|Musical Style: Metal/Hard Rock||Produced By: Neil Rambaldi, Rod Rivera & Johnny Bomma|
|Record Label: Mausoleum||Country Of Origin: USA|
|Year Released: 2006||Artist Website: Rivera Bomma|
|Tracks: 11||Rating: 85%|
|Running Time: 65:44|
The biography of New Jersey’s Rivera Bomma states, word for word, that “Rivera Bomma aren’t concerned with being part of the current trend. In fact, they’ve never been overly concerned with what the mainstream audience deemed popular.” No kidding? Actually, I could not think of a better way to sum things up, particularly in light of the duos most recent outing, I Am God. A combination of American power metal and straightforward hard rock with an occasional progressive leaning, I Am God reflects influences as diverse as Rainbow, Deep Purple, Dio and Dokken while serving to showcase the potential Rivera Bomma hinted at on its 2001 debut Invisible Force. While certainly not bad from a musical standpoint, I found Invisible Force to fall a bit short of the mark due to its lack of continuity. The album, for example, delivered its share of upbeat hard rockers in addition to three instrumental tracks, a couple of ballads and several acoustic based numbers. In other words, a lot of variety. I Am God, on the other hand, does include one ballad (“Oh Girl”) and a very fine instrumental (“La Voz De Mi Guitarra”) but proves the all around more focused effort from front to back in highlighting the combined abilities of lead vocalist Johnny Bomma and guitarist Rod Rivera. Bomma proves quite the talented frontman, contributing a resounding and clean but powerful classic tenor voice. Rivera is a shredder in the truest sense of the word who literally steals the show with a dazzling style bringing to mind the likes of Richie Blackmore, Michael Schenker and Yngwie Malmsteen. With that in mind, it must be mentioned that the abundant confidence the band exhibits in its instrumental sound helps to take many of the albums compositions out past the six or even the seven minute mark.
Production values, coming across crisp and clean, are near flawless in proving a definite step forward when compared to Invisible Force.
Album opener “I Am God (Intro)” is a short (1:21) instrumental carried its distance by keyboards until the albums title track kicks in hard and heavy.
After “I Am God” opens to a lengthy instrumental section featuring a blend of rhythm guitar and keyboards backed by pounding drums, Bomma steps forward and details the creation with his commanding vocal delivery:
In the sixth day
God created everything
That breathes here on earth
On the seventh day
God took His rest to behold
What He has loved
A worshipful atmosphere is created as “I Am God” culminates for a powerfully delivered chorus pointing to the person of Christ:
I am God – Halleluiah!
King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Shining Star,
The Redeemer – I am God
Following an instrumental passage beginning to an acoustic guitar that gives way to a fiery solo from Rivera, a hard hitting riff takes over as Christ’s crucifixion is portrayed:
They whipped and beat Him
Blood dripped from His head
They mocked, spit and punched Him
As He walked the narrow road
They nailed, nailed, nailed His feet
And His hands to the cross of Golgotha
The blend of rhythm guitar and drums introducing the mid-tempo hard rocker “You Are My Child” is reinforced by keyboards after several seconds. Once the keyboards drop from the mix as the song reaches its first verse, they return with just the right amount of effect and help lead the way to a good melodic flavored chorus bolstered by vocal harmonies. A flamenco guitar opens an instrumental passage featuring a slowly moving and almost bluesy guitar solo.
“He Died For You” begins to a pounding riff that segues to several seconds of neo-classical influenced lead guitar work. Advancing through its verse portions in a substantial guitar driven fashion, keyboards highlight the atmosphere just before the song moves on to an imposing chorus presenting a simple but straightforward message:
He died for you
Your sins He will remove
Call on His name
You’re life He will change
Incrementally gains momentum, “He Died For You” transitions to a lengthy instrumental section in which both bass and guitar solos lead the way.
“Oh Girl” is a very fine though somewhat lengthy (6:54) commercial power ballad. The song gets underway slowly in the form of guitar harmony before an acoustic guitar takes over and quietly carries its first verse. Picking up in pace for the second, “Oh Girl” gains impetus after a crisp rhythm guitar takes it to a laid back but emotional chorus with a good catchy hook. Rivera steps forward and drives a nice sweeping instrumental section with his blues flavored lead guitar work, while he contributes more of the same over the songs final two minutes.
