Winds of Tragedy – As Life Drifts Away Review

At this point, discussing the impressive release schedule for music written by Sergio Catalán feels redundant. In fewer than three years of activity, Rise to the Sky has released five full-length albums alongside two EPs, one of which came out fewer than six weeks ago. And yet, here he is again, the main man of the one-man (alongside drummer Emidio Alexandre of Dark Oath) project Winds of Tragedy, only this time, the name of the game is black metal, not doom, and As Life Drifts Away is not the latest in a long line of releases, but the debut. How does Catalán do with a fresh project, a new style, and the world at his doorstep?

About the same, actually; Catalán’s style is a vast shadow cast over As Life Drifts Away. Opener “Our Time Is Gone” is a strong example, employing many of the hallmarks of the black metal style—tremolos, blast beats, guitar-led melodies—and blending them with many of the hallmarks of Rise to the Sky records—funereal growls, heavy, atmospheric keyboards, and “weepy,” melodeath guitar leads. The slow strings that open “Everything Is Dying” prelude a death-doom-esque track that could, for the most part, easily have been on any Rise to the Sky album, only ramping up in intensity towards the end. Because of this, it doesn’t feel fully accurate to say that As Life Drifts Away is a black metal album, if only because the music is so awash in melancholy. For all the aforementioned hallmarks, Winds of Tragedy has a lot of doom to it, and there are certainly times throughout where I feel like I just wrote this review.

Still, Sergio Catalán being Sergio Catalán means there are a lot of strong, emotional, and affecting moments throughout the comparatively quick 37 minutes of As Life Drifts Away. “Stay” balances melancholy and intensity well, growing in power right up to the final chord, while “Failed This Life” comes to life with gritty, beautiful fare, making perfect use of the strong drumming to build a catharsis that is as painful as it is effective. “Winds of Ruin” brings out an acoustic guitar to prelude its manic power, and the contrast works very well. It helps, especially given the crushing nature of the style, that most songs are brief, clocking in between 4 and 5 minutes each. In this way, Winds of Tragedy reiterates its frontman’s enduring ability to write strong, affecting melancholic metal in any genre.

Balancing expectations with results can be tricky. On the one hand, tracks like “A Cold Grave” and “You and I” do have a distinct “Rise to the Sky but with tremolo” feel to them. On a personal level, I was excited to see how Catalán could expand his artistic vision under a new moniker and a new style. In that sense, my initial reaction to As Life Drifts Away was one of disappointment. On the other hand, I really didn’t have a reason to think that Catalán would sound like anyone other than Catalán in the same way I expect Déhà and Slow to sound similar to one another. It hardly seems fair to dislike any element of Winds of Tragedy on those grounds alone. Still, the observation does inform my one primary criticism of the album: it isn’t very aggressive. Catalán’s roars are very well-suited for the roaring doom metal that is his usual fare, but here they depend on other instruments to offer resonance. But the drumming is strangely muted—so much so that I didn’t realize there was a live drummer on this one until fairly far into the reviewing process—and the lead guitars are so sad. As a result, As Life Drifts Away feels more like fast-paced doom metal than any kind of black metal I’m familiar with—and that feels like a missed opportunity.

Obviously, there is no such thing as an “objective review,” but I see no reason to let my personal expectations get in the way here: As Life Drifts Away is a strong start for Winds of Tragedy. Regardless of what I expected going in, this is ultimately a strong, moving display of melancholic metal. I do hope to hear the project spread its wings more in the future, but in the meantime, I’m happy to sit with this one. Hopefully, the life doesn’t drift out of it anytime soon.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 4 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Belfry Records
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: June 17th, 2022

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