For the first time in four years, UK producer Forest Swords returns with a stellar apocalyptic album. Compassion follows 2013’s Engravings and sees Forest Swords (aka Matthew Barnes) make the jump from Tri-Angle to Ninja Tune, becoming label mates with the likes of Actress, Lapalux and Bonobo. Each previous Forest Swords release has been rapturously received, and Compassion is set to be no different as it’s a brilliant album – well worth the four year wait.

There’s an incredible amount of space at play on Compassion; the instrumentation and samples inhale and exhale, breathing life into the tracks. According to Barnes the album is reflective of the current times: “Like many, with all that’s been going on since I started making the record, I’ve struggled to see any kind of light at the end of the tunnel, so I realised there’s some sort of power in trying to create our own instead.”

From opener ‘War It’, with its mournful samples and popping drums it’s clear that Forest Swords' delicate touch is back. Each audio layer is delicately produced and meticulously woven together. The entire album ebbs and flows as one and to separate individual tracks does a disservice to the album as a whole. In the age of playlists and streaming this sentiment is wishful thinking, but Ninja Tune have selected two fantastic lead singles in ‘The Highest Flood’ and ‘Arms Out’.

The album artwork depicts a man in the foetal position with a large boulder lying on his knees threatening to fall – yet his face is placid. The weight and impact of Compassion is as heavy as that boulder, but unlike the man on the cover, fans of dark electronic music will crack a smile as Forest Swords has found the winning formula once again.