Forest Swords is not one to rush out a project. Ever since his breakthrough EP, Dagger Paths, he’s taken his time: he may keep us waiting, but the results are always more than worth it.
Indeed, it took him three years to deliver his proper debut LP following that EP, Engravings. Both projects felt distinctly tied to Matthew Barnes’ choice of moniker: they were mysterious, even haunting, and certainly naturalistic. You could easily feel the influence of Asian history and folklore on his work.
It took him nearly another four years to release his sophomore album, but it found him yearning for more, reaching in new directions to supreme effect. Compassion very much mirrored its title and striking artwork: it was patient, wounded, and, above all, deeply human. It was hard to imagine what he might do next.
Now, following a wait of more than six years, he’s finally ready to answer that question. Forest Swords is set for a grand return with his third album, Bolted. As the title itself readily implies, it appears a restless Barnes is venturing down yet another path.
To accompany the album announcement, he’s shared his latest single, “The Low”. It matches the album’s ominous title, harsh and grueling, but entirely gripping. It’s the most mechanical Forest Swords has ever sounded, often sounding akin to some hellish machine clanking and croaking, near the end of its operational life. Atop this are indecipherable vocals that seem to coax you towards whatever subterranean lair the music emanates from. As layers of carefully orchestrated noise join the fray, “The Low” grows all but chaotic, with Barnes knowing just when to pull back before plunging entirely in the abyss. It may be calling us towards our doom, but Forest Swords makes the journey irresistible. If this is any indication of the overall journey that Bolted promises to take, the album is an incredibly exciting prospect indeed.
Listen to “The Low” below, and look out for Bolted come October 20th via Ninja Tune.