Eye for an Eye isn’t the usual kind of album readers would expect to encounter on a platform such as Antichrist. So why is it here? Well the record label itself plays no small part in things. Svart Records are one of the shining lights of the extreme metal underground. Pretty much anything that passes through their fingers is worthy of investigation and this album, the second from acclaimed solo artist Kimi Kärki, is no different.
In Finland he is recognised not only as an inspired guitar playing singer songwriter but also as a respected cultural historian. Musically Kärki treads the same somnambulist boards as the likes of Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits and in places the maverick Scottish poet, the late Ivor Cutler.
His music is down there with the deadbeats, dispossessed and downtrodden. This has made him a natural bedfellow with the doom fraternity while his languid approach also helps gather interest from followers of folk music.
Kärki’s first solo full length release was The Bone of My Bones (2013) also issued via Svart Records. On Eye for an Eye Kärki pulls magically not only at his guitar strings but at your metaphorical heart strings as well.
The songs are melancholic, mesmerising and moving with heavenly harmonies and a velvet cushion of percussive persuasion helping to seal the warmth in. The songs are emotive with Kärki’s sonic shapes interwoven through different shades of love and all that goes with it, both joy and sorrow.
While Kärki’s clear and crisp delivery is a charming delight, it’s not the only voice that you hear on Eye for an Eye. Patrick Walker of both Warning and 40 Watt Sun, contributes some guest vocals as does John Richardson, an old school musician and the Professor of Musicology at University of Turku. We may be hearing more of Richardson too in the future with his debut album just released, again via Svart.
Female tones help ensure a fully holistic rounded sound on Eye for an Eye with Anna-Elena Pääkkölä and Pirita Känkänen contributing some stunning harmonies, such as on ‘The River of Shadows,’ that marry delicately alongside Kärki’s sombre delivery.
When Kärki sings – as he does on the painfully bleak ‘Augurs of Winter’ – ‘the world could end today and no-one would notice at all,’ you almost feel obliged to take a peek outside to see if his deathly prediction carries any truth.
While Kärki’s voice is the dominant thread, the gentle engine that ticks this record over, the musical accompaniment on the likes of ‘Lustful, Wrathful, Sullen’ add shape and symmetry to an album that grows on you with every listen.
Kärki’s sincerity at times makes it feel as though you’re imposing on personal grief and suffering just by listening. But through such comprehensively honest songwriting emerges strength and conviction that help make this such an absorbing album. ‘Spearhead’ is a powerful and evocative story from the bloodied battlefields of war which Kärki somehow transforms into a poignant and crushingly moving song.
Kärki has written compositions for the likes of Reverend Bizarre and Lord Vicar, as his mental approach clearly resonates with doom bands. But on Eye for an Eye it’s all about Kärki himself.
Approach with the same kind of openness that this fine Finnish singer has applied to this original and compelling piece of work and you’re unlikely to be disappointed.
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