Black metal has always had a history with helping people express deep wells of pain and sorrow within their lives. The tortured shrieks, the dark lyrics, and the harshness of the music all make for a natural outlet for artists to purge the demons from their minds or at the very least commiserate with other like minded sufferers. Plenty of works within black metal aren’t just about the glory of Satan (as majestic as He is), but rather about surviving in this harsh and uncaring world. Transforming that struggle to thrive in the midst of suffering is a challenge that many black metal bands have taken up and that the best of them have turned into successful careers. Since 2021, few bands have been as successful at turning that personal torment into memorable music as Winds of Tragedy.
The Chilean outfit started as a side project for Sergio González Catalán of Rise to the Sky but has been making a name for itself in its own right. Last year’s debut, As Life Drifts Away, was a stellar introduction to the depressive style of black metal that Winds of Tragedy is adept at creating. This year’s Hating Life proved that the debut was anything but a fluke. I recently caught up with Catalán to talk about the new record and the future of Winds of Tragedy.
First off, how did Winds of Tragedy get started? What made you want to start this type of band?
Sergio: I started Winds Of tragedy as a side project to Rise to the Sky, which is my doom metal band. I wanted to create something aggressive and fast, just to express something different to what I could achieve with Rise to the Sky.
What got you into extreme metal in the first place and who are some of the bigger influences for this particular band?
Sergio: I always liked extreme metal, since I [was] a kid. Not sure why, I just dived further into the underground, and I was always interested in learning about new and different bands. When listening to Unreqvited and Violet Cold, I understood that great music can be made as a solo musician and I decided to make my own band.
For Winds of Tragedy I would say that I am mostly influenced by DSBM bands like I’m In a Coffin, Griefloss, Sorry…., Lifelover, but I mixed those sounds with my usual doom/death style, so Winds of Tragedy does not sound anything like DSBM.
Being that it’s just you in the band, what kind of benefits and challenges does that provide? Are you looking to expand out to other full-time members?
Sergio: The biggest benefit is that I have complete creative freedom and that I can work on music for as long and often as I want. I do a lot of stuff and my schedule is pretty busy, so I try to dedicate all my free time to music. I don’t have plans in the short-term to do a full band because I am focusing my time on composing and improving the project.
What’s your process like for writing the music side of things? Has that changed at all over the years?
Sergio: It has changed a little bit, in the sense that I understand music composition better now that I have worked on it for a while. It is easier for me now to work with melodies, harmonies, and different instruments when composing just because I have gained some experience in that.
My process is straightforward, I usually follow my mood and I play riffs and structures according to what I am leaning to hear at that time. Once I have a basic structure, I work on adding all the instruments and melodies. I finish with the vocals, just to be able to express things vocally with the whole instrumentation.
How do you write the lyrics for the band? What do you turn to for inspiration for the songs?
Sergio: Inspiration comes from the stuff that is happening in my life at the moment. So, lyrics follow my thoughts at the time of writing them. I usually don’t write any fiction, but only things that I experience or believe.
I thought As Life Drifts Away was a Hell of a debut last year. How much of a learning curve was there recording and writing that one and what experience did you gain from it that you’ve used on recordings after that one?
Sergio: That album was a great experience, in both recording and writing. I think that with the final result, and the feedback I received, I understood where I could expand more in my music, writing and sonically. I also identified areas where I could improve.
The new record, Hating Life, is a great follow-up. What was the writing/recording process like for that one? What was the goal with that second record? How happy were you with the final product?
Sergio: I am extremely satisfied with the result of Hating Life. I think the previous album had some things I wanted to change, like the vocal style and the overall sound and vibe of the music. I think Hating Life reflects perfectly the music I wanted to make and the aggressiveness I wanted to hear.
I wanted to ask about a few songs on that album to get the musical/lyrical origin of them. What’s the story behind “Living a Lie?” Was that always planned to be the opener?
Sergio: It is one of my favorite songs I’ve written. At that time, I was feeling very miserable and disappointed about the things I was doing. Depression played a big part, and I just felt like I had lost a lot of opportunities and that I was wasting my time on day-to-day stuff, like living for someone else, hence, living a lie. It naturally became the opener because of its structure and because it was just a song that described the mood of the album very well.
How about the origin of the title track?
Sergio: “Hating Life” describes how bad I felt about living at that point, self-loathing and disappointment was in my mind all the time.
What about the story behind “Death Love?”
Sergio: “Death Love” just describes how thin the line between death and love is. When someone close dies, it hurts so much because you love them so much. It also describes how someone in love can just give themselves completely, hence “drowned in your life, take my eyes, what’s inside.”
How about the story behind that closer, “Remember We Died?”
Sergio: This one is about lost love, wasted opportunity, wasted chances between a couple. You ask yourself what could have been? And back to reality, because “we died” as a couple.
What’s your local scene like where you’re at in Chile? Do you get a chance to play out at all being that the band is just you?
Sergio: Chile has a very active metal scene. New bands all the time, and a lot of good bad-ass black metal out there. However, support is not enough. This is why I decided to create my own label, Tragedy Productions, to release quality black and doom metal, from Chile but also other places. Right now, I am working with around 12 bands, and a lot of new music is coming up in 2023.
Lastly, what’s next for Winds of Tragedy? What are your goals for the future of the band?
Sergio: I am already working on my next album. I want to improve my composition and dive into the depressive side of black metal. So, I think Winds of Tragedy is moving further in that direction. Hope to have something new by the end of this year.
Thank you for the chance to let me talk to you. To you and our readers, please feel free to reach out to me on IG and FB, I always have time to talk about music with fellow listeners and musicians.
Photo at top: Hating Life album cover.