Forest Swords was one of the first artists that sold me on Pitchfork back in my younger days. Then, there was no other way I would have found out about an artist like that. His sound was so exotic, so out of the norm for my high-schooler self. Though Pitchfork has lost a bit of its mystique for me by now, Forest Swords stays as enthralling and enigmatic as ever with Engravings. His sound, at first sorted with witch house, transcends these tags with his unique personality and his affinity for the foreign. Many of the sounds on here are so warped past familiarity that their origin becomes recognizable. From the squawking tropical bird that passes for melody on “Thor’s Stone” to the distorted siren calls of the ethnically unidentifiable vocals smeared all over the album, Engravings subverts one’s minds propensity attach every sound it’s given with familiar context. And with that the world of Forest Swords becomes a world of its own. It’s a reflection of ours, surely, but you are never spoonfed an easy analog to compare it to. All it takes is the very first vocal vacuum of “Gathering” to be sucked into his swampy vision. Though dark, this album is never without beauty, as the tragic strings that close “Onward” can attest to. Here lies my favorite moment of the album, where tribal drums meld join into the spellbinding harmony and the two inch on to transcendence. By refracting sound beyond the recognizable, Engravings allows us to rise above the limitations of both context and at times even the mind itself.