Chaotic grindcore/progressive-metal duo The Central reinvent themselves on a new EP, Sick And Dying, which they'll celebrate at this show. While the Madison band's earlier releases, like 2014's We Hate Metal and 2013's A Clean Burning Hell, showcase their talents as experimental grindcore aficionados, The Central's vision really started to become clear on the 2016 album Discovery Of A Rat. Guitarist-vocalist Frankie Furillo and drummer Alex Robert's approach to blending daring syncopation with poppy chords made it one of the best local albums released that year.
Furillo calls Sick And Dying "more of an experimental weird rock album that we've been intending to make for six years that anyone who likes our other records will probably hate." But the record is less of a shock than Furillo makes it out to be, because The Central has always taken plenty of experimental detours. Tracks on Discovery Of A Rat would often abandon blast-beats for harmony, after all. The first single released from Sick And Dying, "Quiet Mouse In Muscatine," sounds more like a dream-pop ballad than the work of a metal band. It stretches for seven minutes, weaving soft vocals and bluesy chords with the menacing sounds of disjointed, scraping metal. "Sick And Dying Pt. 1 & 2" form a dream-like epic that highlights the band's gift for harmonic complexity. The more aggressive and chaotic side of the band comes through in the driving double bass and pentatonic sweeping of "Whatever Happens."
If this is The Central's attempt to admit that they have an identity crisis, it is a very-well managed identity crisis. The EP ebbs and flows in a way that would make fans of Tera Melos and The Number Twelve Looks Like You bond over its frantic energy. At this release show, The Central will be supported by one of the most impressive and exciting power-violence/mathcore acts in the Midwest, Closet Witch. Stoughton grindcore band Mellow Harsher will be opening as well. Limited-edition cassettes will be available for the night, alongside custom chalk-heart Valentine candies with endearing messages for fans. —John McCracken