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Saturday, December 6, 2008

Review: Viper Central - The Devil Sure Is Hard To Please

Viper Central - The Devil Sure Is Hard To Please
2008, Viper Central

Vancouver's Viper Central knows what roots music is all about. The Devil Sure Is Hard To Please is the most strikingly brilliant mix of bluegrass, folk and country I have heard in 2008. Viper Central has gone so far to the roots on American music that you can't even properly call them Americana, I'd hedge by calling them pre-Americana. Shotgun Wedding is country music rolled almost all the way back to its Celtic roots with some good old Appalachian styling thrown in. Gold Road comes forward to a more traditional bluegrass sound with some amazing slide guitar work and finger picking going on. Viper Central reminds me a bit of one of my favorite bluegrass bands, The McKrells, but Viper Central perhaps exceeds even that vaunted, erstwhile band.

Mountain Of Trouble is a great listen, but Down in Western Virginia recalls the mix of country and rockabilly that fed the early Sun Records recordings. Down In Western Virginia features the most striking vocal harmonies on the disc, and you'll be humming this tune for days. Devil In The Hourglass is a work of dexterity for guitar and banjo and should be approached with extreme caution. If you're going to try to learn this one to play along you might want to start at quarter-speed. Roving Gambler is a gorgeous traditional tune that features Lorraine Cobb on lead vocals (something we could all stand to hear more of). Sadie's Ghost is a dark flavored tune that blurs the line between bluegrass and Celtic traditions and is one of the more interesting listens on The Devil Sure Is Hard To Please. The album closes with Come Along, a rousing instrumental that is the perfect aperitif here.

Viper Central gets down to the roots of American music in a way that revitalizes the sound and makes it new for today. Each generation needs at least one band to get into the metaphysics of its country's musical lineage and make sure that the music is preserved and expanded upon. Viper Central has answered that charge with gusto. The Devil Sure Is Hard To Please is a stellar offering, a Wildy's World Certified Desert Island Disc, and a must-have for true music fans.

Rating: 5 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Viper Central at or You can purchase a copy of The Devil Sure Is Hard To Please at

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