Carmilla cement their place in their proud Swedish heritage of melodic death metal with their debut album Deflector, released on April 12th, 2019. Blending beauty and dread, their sound is familiar, but at times, unpredictable.
Frontwoman Oksana Blohm Hedlund switches between haunting King Diamond-esque melodies and vicious growls, similar to Angela Gossow, formerly of Arch Enemy. Normally, I struggle with the juxtaposition of clean and aggressive vocals, and I prefer it if singers stick to one or the other, but Hedlund’s incredible range make both work with Carmilla’s style. The operatic moments in particular are enriched by her sensual Scandinavian accent. Some studio magic was necessary to make her clean vocals more effective, like adding a second layer for harmonies, and soaking them in reverb to carry them farther.
The songs deal with matters of our earthly realm and the underworld, making several references to Satan himself in “Devils Feast,” “the Accuser,” and my personal favourite, “Lightbringer” (the last two being historical aliases of the devil). In “Lizzie Borden,” Hedlund tells the tale of the axe-wielding murderess and debates if her infamous trial determined whether she went to Heaven or to Hell. The song closes with Hedlund repeatedly whispering “Lizzie, Lizzie…”
The combination of guitarists Håkan Ålander and Daniel Karlsson add a power metal element to the mix. It’s easy to picture them shredding face to face on top of a mountain in the middle of a lightning storm. Despite the production value and Carmilla’s ambitions to join their country’s ranks of legendary death metal bands, they still come off as fiercely underground. Not necessarily a bad thing, we will just have to see how this band evolves over the years and if they achieve the breakout success they yearn for.
According to their (broken English) band biography, Oksana married drummer Dennis Bohm Hedlund the same month Deflector was released. I can imagine it was the most metal wedding ceremony ever, with the guests headbanging in unison as Oksana walked down the aisle.
Written by Chris Aitkens
*edited by Mike Milito