimino - Old Habits Die Hard

Angel is one of those bands that you often hear included in lists of bands from the old days that should have been bigger than they were. For whatever reason, they didn't achieve massive stardom, and the years since have been spent with the band's passionate fans trying to keep their name alive. Myself, I've never had the chance to dig that far back and check out the band, so I can't comment on whether they really are one of the best bands that you've (probably) never heard of. All I know is that Dimino is the new project from their erstwhile singer, with this new album that features a slew of musicians to come along and help Frank Dimino return to the scene.

"Never Again" opens the record with a rock swagger that feels straight from the time when Angel was at their peak. Paul Crook's influence comes through with backing vocals that could have come off of any of the Meat Loaf record he's worked on, but the song itself is lacking. Dimino's voice sounds good for someone who was making records 40 years ago, but he makes the ill-advised decision to spend too much time in his diminishing higher register, when it's his normal voice that is best. Coupled with a chorus that is nothing but the title being sung again and again, it's not the best way to start off a record.

"Rocking In The City" is better served for that purpose, with a bit more energy, some beautiful organs swirling in the background, and a chorus that has just a bit more of a catchy melody to it. You're not going to confuse this with pop music, but there's more of a hook here than on the opening number, which makes it so much better a song.

The rest of the album follows a similar line, with plenty of old-school rock riffs, and vocal lines that don't really add much to the experience. Dimino does an admirable job behind the mic, but his voice clearly isn't what it was when he was younger, lacking the bite and high end that he's trying to fit into the songs. When he keeps himself in check, like on the ballad "Even Now", the results are really good. But too often he's trying to sing like he's thirty years younger, and that only serves to highlight what isn't there anymore.

But I could forgive a vocalist who isn't at the top of their game if the songs were good enough, and that's where this record falls short. With all the people who helped make this record, I would have expected more from these songs. It's competent hard rock, but that's about it. There aren't riffs or solos that are going to make you take notice, and Dimino's vocal lines are all simplistic and easily forgettable, relying on adding background vocals to make them sound bigger.

Redemption stories are always welcome, but I don't think Dimino is going to be one of them. It's nice to have him back, but this record isn't the right vehicle to remind people of him, or of Angel. It's a record that old-time fans will enjoy for the nostalgia factor, but that's about it. Hopefully, now that he has his comeback out of his system, Dimino can focus on making a record that is worthy of his supposed status.

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