Live Review: Carpenter Brut at O2 Forum Kentish Town (23/10/18)

Carpenter Brut is quite possibly the greatest band for fusing metal and dark synthwave while at the same time, bewitching you (in the moonlight) to make you dance furiously and savour blasts from the past 80s with demonic, horror-tinted contour lines.

A project of French artist Franck Hueso, Carpenter Brut has released three EPs: EP I (2012), EP II (2013) and EP III (2015), which have been compilated into a studio album Trilogy (2015); one live album, Carpenter Brut Live (2017); and their newest release, studio album Leather Teeth (February 2018).

The term ‘dance metal’ is very often used to describe Carpenter Brut’s sound. Franck Hueso explains that it appeals metalheads because it brings something refreshing to somewhat redundant metal. “The base [of metal] remains the same, but playing it with electronic instruments brings something new”, interprets Mr Hueso. “I would say dark synthwave could be its illegitimate child” [Source: MetalSucks].

Camden is obscurely ready: a perfect dark atmosphere began brewing at quiet Kentish Town on a Monday evening. Young metalheads with varied band t-shirts from Ghost, Rush, Leprous and Metallica, amongst many others, were queuing at O2 Forum Kentish Town’s gloomy alleyway, situated in the right side of the building. Doors opened at 7pm and at 8pm the support act, one-man-band GosT, came on stage. The mysterious North-American producer appeared with a black costume and veil covering his entire face. Performing with a Tempest synth and an Epiphone bass guitar, KISS-obsessed GosT set up the mood with a forty-minute 9-song set very synonymous to Carpenter Brut’s electronic dance metal style. GosT closed out with a soul-stirring cover of Nine Inch Nail’s ‘Head Like a Hole’ (Pretty Hate Machine, 1989).

Here comes the Leather Patrol: Toto’s anthem ‘Africa’ (Toto IV, 1982) served as a prelude for Carpenter Brut’s appearance. Interrupting the heavily-chorused hymn with an explosion sound effect, Franck Hueso et al. (guitarist and drummer) pop up on stage to perform ‘Leather Teeth’, the first track in their 2018 studio album Leather Teeth. A fantastic red-white light show reinforced the turbulent kickoff. The seventy-minute show consisted of an almost perfect 50/50 mix of older, harsher tunes from I, II and III and super danceable, 8-month-old Leather Teeth tracks, all of which were escorted by satirical videos of horror and gore, smooth pornography and Satanism innuendo. The berserk light spectacle, particularly in dark, red and white tones, enhanced the ambience.

F. Hueso (right) plus live support musicians

The evolution of the adolescents: the highlight of the night was definitely how Carpenter Brut’s set changed the public’s (mainly formed of young College students) counteraction to the music. First four songs impressed the fans, evoking classic claps that quickly turned into ‘signs of the horns’. Next three: ‘Wake up The President’ (I, 2012),  ‘Chew BubbleGum and Kick Ass’ and ‘Turbo Killer’ (III, 2015) transformed those kids into overly-thrilled mosh pitters, pushing each other to dance madly, getting their t-shirts off. Extremely hyped now, intense mosh pits slowly turned into more elaborate dance moves. At some point, it seemed almost everyone in the crowd had a unique way of dancing and admiring their fellow’s own method of enjoying the music. Besides, despite not having a live vocalist on stage, lyrics of several tracks were put on the screen; it was the ultimate karaoke. The fans’ enthusiasm got to its maximum with the tape for ‘Inferno Galore‘ (Leather Teeth, 2018): a detailed, extravagant and masterful black humor video depicting the signs and dangers of having a Satanic child.

Munday Hunt (for a dance) comes to an end: after crazy hits ‘SexKiller On The Loose’ (II, 2015), ‘Disco Zombi Italia’ and ‘Le Perv’ (I, 2012), the band bid farewell with a cover version of Michael Sembello’s ‘Maniac’ (Bossa Nova Hotel, 1983), a practice that has become wholly common at Brut gigs. Even if the show was rather short (seventy minutes), Carpenter Brut transformed a seemingly standard concert assembly into an enchanted, highly engaged and considerably maniac crowd.

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