Winds of Tragedy – Hating Life Review

Sergio González Catalán—can anyone stop this man? Does anyone want to? Year after year, EP after EP, full-length after full-length, there is no slowing him down. Less than two months into 2023, the man behind Rise to the Sky and Winds of Tragedy is back with another full-length, the sophomore album for his latter black metal project. Handling pretty much everything except drums (Emidio Ramos)1 and production (Filippos Koliopanos), Hating Life feels like a natural extension of the Winds of Tragedy style, and a logical followup to As Life Drifts Away. Doomy, gloomy, and unmistakably black metal, how does Hating Life measure up to its predecessor?

For those familiar with Catalán’s style, Hating Life will bring few surprises. At its core, it’s a black metal album, with blast beats, tremolo riffing, and a fair share of anger behind the songwriting. It also bears Winds of Tragedy’s signature depressive approach to the style, which is unmistakably distinct from the literal depressive black metal style. Hating Life expresses its melancholy in the drawl of its growling, the bleakness of its lyrics, and what I can only describe as its slow pace, despite the obvious presence of high-speed drumming and guitar work. As black metal goes, this is downright dreary—but in its own, unique way.

So if you weren’t a fan of Winds of Tragedy before now, Hating Life is unlikely to change your position. Songs like “No Reason to Go on” and “Wake Me Up from This Act” are full of Rise to the Sky-isms and gloom, dominated by drawling growls and built upon singular ideas that are expanded into full songs. In fact, these two feel, on some level, like one single song; I’ve mistaken one for the other in the past. These are the weak points of the album—baseline, solid, familiar Winds of Tragedy, melding doom and black metal into monolithic pieces that contain the hallmarks of black metal with little of the feel. And yet, I can’t say anything bad about them either; they’re emotive, cathartic, and they get the job done, representing a style that Catalán has thoroughly made his own time and time again. As a result, the brevity of the album—seven tracks over thirty-five minutes—works in its favor, never feeling overdone or stale despite the general gloom.

Following this idea, it should come as no surprise that the highlights of Hating Life are the songs that take different paths to reach these destinations. Opener “Living a Lie,” for example, weaves in stirring acoustic guitar to open and towards the end of the song. It’s the most obvious callback to Rise to the Sky on the album, but it works, soaking up all of the track’s despair and channeling it into an interlude that complements the surrounding black metal, which is done very well—the song’s upbeat2 gallop acting as a superb driver for the anger and anguish beneath. The title track creates a sense of urgency with its lead guitar in an effective assault on the listener’s peace of mind, a theme repeated in “Remember We Died” at the album’s close. It may feel repetitive if it weren’t so well done; instead, these songs feel morbidly triumphant in their bold declarations of pain.

I like Hating Life, and I like the music of Winds of Tragedy. Still, I’m tempted to summarize the album as uneven. There’s a bit of new and exciting, a bit of familiar, and a sense of safety to the whole. As a sophomore, Hating Life feels like a project testing the waters for something new, small steps taken towards a newer approach to black metal. Often it meets expectations and sometimes it exceeds them, but never feels disappointing. As such, I’m looking forward to the next leap forward for Winds of Tragedy, and eager to see how Catalán expands on what he’s done here.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 4 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Tragedy Productions
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: February 17th, 2023

Show 2 footnotes

  1. I really can’t express enough how much better Catalán’s albums sound when he’s able to work with a live drummer. Hoping to hear more of Ramos in the future!
  2. I use this term here extremely loosely.
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