|Musical Style: Hard Rock||Produced By: Neil Rambaldi|
|Record Label: Secret Port||Country Of Origin: USA|
|Year Released: 2001||Artist Website: Rivera Bomma|
|Tracks: 11||Rating: 65%|
|Running Time: 50:42|
Rivera Bomma is a talented duo from New Jersey that consists of guitarist Rod Rivera and vocalist Johnny Bomma. Rivera began studying classical guitar and flamenco before discovering the likes of Ritchie Blackmore, Michael Schenker and Santana, incorporating all of those influences in his playing on the bands 2001 full length debut Invisible Force. Bomma got his start in the metal band Hades with Dan Lorenzo, performing on the album Saviorself, and is a terrific talent with a particularly strong and smooth sounding classic tenor voice. Several years ago when Rivera was recording a solo album, his producer introduced him to Bomma, and the rest, as they say, is history. The two recorded Invisible Force shortly thereafter, an album covering a variety of styles ranging from power metal, melodic hard rock, power ballads, acoustic and instrumental based numbers while incorporating a bit of jazz and flamenco.
While production values would benefit from a bit of big budget polish, the all around sound of Invisible Force is not bad for an independent release. The rhythm guitar could come across with a bit more edge and crispness. An element of muddiness prevents the rhythm section from always standing out in the mix. The lead guitar sounds clear and clean.
Please note that Invisible Force was initially released independently with a cover featuring red and white lettering over a black background. Eventually picked up by Secret Port records, the album was re-issued with two demo-like bonus tracks, “The Holy One” and “Revelation”, which were re-recorded by the band for its sophomore effort I Am God. The independent version of Invisible Force, of which this review is based, also includes the ballad “Give Me Your Love” which did not make it onto the Secret Port re-issue.
The albums instrumental based title track opens to sweeping keyboards that after a minute and a half are underscored by a piano.
The power metal of "Victory" gets underway to a double bass driven riff, the song generating a plethora of energetic momentum as it advances on a catchy chorus proceeding at an upbeat tempo. The instrumental passage that follows, however, opens to a lengthy keyboard solo that gives way to only a few brief seconds of lead guitar. I do not know about you, but I would much rather hear Rivera cut loose as opposed to the keyboard noodling we end up with. As its title implies, “Victory” deals with victory in the life of a Christian:
You got to fly like an eagle
You have to shine like a star
Dream like a hero
If you want to go very far
The Lord will see you through
Your dreams will all come true
Introduced to a drum solo, "Tarot Reader" moves forward to a hard rocking mix of rhythm guitar and organ before it slows to a quietly played guitar line for its first verse. As the song regains its momentum, the rhythm guitar returns to bolster a powerfully delivered chorus backed by an organ. "Tarot Reader" gives Rivera a better change to display his talent with over thirty seconds of bluesy lead guitar work.
The first-rate power ballad "Cry Of Love" comes across with a slight Scorpions feel. After an acoustic guitar carries the song through its first verse, the rhythm guitar kicks in as it picks up in pace and moves on to a chorus with a catchy radio friendly hook. Rivera comes through once again, his solo beginning slowly until he cuts loose with several seconds of emotionally played lead guitar work. Bomma really stretches and shines as well. “Cry Of Love” is a song about true love:
When I look in your eyes
The way they touch me inside
Light the way back home
Into your arms again
Why do we do the things we do
When love conquers all and sees us through
Why fade away the things we knew
When I’m … in love with you
The instrumental "Eclectic" is exactly that! The songs acoustically driven first part, Zephyer", gives way after a minute to "Tempest I", a fast paced and upbeat hard rocker with a neo-classical feel. The song makes an abrupt transition to the blues flavored "Morning Rain" that in turn segues to the Spanish guitar and Latin beat of "Spanish Ecstacy". Following an explosion, "Tempest II" closes things out to more neo-classical riffing similar to "Tempest I".
Progressing to a hard rocking mix of rhythm guitar and organ, "No Win Situation" crests as it attains an energetic non-stop hook filled chorus. I really enjoy how the song slows to a piano before Rivera furnishes thirty seconds of the albums most exciting lead guitar work. “No Win Situation” points the way to salvation:
I am your Lord and Savior
I am your light in the dark
Surrender to me, surrender and you will be set free
God has called us and set us free
To spread His love and help them believe
That Jesus is the One who was sacrificed
Ask Him in your heart and you will have eternal life
The vocal harmonies introducing the ballad "Hold On" give way to an exquisite flamenco guitar, a softer side to the bands songwriting skills demonstrated as the song slowly moves ahead to a smooth sounding chorus backed by more vocal harmonies.
"Hand Of God", the albums third instrumental, is carried its entire extent by Rivera's blues flavored lead guitar work reinforced by a punchy bass line. If you have any questions about this guy’s talent, he silences all doubters here.
Bomma puts forth another very fine performance on the power ballad "Give Me Your Love", displaying his clean sounding vocal abilities as an acoustic guitar takes the song to a chorus with a strong commercially accessible feel. An emotional atmosphere is created as the rhythm guitar enters the mix in time to propel its second chorus and the instrumental passage that follows.
Rivera's flamenco guitar returns to highlight the extent of the classy "Full Moon In Spain", while the album ends to a very well done acoustic version of "Cry Of Love".
All in all, Invisible Force proves a very fine debut that does a good job showcasing the combined talents of Rod Rivera and Johnny Bomma. While the two prove in no uncertain terms they can write a standout power ballad, I cannot help but think Invisible Force would have benefited from a few more upbeat hard rockers along the lines "Victory", "Tarot Reader" and "No Win Situation". The album, for example, gets a bit thin near its end in that four out of its last five tracks are mostly acoustic based.
Review by: Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: "Invisible Force" (2:32), "Victory" (4:12), "Tarot Reader" (5:57), "Cry Of Love" (5:13), "Eclectic" (5:03), "No Win Situation" (4:30), "Hold On" (4:32), "Hand Of God" (3:16), "Give Me Your Love" (5:52), "Full Moon In Spain" (3:24), "Cry Of Love" (6:05)
Johnny Bomma – Lead Vocals
Rod Rivera – Guitars, Fretless Bass & Flamenco Guitars
R. Sean Faust - Keyboards
Dave Incognito – Bass
Edward Faust – Drums & Percussion
Also Reviewed: Rivera Bomma - I Am God