Carpenter Brut - Leather Terror
No Quarter Prod.
Electronics n Metal
12 songs (45:02)
Release year: 2022
Brut, No Quarter
Reviewed by Ben

Carpenter Brut has accomplished what is, in my opinion, the best example of a synthwave / metal amalgamation. Being part of the trio of acclaimed synth guys that also incorporate metal (the other two being Perturbator and GosT *the guy, not the band*) Brut succeeds in stunning fashion.

When Carpenter Brut toured Europe and the USA in 2016 and 2017, what blew everyone away was his live show. Instead of just being a guy and some Ableton units, Brut man guy played keyboards, there was a guitarist, and there was also a live drummer. It's no secret that Carpenter Brut is some French producer with close ties to UIver and other metal bands and touring with a full line up like a metal band really got his juices flowing. The 2018 release Leather Teeth was the first in a three part story and Brut has a bunch of guitars all over the album. While I enjoyed the music, it still felt a bit kitschy, a bit over the top in the "80's metal parody" sense. So, it's rather ironic that this release here today, Leather Terror, succeeds in every area that fell by the wayside in its predecessor, conveys an incredibly tense and metal aesthetic, and all while having NO guitars at all! This is what "back to the roots" really sounds like.

One of the new elements that came about in Leather Teeth was the emphasis on tracks with singers. Up to this point, basically 90% of the catalog was instrumental. Continuing in the same vein, roughly half of Leather Terror contains vocal tracks and they range the gamut in styles from gentle crooning to raging death vox. The most notable metal guest, Greg Puciatto, sings on one of the most metal tracks here, Imaginary Fire. He utilizes his clean voice throughout and people shouldn't be surprised at this point to his rich timbre. Another super metal track is The Widow Maker which has the dude from Gunship singing on it. A really slow and somber track, ...Goodnight, Goodbye has the guy from Ulver but this is really, really painfully slow. Atmospheric I guess, but not my bag. Lipstick Masquerade has a rowdy eighties electro pop vibe and what sounds like a sultry lounge singer in a smoky future club with the color scheme and vibe of the clubs in the Mars colony in Total Recall. Finally, the title track has growly vocals so I guess most people will think of this one as THE metal track.

The shift into more vocal led territory is only natural. It's an expansion on the music that lends both accessibility and artistic mobility. Vocals make things much more trickier, especially as a member of one or two man bands. The fact that the aforementioned Gunship only has two albums out in seven years is because they are almost entirely vocal driven and only two guys. Carpenter Brut himself put out three EPs and several stand alone instrumental singles in less time that it took for him to record and release this duo of "Leather" albums. Despite having new avenues to explore with different singers, I am always partial to the instrumentals in this genre and Leather Terror has some really cool moments. The double combo of Day Stalker / Night Prowler is my personal favorite. Literally playing off the duality of the character in the lyrics and the whole Day / Night theme, these two songs have distinct tonalities. Day Stalker begins like a gradual sunrise and warming of the pavement beneath your feet as it slowly builds and adds layers to its constant, pulsing beat. Much like the increase in pedestrians and traffic in a busy city zone, drum loops and synth washes increase until the tension is at a breaking point. Blending seamlessly into each other, Night Prowler grabs the baton from Day Stalker and the mood is instantly changed to dark and murderous and imagery of dilapidated flats and dark streets with no lights and blocks of boarded up buildings passing by. Really intense and cool stuff. Color Me Blood is another stand alone instrumental that is in the same league as these two are. Similar intensity, similar "on the hunt for blood" type of vibe.

Leather Terror is a vast improvement over Leather Teeth in every single conceivable way. As stated, Leather Teeth bordered on the edge of parody and after seeing him live doing most of the Trilogy EPs, I didn't really feel like we needed an electronic version of Steel Panther. While this isn't what one might expect from me and my "denim n leather forever" metal ways, electronic music like this has been in my rotation for the past seven years. It's nice sometimes when things line up like this. Highly recommended.

Killing Songs :
Day Stalker, Night Prowler, The Widow Maker, Color Me Blood. Imaginary Fire, Lipstick Masquerade
Ben quoted 90 / 100
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