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Viper Central - The Spirit of God And Madness

  by Benjamin Howarth

published: 12 / 8 / 2017

Viper Central - The Spirit of God And Madness
Label: Viper Central
Format: CD


First rate showcase of bluegrass and old-time styles from Viper Central, within which lead singer Kathleen Nisbet emerges as the writer of truly memorable original songs

'The Spirit of God and Madness' is the third album from five piece acoustic string band Viper Central, whose core line-up features guitar, banjo, mandolin, bass and fiddle (with a few friends popping in to lend their hands on drums and horns for these recordings.) Their mission statement when they formed in Vancouver in 2008 was "to shake up the British Columbia bluegrass scene." This being my first exposure to said bluegrass scene, I can't report back on whether their compatriots feels suitably shaken up, but I can say that Viper Central have made an excellent record. Bluegrass purists, if indeed such people exist, may be angry to read that Viper Central have used this record to branch out into a wider sphere of influences, including old time swing, rockabilly and Métis fiddle (a traditional style of the aboriginal people of Canada and North America incorporating aspects of Celtic and European music, and played at folk dances). In addition to broadening out their sound, Viper Central are increasingly focused on their own songwriting. There are a couple of traditional numbers on this record, but most of the tracks are originals. Many are twists on traditional styles, but lead songwriter Kathleen Nisbet regularly goes beyond stylistic conventions with a series of powerful compositions, culminating in the record's excellent centre piece, 'Cherry Red'. The record has an unusual structure, with the first half mostly featuring conventionally structured songs (albeit with no shortage of smoking solos), before the second half breaks into a series of whopping jigs and reels, interspersed with one of the record's strongest songs, 'The Mission'. Unusually, it feels more like the structure of a live show than a traditional album, but it works - and, like all the best live shows, they leave the most exuberant track till last. The end result is an album that would be ideal background music for larking about at home (or, more likely, doing the dishes to). Then, every so often, a knockout track pops out that makes you listen much more intently. It works both as an excellent album in its own right, but also as an excellent source for your playlists and mix tapes. Look out for them as they tour the UK and Ireland in August and September, as I have no doubt this will be a highly entertaining show.

Track Listing:-
1 Gold Mine
2 Losing My Mind
3 Prophet of The New World
4 Say Say
5 99 Cents Short
6 Ned Kelly
7 Cherry Red
8 I Won't Be Left Behind
9 Devil's Reel
10 Devil's String
11 Bloodvein Breakdown
12 The Mission
13 Bear Claw
14 Luxury Liner

Band Links:-

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