ALBUM REVIEW: Carpenter Brut – Leather Terror

The second part of his ongoing conceptual “Leather” trilogy, Frank Huesco, the French darksynth artist better known as Carpenter Brut, follows up 2018’s Leather Teeth with the sequel, Leather Terror (No Quarter Productions/Universal Music/Caroline Records). Conceived during lockdown and featuring absolutely no electric guitars, this latest synth-driven piledriver serves as the soundtrack to an imagined 1987 horror movie about Bret Halford, a nerdy science student who resorts to somewhat dubious scientific methods to win a girl from her high school jock boyfriend. After his experiment turns unrequited love into disfiguration and madness, Halford becomes “Leather Teeth”, the scarred, peroxide blonde frontman of glam rock band Leather Patrol. Picking up the story at this point, Leather Terror uses its twelve tracks to show Halford taking his new serial killer rock star identity and wreaking revenge on those who abused him.

The sinister cinematic atmosphere of ‘Opening Title’ sets the mood with ominous drums and choral backing before launching into the driving insanity of ‘Straight Outta Hell’, a frenzied opening making way for a slower, groove-fuelled middle section. The first in a trio of non-instrumental tracks, ‘The Widow Maker’ comes with vocals from Alex Westaway of British synthwave act Gunship, the pulsating ‘Imaginary Fire’ showcases the talents of former Dillinger Escape Plan frontman Greg Puciato while the smoky neon-lit ballad ‘…Good Night, Goodbye’ features Norwegian black metallers turned electronica act Ulver, the Leprous style cut ending like it had been found in an old pile of tape cassettes from the early eighties.

The uptempo ‘Day Stalker’ is wrapped in warm, layered keyboards which slowly build into a darker, more intense, malicious flip-side with ‘Night Prowler’. Featuring Parisian electropop singer Persha, the bright, vibrant tones of ‘Lipstick Masquerade’ still carry a darker, melancholic edge as well as the occasional hint of Michael Jackson‘s ‘Thriller’. The urgent keys of ‘Color Me Blood’ head into more menacing territory while the quiet claustrophobia of ‘Stabat Mater’ is given life by Norwegian singer Kathrine Shepard (aka Sylvaine), the song segueing into the disquieting, slashing chords of ‘Paradisi Gloria’. Johannes “Jonka” Andersson of Swedish gothic death metal act Tribulation snarls and rasps over the pounding title track, the album ending on a suitably ruthless note for a story about a disfigured serial killer.


Despite the lack of guitars, Leather Terror is often just as vicious as anything from the world of metal as drums pound relentlessly, vocals range from the ethereal to the demonic, and looming keyboards slice and dice with ruthless efficiency through the album’s more aggressive cuts. In movie trilogies, the second entry can often prove to be the weakest but this isn’t the case here as the sequel expands and even improves on the superb original. Roll on the final part.

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8 / 10