For those in the know on all things gothy and (dark)wavey, Berlin's Bestial Mouths are one of the most ferocious current practitioners of the dark musical arts. The band made their name on the strength of albums released on tastemaking labels like Dais and Cleopatra, to say nothing of live shows that were more rhythmic rituals and exorcisms than mere dour wallowing – and that includes shows in Orlando in 2017 and 2019.
But here's something even the most plugged-in batcave dwellers don't know: Bestial Mouths leader Lynette Cerezo grew up here in Orlando, frequenting now-legendary spots favored by outsider teens in the early 1990s.
"I can remember going to Murmur Records, going to an all-ages venue called Visage," recalls Cerezo. "We went downtown on weekends to socialize and the punks, goths and skaters all came together."
Cerezo has certainly come a long way since then, creatively and geographically. She's now one of the more prominent women in gothic and industrial music, the Siouxsie-esque singer and leader of a band with quite a bit of critical and audience love. And, yet, when Orlando Weekly spoke with Cerezo in July, she had been back in Orlando for nearly two months, torn between familial obligations and finishing the new Bestial Mouths album, RESURRECTEDINBLACK. What gives?
"I was in Berlin around March when the true seriousness and effects of COVID-19 started to take hold. ... I traveled to Los Angeles the day before Germany stopped running flights," says Cerezo. "I spent the rest of March, April and May in quarantine and isolation on a campground outside of L.A. Nature became my friend and savior as I waited to see what would happen with the world and when I could return. I still held hope for a while that [Bestial Mouths'] May E.U. tour would happen. I remember the day I got the canceled return flight email."
Despite these setbacks, Cerezo made the best of it in Los Angeles, isolating with her partner and working out the last-minute details of the planned July release of RESURRECTEDINBLACK. But since it's 2020, no one is allowed to have a single moment of respite.
"In June, I received a panicked call from my mother in Orlando that my dad was just rushed in an ambulance to the hospital and admitted into the ICU. All I could understand was that he had fallen off a ladder and it was very serious," says Cerezo.
"So I grabbed Millie, my three-pound chihuahua, and we flew to Orlando the next day. Once here, because of COVID, only my mom was allowed into the hospital and ICU wing. For a week we had no clue and it was touch-and-go. ... Meanwhile I was helping in the home with my oldest brother, who has cerebral palsy, and the family dog Walter. I had to make that tough call that it was Walter's time to pass. Next day, my ex-husband called and [told me] our previous dog together, Hannah, had passed as well.
"My daily life for the past two months has been one of nursing and errands. It's a very emotionally, mentally and physically demanding job for my mother, me and my brother. Dad needed 24/7 help. Before that, in isolation in California, I had tried not to succumb to depression and anxiety, to keep creative. But it's very hard not seeing friends, and being around such a demanding and stressful environment has had a big effect on me."
- Photo by Sandy Holmes
- Lynette Cerezo, Bestial Mouths
With touring off the table, the focus of all activity in the Bestial Mouths camp is spreading the word on the new album, out on Rune & Ruin Records (run by the tandem of Cerezo and Linear Aspera's Alison Lewis). The album features Cerezo working with heavyweight collaborators like Brant Showers of Aimon and Alex Degroot of Zola Jesus, and even heavier lyrical concepts.
"It's the journey of what I have experienced in the past few years. The struggle and rebirth I had to undergo and overcome after my divorce. My ex-husband and I founded Bestial Mouths together and I had never performed or worked with anyone else, so not only did my personal life of 10 years shatter and change," reveals Cerezo.
"This is the most personal Bestial Mouths album so far, as it's really a reflection of me. I have aired it all and it's frightening, but I hope it connects as we all suffer and change."
The album is one of the best things we've heard so far this year, a hybrid of sleek, bleak electronics and earworm rhythms with towering, powerful vocals that evoke the aforementioned Siouxsie and Jarboe. If goth clubs were still a thing, these songs would fill the floor.
By the time you read this, Cerezo will be back in Los Angeles, with the Orlando home front stabilized. But this lengthy stay had an unintended effect on the Bestial Mouths' aesthetic, in the form of promotional photos and video footage shot for a future project here in Central Florida with occasional Orlando Weekly contributor Sandy Holmes. The result was the stern Berlin industrial Bestial Mouths seen in a new and different tropi-goth light, a way of reconnecting with Cerezo's roots.
"I wanted to incorporate something that is part of me whether I realized it or not, and I felt the surroundings of my parents' home and their belongings was the choice to go with. They've lived in the same house since I was 5, and their yard is a sculptured wonderland jungle, where every family member has their own tree that mom planted when we moved in," says Cerezo. "I felt this atmosphere and environment of lush and wild, overgrown and intertwining plants symbolized me, where I have come from, been, am now and maybe will go."
- Photo by Sandy Holmes
- Lynette Cerezo, Bestial Mouths