Synths, Sleaze and 666… Carpenter Brut and GosT have us dancing with the Devil. 9/10.
Synthwave, then. A heady blend of electronica, samples and guitars, it’s a love letter to the horror and sci-fi scores, videogame soundtracks and all of the remorselessly gory, filthy and retrofuturistic visuals that came to define cult back in the 80s. With that in mind, it’s little wonder why the genre courts the metal fans favour. And watching the sea of black clad bodies piling into Manchester’s Ritz, it’s absolutely clear which crowd have shown up in force tonight.
GosT is an artist who definitely leans toward the heavier side of the synthwave spectrum and as he hits the neon bathed stage to a twisted mix of mangled screams, the hooded figure from Michigan takes no time at all in laying waste to the PA.. and our eardrums.
Opening track Garruth instantly sets the tone, a nightmarish but danceable blend of blast beating electronic drums, throbbing bass and surprisingly heavy downtuned riffage, interspersed with piercing blackened vocals from the man himself. The powerful second track Maleficarum, with its air raid siren intro, movie samples, driving beats and gruesome drops is a highlight, leading us into the atmospherically squelchy pomp of Beliar.
Despite being just one man and his rig, GosT owns the stage, working the crowd with moves as theatrically OTT as the music he makes.
Bathory Bitch belies its title, a dance track through and through and a total crowd pleaser, but the distorted bass and choral crystalline vocals (think Crystal Castles) that permeate the tracks latter half totally threw me off guard. It’s an eclectic set and there’s even room to throw in some love to the goths as well, Sigil masterfully echoing prime Sisters. An initially unrecognisable cover of NIN’s Head Like A Hole closes the set and it’s fucking ridiculous, both in the bowel loosening bassline and black metal assault of the vocals. Tremendous stuff.
A brief respite for a typically overpriced slug of booze. TOTO’s Africa blares out of the speakers prompting singalongs across the Ritz. Then BAM!!!, a sonic boom shakes the crowd to its core and darkness falls upon us. Runic symbols on the screen above the stage reveal the mantra, HERE IT IS I KILL BOTH NIGHT AND DAY, and Leather Teeth, the title track from his most recent album heralds Carpenter Brut’s arrival in euphoric, bombastic style.
The wonderful twists and turns of Division Ruine follow, the French musician’s layers of synth and shimmer washing over the delighted crowd as images from the most cult of 80s sleaze are projected to the beat of the band. A glorious light show drenches the venue in swathes of neon. This synergy between music and visuals is a consistent high point of tonight’s show.
Accompanied by live drummer Florent Marcadet and guitarist Adrien Grousset, fan favourites like Roller Mobster and Turbo Killer in particular – yeah, that one went off – absolutely fucking exploded. While some might consider it a shame not to have added live vocalists to the mix for the glam rock homaging Beware The Beast and icy cool throb of Cheerleader Effect, there’s a choir of fans in here belting out their every word.
Sonically, this is a great sounding set and the addition of live guitar and drums lends extra muscle to the 17 tracks aired tonight. Adding further visual interest, Grousset is a real showman, throwing rock moves aplenty and Brut himself holds his show together with a masterful yet playful intensity, often seen leaping out from behind his rig, whipping the crowd up a notch if the energy levels start to drop.
Speaking of visual interest, did I mention sleaze…? Jesus H. Christ. There’s more blood, softcore porn and dismemberment on display here than you can shake the desiccated corpse of Mary Whitehouse at, but I ain’t getting you lot into trouble at work by posting such salacious imagery…
My personal favourite in this maelstrom of macabre – Monday Hunt – marries shredding guitar and synthesized riffing to an absolutely crazy splicing of gym bunnies, gore spattered sex parties and electric death beds. The disco tinged bass boom of Inferno Galore follows and its video, with tongue resolutely in cheek, harkens back to those innocent days long since passed when metal and fringe culture were considered a Satanic danger to children everywhere. Fantastic, educational fun for the whole family.
The funky dance of Disco Zombi Italia renews the crowd’s vigour before Carpenter Brut brings the epic multiple crescendos of Hairspray Hurricane out to play. Finishing with the creeping off kilter rhythms of Le perv, the encore – an utterly rousing singalong rendition of Maniac (yes, that Maniac from Flashdance) – brings a triumphant gig to a close and we leave The Ritz sweaty, satisfied and utterly exhilarated.