Carpenter Brut’s Leather Terror: murder on the dancefloor

Album review: Synthwave’s shadowy maestro Carpenter Brut goes dancing in the dark on new album Leather Terror

Carpenter Brut Leather Terror album cover
(Image: © Universal Music)

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Synthwave may not have taken off as a genre in the way that many of us predicted when we first laid eyes on its giddy, multicoloured glory in the mid-2010s, but Carpenter Brut has become something of the exception to the rule regarding the commercial appeal of this music.

The Frenchman has pretty much been the sole crossover success (sold out tours and remixing Ghost), and, when listening to Leather Terror, it’s easy to see why. This music is undeniably propulsive and instantaneous; it readily and expertly dives headfirst into all the most absurd and decadent clichés of its influences with true love and reverence; and, most importantly, this shit is just so much fun.

Leather Terror instantly improves your mood the second you put it on; it could turn the grumpiest modern-day Victor Meldrew into a gurning, shape-throwing, hip-thrusting lothario. First track proper, Straight Outta Hell, sounds like the Tron soundtrack raised on a diet of Slayer, Imaginary Fire features the vocal pipes of former Dillinger Escape Plan man Greg Puciato, who brilliantly sounds like Simon Le Bon possessed by Satan, and the title track feels like the Celtic Frost/Prodigy collaboration we never knew we needed.

There has been talk that this album would be a darker, heavier and more violent take on the Leather Teeth story. And while it is true that the thematics – a tale of a serial killer taking revenge on a cheerleader – and the sonics lean into a far more extreme territory, if the majority of Leather Terror doesn’t just make you want to get up and dance to all of its sublimely banging, schlocky glory then there’s a very good chance that Carpenter Brut’s fictional killer got to you in one of his earlier instalments.

Since blagging his way onto the Hammer team a decade ago, Stephen has written countless features and reviews for the magazine, usually specialising in punk, hardcore and 90s metal, and still holds out the faint hope of one day getting his beloved U2 into the pages of the mag. He also regularly spouts his opinions on the Metal Hammer Podcast.