I Am God hits its stride with the excellent “Riding High”. Several seconds of bluesy riffing starts the song before a blend of rhythm guitar and keyboards crashes to the forefront of the mix and pushes it ahead hard and heavy. After the rhythm guitar fades from the mix as “Riding High” slows during its first and second verse, it returns with just the right amount of crunch and helps lead the way to an energetic double bass driven chorus moving at an upbeat tempo. The punchy bass guitar opening a sweeping instrumental passage gives way to a fluid guitar solo from Rivera that slowly builds in intensity until he cuts loose in a fast paced manner. The lyrics to “Riding High” are self-explanatory:
I meet Him down in Rich Port
And along the way
I meet Him in the churches in the USA
I found Him in the gutters
I found Him in the trails
I found Him in the lonely place
And His love will never fail
Now it’s time
Come join the ride
Young and old
Praise the Lord
Sing it loud we are…
Riding high with Jesus Christ
The seven minute “Sing To Me” quickly fades in before a pounding riff briefly propels it forward. Abruptly tapering off as the bass guitar slowly holds sway over the start of its first verse, the pace picks up before the rhythm guitar returns and takes the song to a fleeting chorus resonating a strong commercial feel. Following its second chorus, “Sing To Me” evenly flows to an instrumental section highlighted by a blistering guitar solo. While this is a very fine song and I appreciate it when a band is not afraid to extend its material out past five or six minute, I cannot help but think this is one track that might have come across better if reduced by a minute or two.
“Help” is an exciting hard rocker that quickly takes off to a catchy, double bass driven riff. Aggressively impelled through its first verse by a crunchy rhythm guitar, an energy-laden atmosphere is created as the song attains a brief but invigorating chorus in which at its end Bomma lets loose with an ear piercing scream. Stopping dead in its tracks, “Help” moves on to an instrumental section showcasing more of Rivera’s near mesmerizing lead guitar work.
“Holy One” originally appeared on the Secret Port version of Invisible Force as a bonus track. The keyboard solo initiating the song is soon joined by a crisp sounding rhythm guitar. Tapering off for its first verse as the rhythm guitar bounces in and out of the mix, “Holy One” builds in momentum during its emotional pre-chorus prior to flowing to an anthemic chorus fortified by Bomma’s powerful vocal delivery. “Holy One” is aptly named:
Feeling stronger day-by-day Jesus,
Fill me with what you say
God above please forgive me
That I may be set free
If God is for me who can be against me
Standing tall for Christ
He is the Holy One
“La Voz De Mi Guitarra” is a very fine instrumental carried its extent by a flamenco guitar.
“Revelation/Midnight Sunlight” also first appeared as a bonus track on the Secret Port version of Invisible Force but under the title of “Revelation”. After “Revelation/Midnight Sunlight” proceeds through its first verse at a guitar driven mid-tempo pace, a touch of acoustic guitar and double bass enhances the environment as the song gains impetus for the second. The infectious chorus that follows is repeated twice by the band in a perfect epic flavored manner. An aggressive riff opens an instrumental section in which Rivera’s lead guitar is allowed to cleanly bounce between the left and right channel. The album closes out its final minute to guitar feedback blended with an open air guitar solo. Great, great song. As its title implies, “Revelation/Midnight Sunlight” draws its lyrics from the book of Revelation:
Then I saw a white horse before me
Its name is called Faithful & True
His eyes are like blazing fire and His sword He shall destroy
Then I saw the new heavens
And all the angels praised His name
The saints were all brought together
Side by side we will live forever
Review by: Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: “I Am God (Intro)” (1:21), “I Am God” (8:31), “You Are My Child” (4:34), “He Died For You” (6:39), “Oh Girl” (6:59), “Riding High” (7:04), “Sing To Me” (7:30), “Help” (5:57), “Holy One” (5:15), “La Voz De Mi Guitarra” (4:07), “Revelation/Midnight Sunlight” (7:55)
Johnny Bomma – Lead Vocals
Rod Rivera – Guitars
Taz Robles – Bass
Steven D. Riker – Drums
Neil Rambaldi – Keyboards, Orchestral Arrangements, Programming, Percussion & Bass
Also Reviewed: Rivera Bomma – Invisible Force