ALBUM REVIEW: The Otolith – Folium Limina


My first encounter with SubRosa’s music was back in 2016 as an eighteen year-old who had just gotten a headstart into music journalism, just right after they released For This We Fought the Battle of Ages. That 2016 release was especially remarkable for my eighteen year-old self, because, apart from its droning resonance in a form of menacing atmospheric doom that would drive the listeners into a solemn state of enchantment, the album was also inspired by Yevgeny Zamyatin’s We, a Russia-bound dystopian novel that portrays a state ravaged by modern-day authoritative surveillance; an uncanny prediction towards the terror of the Stalinist regime in real life. The theme and inspiration of the said SubRosa album just instantly ignited the politically conscious side in me at the time. 


It was devastating to hear the news about their breakup in 2019, and I’m pretty sure most of the whole heavy music scene –especially the ones surrounding Profound Lore roster’s enthusiasts– felt the same way as me. So, when I found out that four of SubRosa’s ex-members (except vocalist Rebecca Vernon who’s now in a new project called The Keening) recently formed a new unit called The Otolith, I was beyond stoked to discover what they sound like. 


Turns out that this kind of symphonic doom unit with post-metal and avant-garde undertones suits me really well. As trenchant as the shining of the crescent in the night, their sounds enthral every single entombed soul who comes across them. The cacophony they present is surrounded by the nuance of cataclysmic melancholy packed up with rupturing riffs and sharp melodic violins, as well as thunderous drums. 


On their debut album Folium Limina (Blues Funeral Recordings) as well, a vehement emphasis on darkwave and neofolk is included– comparable to the likes of Amber Asylum and Worm Ouroboros. Not only that they incorporated elements surrounding darkwave and neofolk, the belligerent heaviness of this album will also remind its listeners of the mayhem-inducing harsh noises of Neurosis and the meditative trance of Om


The vocals that Kim Cordray and Sarah Pendleton present help build a dismal atmosphere in a form of incantation-like chants, while Levi Hanna is more on the side of presenting bellowing roar. On this album, it turns out that there are a significant number of tracks that feature enchanting violin lines, namely the tracks ‘Ekpyrotic’ and ‘Sing No Coda’. Meanwhile, harsher-sounding tracks that lean more on the side of doom, such as ‘Andromeda’s Wing’ and ‘Hubris’, also coexist with those contrasting, violin-featuring ethereal tracks. 

‘Andromeda’s Wing’ itself has Neurosis-like influences clearly shown at first listen, and depicts a perfect world-building in a sonical form. The track ‘Bone Dust’ has apocalyptic chamber rock-esque tendencies, similar to the one of Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s. Aside from the chamber rock elements, ‘Bone Dust’ also features a sample of Charlie Chaplin’s renowned speech on the movie The Great Dictator. “You have the love of humanity in your hearts! You don’t hate! Only the unloved hate.” – judging from this part of the famous speech that The Otolith was excerpting, it shows how much this album is trying to envisage the power of collective care.


So far, listening to Folium Limina has been nothing but a catharsis in the midst of this wretched world. It gives me the prospect of looking forward to obtaining and providing collective power; it gives me hope. The kind of chamber music-influenced symphonic doom that is best listened to during tough times, for it’d definitely make you forget about the banality of existence for a while.


Buy the album here:


9 / 10