Bestial Mouths
R.O.T.T. (inmyskin)
Negative Gain Productions

The long and winding path that has led to Bestial Mouths’ 2023 LP R.O.T.T. (inmyskin) has lasted more than a decade at this point, originating from their death-rock by way of minimal synth sound through to the project’s current highly produced modern darkwave. The through-line for the band has always been the willful presence of Lynette Cerezo, whose alternately wounded and unforgiving voice has served as the project’s distinctive trademark, and whose creative vision has brought them to their present form as a trio. With the creative linup of Cerezo, Brant Showers (∆Aimon, SøLVE) and Matthew Tucker and with the expert production of Rhys Fulber, the sound of the LP is paradoxically lush and barren, with vast open spaces where the emptiness itself is palpable.

Proximity, whether intimately close or across vast distances ends up defining much of the record. The synth-based compositions often forego tangible sequencing and arrangement ideas in favour of texture, giving the more immediate sounds the ability to serve as either structure or a path through a sonic wilderness. For an example of the former, see how the roiling bass and synth arpeggios anchor Cerezo’s voice whether whispering directly in your ear or taking flight on the crawling “Never did I”, or how its immediate follow-up “MIND TEARS” relies on a filtered bass patch and subtly arranged string to provide landmarks in the track’s wasted vistas. In its denser moments like opener “The Knife”, the record’s expert mix fits sequences of percussion, whirling pads and whole choirs of multi-tracked Cerezo into a tight engine, their clockwork synchronicity notable for the contrast with the boundless and obscure landscapes they travel across.

The feeling of isolation engendered by R.O.T.T.‘s scope is a mirror to the LP’s themes of alienation both spiritual and bodily. “Forget living in perfection” Cerezo warbles on the self-excoriating penultimate track “iNNARDS”, as the song details the horrors of being trapped within one’s own decaying form against a crackling snare and ghostly wails. Single “Slitskin” drives her point home further; a lyric like “I am the one who has to walk in my skin” communicates desperate self-actualization in the face of those who would seek to invade or assert dominion over her body. The salvation from this attack on her personhood comes at a price: her story is hers as she sings on “Road of Thousand Tears”, but her final verse is gasped like a dying breath, the weight of existence causing her own final collapse.

R.O.T.T. (inmyskin) is undoubtedly the most challenging LP of Bestial Mouth’s catalogue in all respects; even in its few moments of succour it offers no answers beyond continuing to push forward through existence, thudding kickdrums like plodding footsteps on a push to oblivion. Its bleakness is matched only by the richness of its palette, and the bracing (if chilling) sense of inevitability it deals in – there’s a comfort in knowing other travelers are on the same path to the same final destination.

Buy it.