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Carpenter Brut - Leather Terror (Album Review)

Friday, 08 April 2022 Written by Simon Ramsay

Carpenter Brut is a one-off. The Frenchman hurls everything from rock, EDM and pop to AOR, disco and all forms of metal into his symphonic, dark synthwave mix. Although it’s not hard to spot the influences at play, the way he smashes them together, to create an imaginary soundtrack for a John Carpenter-esque slasher flick, couldn’t have been done by anyone else.

‘Leather Terror’ is the sequel to 2018’s ‘Leather Teeth’ and the middle part of Brut’s trilogy about geeky science student Bret Halford. In that introductory instalment, the protagonist took a flawed potion to control his dream girl, Kendra, and her quarterback boyfriend. Alas, after it backfired and left him scarred for life, he subsequently became Leather Teeth, the Sebastian Bach-meets-Bret Michaels frontman of glam band Leather Patrol, in a futile attempt to win her heart.

Picking up where that effort climaxed, ‘Leather Terror’ sees Halford out to exact vengeance on all those who bullied him during his youth.

Bigger, bolder and more sinister, the previous record’s neon-lit, ‘80s glam sound has evolved into a bludgeoning wall of ‘90s electro-metal as the avenging rock star-turned-serial killer lives out his bloody revenge fantasies one brutal payback at a time.

Set against a banging backdrop of pulsating danceable grooves, terror-inducing rhythmic beds and a cacophony of distorted synths that weave bombastic melodies and counter melodies together, Day Stalker and Night Prowler reimagine Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive as a sci-fi horror with Ryan Gosling using KARR, the nemesis of Knight Rider’s Kitt, to mow down anyone that dares get in his way.

Featuring guest vocalists to deliver the story’s key beats, the sublime one two punch of The Widowmaker and Imaginary Fire feature Gunship’s Alex Westaway and Dillinger Escape Plan’s Greg Puciatio delivering ironclad anthemic melodies with aggression, vulnerability and swagger. Katherine Shephard of Sylvaine makes Lipstick Masquerade resemble something from ‘Thriller’ mixed through a giddy euro-pop algorithm.

Whether aired at Download, Glastonbury’s dance tent or any club in any area, these groove-heavy songs would be equally impactful. They can be enjoyed as a visceral physical experience, by those who wish to immerse themselves in the narrative concept, or by anyone looking to deconstruct Brut’s feats of musical alchemy.  

Aside from the coruscating drumming, this whole album was performed entirely on synthesisers. There isn’t a single guitar.  It’s something most listeners won’t even notice, thanks to Brut’s innate understanding of rock and metal and his ability, on the likes of Straight Outta Hell, to ape the venomous six-string textures that propel those genres. 

Ultimately, this front-loaded album does wobble during its final act. Some instrumentals, although tonally cohesive, aren’t distinct enough to stand out from each other. Cookie Monster growling on the unappealing title track makes it hard to decipher an important narrative conclusion and slower ambient cuts, such as Stabat Mater, show Brut’s music is less compelling when he dials everything down to service his story.

Minor missteps aside, ‘Leather Terror’ finds this electro-wizard bombing forward in thrillingly idiosyncratic fashion. The final part of any trilogy is, historically, the weakest instalment, but if he channels his strongest attributes into concluding this tale, expect a suitably grandstanding, and brilliantly gory finale.

Carpenter Brut Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Fri November 04 2022 - MANCHESTER Manchester Academy 2
Sat November 05 2022 - LONDON O2 Shepherd's Bush Empire
Sun November 06 2022 - BRISTOL O2 Academy Bristol

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