French producer Franck Hueso aka Carpenter Brut is one of the key figure in the synthwave/darksynth scene alongside names like Perturbator and Gunship. His style is informed by 80s horror/sci-fi soundtracks – especially the work of John Carpenter as his moniker suggest – and modern electronic music influences with subtle rock/metal elements.
This last aspect has been explored a little bit more in his last album Leather Teeth, an interesting if somewhat confusing experiment with even glam-metal moments, and now the new effort Leather Terror follows suit, but this time things go harder and darker. The story behind the album about a high school student that has become a disfigured rockstar/serial killer out for revenge perfectly encapsules the tongue-in-cheek but seriously conduct atmosphere of the album, a tribute to 80s ridiculous but scary slash movies with over-the-top plots.
The aptly named “Opening Title” is a cinematic intro with orchestral and militant sounds welcoming us with a serious soundscapes which opens up with the following “Straight Outta Hell” and its riffing synths underlined by a double bass drum recalling metal music.
“The Widow Maker” features Gunship in a communion between Carpenter Brut darker style and their nostalgic, melodic approach while “Imaginary Fire” sees the voice of Greg Puciato of The Dillinger Escape Plan in an electro-pop pastiche with captivating refrains and some harsh vocal moments.
Ulver grace “…Good Night, Goodbye” with their elegant and nocturnal touch supported by piano and violins, giving us a sombre orchestration full of melancholy, and the following tracks follow more of a dance/synth oriented pattern with a climax in “Lipstick Masquerade” where French singer Persha contributes to an energetic track with soulful vocals and fast basslines.
Black-gaze artist Sylvaine is the protagonist of the beautiful “Stabat Mater”, a crawling piano piece reminding us of Zola Jesus in its emotional crescendo and eerie main theme. The final title track features Johaness Andersson of Swedish outfit Tribulation in a perfect finale where electronics and operistic black/death aesthetics become one with ferocious pathos.
All in all, Leather Terror is the best effort of Carpenter Brut to date, a fuller manifestation of his recent aesthetics. Following the same crossover approach used by fellow artists GosT and Perturbator in their last albums, Franck goes beyond the limits and borders of synthwave by using his past in metal music as a template for his songwriting (he is even the alleged unofficial producer of Deathspell Omega the French black metal project that has revolutionized the sound and aesthetics of the genre in early 2000s). A recommend work for the lovers of this style wanting something more.
Release date: April 1st, 2022.
Text by: Davide Pappalardo.