Forest Swords - Compassion
Critic Score
Based on 16 reviews
2017 Ratings: #158 / 671
User Score
Based on 137 ratings
2017 Ratings: #81
Your Review


A.V. Club

Compassion may feel especially timely, but music this passionately realized will always be worth revisiting.

Resident Advisor

It is poignant and ragged with suffering, but it doesn't dwell there. It is also bright, optimistic and euphoric.

‘Compassion’ is a constant fight between past and present, light and dark, failure and hope. The balance is constantly sliding from one side to the other, so you never know which side will win. In a world where you’re never quite sure what will happen next, you’re only hope is that compassion will shine through.
The 405
For the first time in four years, UK producer Forest Swords returns with a stellar apocalyptic album.
Loud and Quiet

While ‘Compassion’ isn’t an ode to the fissures and fallout of Brexit, Trump and the chaos in the Middle East, it captures the uncertainty and insecurity perfectly, manifesting itself as an incongruent collection of tracks that seep deep.


While Barnes is definitely well-versed in musical melancholy, there's also a thoughtful, sensitive part to balance all this pathos.


It’s at times heart-stopping and at others movingly barren, but is always thoroughly arresting.


This is a dazzling and unique album that often veers from reassuring to disconcerting in the space of a single track.


Forest Swords was already becoming quickly respected for his deftness of touch when dealing with both musical and emotional tone. 'Compassion' demonstrates he is very capable of weaving them together until they are intrinsically entwined.


With all of his projects, Barnes continues to challenge himself and his audience, and Compassion's fascinating mix of power and atmosphere is the most finely honed version of Forest Swords yet.

Tiny Mix Tapes

It is an attempt, and an honest one at that, to ply art toward an aim and to not rest in detachment. It wears sublimity and austerity yet remains entirely welcoming.

The Needle Drop

On his sophomore album Compassion, Forest Swords' unique style of dramatic, meditative, and primal ambient dub offers some much needed respite from the trend-chasing nature of modern electronic music.


While Forest Swords has always hidden hooks in his music that reveal themselves upon repeat listens, Compassion is by far his most approachable album at first pass.

Crack Magazine

If you find chopped, ghoulish vocal snippets and reverb-drenched, spectral dub-leanings dispiriting, then there’s no escaping that this is the defining Forest Swords aesthetic. But if you find murky solace in the subterranean melancholy of Barnes’ productions, then Compassion is a rewarding listen.

The Skinny

Compassion may not feel complete yet, but it’s an exciting portent of what may yet come.

Pretty Much Amazing
Forest Swords' second record is simplistic on purpose, but that doesn’t make it feel less empty.
May 5, 2017*
Forest Swords has given anxiety a voice here, things glitch slowly and in a broken manner

As a long time listener of Forest Swords one can't help but feel that the sonic dynasty Forest Swords had been laboring towards has finally been reached, as evidenced by The Highest Flood,

Each and every song seems to have a different instrument at its core, which Matt has managed to master in his own way, suited for his world of sound. This album will no doubt be seminal to the Forest Swords universe, ... read more
Jul 19, 2017
Matthew Barnes does some spacy, dense and fueled comeback with Compassion bringing some of his punchiest efforts to date without forgetting his mark. I really love how every track here it's almost cinematic and comprehends a different story, it's not meant to be listened once and that's something special, when a song challenges you to decipher its meaning and symbols. There are some moments where the vocal sampling can get a bit annoying but it always have something to do with the theme, like ... read more
Jul 10, 2017
Matthew Barnes’ excellently juggles several different genres and sounds at once without ever losing his ear for continuity or unity

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Jun 30, 2017
This album is fine. I like the concept, the whole album feels like an ominous ceremony before a mythical apocalypse, but I didn't love the fuzzy, glitchy production and choppy sampling, and the mood of the tracks, especially through the first third, feel repetitive.

Full review:
May 21, 2017
Fav Tracks: Vandalism, Knife Edge
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Added on: March 30, 2017