From Beijing in China, 虚极 (Bliss-Illusion) defies historical connotations of the metal genre. Their atmospheric post-black metal sound is emotional, meditative, and genuinely beautiful. Yet more notably distinct is their spiritual themes. Buddhist lyrical content, imagery, and overall aesthetics are front and center for Bliss-Illusion, making for a distinctive breath of fresh air in a genre that is instead branded with occult darkness.
We recently spoke with founding member / guitarist Xiao about the band’s spirituality, Satan, Ghost Bath, upcoming album, and more. You can read the full interview in English and Chinese below.
Also, stay tuned for an extra piece with Xiao’s recommendations of heavy music acts in Asia…
The headline “Chinese Buddhist Post-Black Metal” holds a lot of weight. Can you briefly summarize your relationship with metal? And can you share your connection with Buddhism?
Xiao: Yes, our members all like metal music very much, although I may not be so “pure.” I listen to a lot of other non-black metal music. For me, a large part of the fun of creating music comes from “fusion,” and I also believe that “fusion” will be one of the important factors for the longevity of metal music.
Regarding Buddhism, only our lead singer and lyricist, Dryad, is a real converted Buddhist. The rest of the band are more-so “Buddhist lovers.” When writing our music, I create the atmosphere according to the artistic conception of Dryad’s lyrics. Therefore, “Buddhism” is more of a vessel for us. Its concept is so vast, it encompasses any emotion and idea we want to express.
关于佛教 只有主唱-dryad是真正的皈依了的佛教徒..我们只能是“佛学爱好者”所以都是主唱会来写歌词.并描述给我内容.而我根据他的歌词意境来制作音乐的氛围。所以 “佛教”对于我们来说更多是一种载体..而它的内容量是如此庞大.以至于我们想表达的任何情绪和想法都能包容。
From occult themes in metal pioneers Black Sabbath’s debut album to the imagery and lyricism throughout the Norwegian and beyond black metal scene, it’s undeniable that Satanism is closely associated with metal music. Do you feel misaligned as a black metal adjacent band with a Buddhist message in a genre that has roots and history with a religion that many would see as the counterpoint to your spiritual identity?
Xiao: I don’t think there should be opposition. Although there is no true God in “Buddhism,” like many other religions, Buddhism has heaven, Hell, and some mystic sacrificial rituals. In Buddhism, there is a “demon” similar to Satan – 波旬 (Bo Xun), also known as the Demon King of the Sixth Heaven, the Lord of Six Brahmas, the Lord of Heavenly Demons, or the Lord of Self-Transformation. These concepts provide unlimited possibilities for the creation of our music.
Musically, I think it’s just a difference in form of expression; the core never changed.
哈哈哈 我不觉得这有什么对立的地方…佛教和其他很多宗教一样 都拥有天堂.地狱 和一些神秘主义祭祀仪式.. 虽然“佛教”里没有真正意义上的神仙.但有和撒旦类似的”恶魔”-波旬..这些内容给我们的音乐创作提供了无限的可能…在音乐上来说我觉得只是表现形式上的不同， 内核从来没有改变。
Earlier this year, you unveiled the dynamic 11-minute atmospheric blackgaze single, “须弥山·行 (Sumeru).” Does this material represent what we can expect on your upcoming second studio album?
Xiao: Yes, “须弥山·行 (Sumeru)” is actually the intro of our upcoming second album; there will be three other long songs with different styles. We already have released two singles that correspond with Buddhism: Heaven – “离.极光净天 (Leave Abhassara-Deva)” and Human – “否世 (Mukti).” Combined with the unreleased piece about Hell, the total time will be about fifty minutes. I hope in totality, they sound as rich as a movie. At the same time, I worry about if anyone will be willing to spend time listening to music for such a long time in this fast-paced era.
是的 须弥山·行 (Sumeru) 是我们第二张专辑的intro…第二张专辑里还会有另外三首风格迥异的长歌曲..我们之前已经发布了其中两首的试听.它们对应了佛教里的：天堂-离.极光净天（Leave Abhassara-Deva）。 人间-否世（Mukti）. 和地狱（未发布）..总时长大约会在50分钟左右..我希望它们听起来就像一部电影一样丰富…同时我也很担心在这个快节奏的时代 还会不会有人愿意花时间来听这么长的音乐了…
In 2015, the post-black metal project Ghost Bath self-proclaimed they were from Chongqing in China, when in fact they were actually from rural American “The Magic City,” Minot in North Dakota. What are your thoughts on a band lying and pretending to be Chinese when they were actually American?
Xiao: Well, I think it’s okay. Shouldn’t it be his music that matters? If his music is great, he can also claim to be from Pluto! [laughs]
I understand you will be soon reissuing your debut, 森罗万象 (Shinrabansho), remastered by Dutch studio wizard Déhà (Clouds, God Eat God, Imber Luminis). Do you have a timeline for when that will be available, and do you have anything to reveal of when listeners can hear new music from Bliss-Illusion?
Xiao: Yes, we are about to physically release our debit album LP in Europe very soon; thank you to everyone for liking it! I’d like to thank our dear friend William Spok! It is he who has always helped us with our work in the West. At the same time, thank you Déhà! He remade the LP master tape for us, giving this album a better listening experience. Thank you also to our record distributors in Europe: Time Tombs Productions and Anesthetize. We have had a great time working with them.
About the second album, we have completed the recording of most of the instruments; it will be released next year.
Finally, thank you to Metal Has No Borders for the interview!
是的。我们即将在欧洲发行我们第一张专辑的LP黑胶.应该很快就会发布了。.感谢大家这么喜欢它！.在这里我要感谢我们亲爱的的朋友William spok! 是他一直帮助我们在西方的工作..同时也感谢Déhà！他重新为我们制作了LP母带.让这张专辑拥有了更好的听感。还有感谢我们在欧洲的唱片发行商：Time Tombs Productions和 Anesthetize 与他们一起工作的我们非常愉快.
最后感谢 Metal Has No Borders采访!