Album Review: Viper Central – The Spirit of God & Madness

Viper Central have been bringing their unique and cheerful style of bluegrass to the world from their humble home in Vancouver, Canada for just shy of ten years. During this time they have garnered themselves legions of fans across the globe with their soulful, dancing bluegrass and country tunes and harmonious vocals.

Despite having entertained fans for close to a decade, this year actually see’s the release of what is only their third studio album release. As desperately as their fans must have been clamouring for this release and irrespective of the eager anticipation they faced it is refreshing and invigorating to have a band as dedicated as Viper Central. Since they first formed back in 2008 they have always consistently taken time between their releases to ensure they create an album that they can be proud of. The Spirit of God and Madness is their latest foray; it is a rich and versatile album that fuses bluegrass, country, folk, rock and blues with hints of jazz and even a soft mariachi style. Songs such as Losing my Mind take a rapid-fire folk tune complete with daring fiddle playing and emblazon it with a resplendent brass section and a strong Latin vibe. This contemporary fusion is something that is carried throughout their songs and The Spirit of God and Madness is an invigorating album that is rife with jubilant tunes that can’t help but elevate your heart and mind. Rich, smooth and jaunty, they will get your feet pounding along to every beat.

Driven powerfully by deep and playful bass lines with breakneck fiddle tunes alongside determined guitar melodies, Viper Central bring a jubilance and spirited sense to their work that is relentlessly cheerful and filled with charisma. Though this album doesn’t contain any live tracks it’s clear from their music that they will have a monstrous stage presence as they whip their instruments to life and transport you back through time. Despite their determination to fuse contemporary music into their work and a clear talent for experimentation the band still manage to create a glowing time portal for you with their 50s infused blues stylings. Lead almost exclusively by the tender Canadian lilt of Kathleen Nisbet the band are elevated further still by her smooth, smouldering and sultry vocals. Impassioned, charming and filled with a tender warmth, Nesbit’s voice leads the way with an endearing sense of cheerfulness and a smoky blues note that is all too contagious.

Viper Central might have a somewhat ominous name but there isn’t a trace of venom in their work. Instead the band concentrate on creating a series of astonishing and beautiful melodies with dazzling slide guitars and combine them with textured and powerful vocals to create an album that can move both your heart and your feet.

Viper Central · UK & Ireland Tour · August-September 2017

Kathleen Nisbet (vocals & fiddle), Steve Charles (vocals, guitars & banjo), Patrick Metzger (vocals & bass),

Tim Tweedale* (vocals & steel guitars) & Chris Suen* (banjo & vocals) *select dates only

Wed 2-Sat 5        Belladrumnr. Inverness                Tartan Heart Festival

Sun 6                 StrathpefferHighlands                 House Concert

Wed 9                CookstownCo. Tyrone                  The Red Room

Thu 10               Cookstown                                The Red Room

Fri 11                 Naulnr. Dublin                              Seamus Ennis Arts Centre with Ulaid & Duke Special

Sat 12                RathfrilandCo. Down                   Bronte Music Club

Sun 13               Comber, Co. Down                        Enler Delta Blues Club, Comber Rec F.C.

Tue 15               RichhillCo. Armagh                       Groucho’s

Wed 16              OmaghCo. Tyrone                        The Weigh Inn

Thu 17               BangorCo. Down                          Ballyholme Yacht Club, Open House Festival Bangor

Fri 18                 BallincolligCo. Cork                    The White Horse

Sun 20               BallydehobCo. Cork                     Levis Corner House

Tues 22-Wed 23  CarlingfordCo. Louth                   Thomas D’Arcy McGee Summer School

Fri 25                 Carrig-on-BannowCo. Wexford     Colfer’s Pub

Sat 26-Sun 27      Dunmore EastCo. Waterford         Dunmore East Bluegrass Festival

Wed 30              BallybofeyCo. Donegal                 Balor Arts Centre

Thu 31-Sun 3      Castletownnr. Omagh                 Bluegrass Music Festival, Ulster American Folk Park

Review by Joe Knipe