There is no surprise that Asia is one of the most innovative continents related to, well, everything. Their culture and way of perception have become present in the extreme metal genre, too. From shoegaze, post-black, and blackgaze to symphonic elements or D’n’B, they all have been inserted by Asian artists into extreme music.

Blackgaze has really developed with the appearance of French band Alcest, once with their “Souvenir D’un Autre Monde” released in 2007. An increasing number of bands started to transcend their blackened origins since then, including Unreqvited, Heretoir, Fen, or An Autumn for Crippled Children.

But back to TASSI. Based on a character created by Dryad, TASSI is a bard in the universe of heaven and a man who embarks on an esoteric and mystical journey to find his lover, Uni.

Once you’re diving into TASSI‘s newest album, “Northland III,” a new world is revealed that can either blow your mind or break your heart. Some may not understand metal or blackgaze, but TASSI speaks in a language you can finally interpret. With “Northland III,” it’s just not enough to listen to it; you wanna chew on it and enjoy its divine flavor.

TASSI deals in emotion from the opening track ‘星宫 (Star Palace).’ As a piece of music, the track and album perfectly encapsulate what the project is all about – an unmistakably romantic ache, a longing, and an expression of beauty and infatuation with the world so deep it hurts.

Without sacrificing the melancholy that underpinned the blackgaze genre, the first minute of the second track ‘荒海之雾 (Fog Of The Bleak Sea)’ reminds me of Coldworld’s latest releases. As the song plays by, it appears to be one of the purest musical manifestations you have ever heard, and it’s incredibly relieving that TASSI still carries the emotional core that made him so remarkable.

While the emotional core may seem intact on every song, both the songwriting and vocals are variable. From beautifully mastered clean vocals to desperate screams, TASSI makes us finally comprehend and embrace our purpose. Turning himself into a thinker, he drives from “Northland III,” an existentialist concept.

On ‘平衡之轮 (Equilibrium Reincarnation)’ and ‘仙水 (Fairy),’ the half-whispered vocal harmonies float sweetly above the dreamy yet atmospheric instrumental. Regardless of how sweet the vocals may seem, they undeniably lead to heavy memories or moments throughout the album. With “Northland III,” you slip into a bittersweet state of voluntary amnesia, driven by the striking guitar melody.  

‘月下夜想 (Nostalgia)’ brings some hushed aggressiveness; TASSI‘s whispered roars and screams veer the track back towards black metal. The manifesto is balanced by nostalgic (what else?) shoegaze riffs, and as the track slowly dies, you’re entering the peaceful world of ‘Merkabah.’ The birds’ chirp transcends you to your childhood lost memories, feeling almost like a slap in the face. Once you get back to reality, you rinse and repeat.

‘火湖 (Lake Of Fire)’ and ‘怪想录II (Memoir Of Eerie Fantasies II)’ add new nuances to the album. While the desperate and cold instrumental reminds me of Vanhelga, the Nattramn (Silencer)-like vocals bring a unique sense to TASSI‘s music. The depressive-suicidal vocals instantly cut you off in hundredths of pieces—nothing new in the Beijing-based artist’s music.

As a result, there could be no other track to end the album. ‘月吟 (The Voice Of The Luna)’ leaves you hanging on for your life. The Lustre-esque levels of melancholy and loneliness can let you be absolutely crushed. All these comparisons come to surprise the beautiful album while still maintaining a sense of TASSI‘s own identity.

On “Northland III,” every track stands as a powerful statement on its own. The album is a piece of music caught between worlds, material and immaterial, and finally between TASSI‘s universe. “Northland III” is redefining TASSI‘s history, as it feels like a masterpiece, tearing you apart while making you feel whole.

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