May 202016

Surrounding the Earth logo


Long-time followers of our site will be familiar with Nick Vasallo, but for newcomers in the audience, he is the lead vocalist and songwriter for the excellent technical death metal band Oblivion — and he has a Ph.D. in Music, he is the Director of Music Industry Studies at Diablo Valley College and Artistic Director for Composers, Inc., and he is a composer of contemporary classical music whose works have been performed internationally.

When last we featured him in these pages (here), the subject was a video for an experimental composition named “Inches From Freedom” performed by the guitar-and-drum duo known as The Living Earth Show (Travis Andrews and Andrew Meyerson) and two clarinetists — John McCowen and Gleb Kanasevich (yes, THE death metal clarinet cover guy).

Since then Vasallo (vocals/guitar) and those same four other musicians have formed a new project called Surrounding the Earth, and what we have for you today is a video for a 13-minute opus composed by Vasallo and performed by Surrounding the Earth called “Part I“.


Surrounding the Earth vid clip


“Part I” was recorded this spring with metal producer Zack Ohren (Castle Ultimate Studios), and also includes guest studio performances by Weston Olencki (trombone) and the Mobius Trio (gang vocals). The video was filmed by Taylor Joseph Rankin, Gabriel Pena-Ramos, and Martin Azevedo.

“Part I” was originally titled “East-West Doom Test”, reflecting both the bi-coastal locations of the two clarinetists and the composition’s integration of classical experimentalism and sludge/doom metal. The music is heavy, vibrant, and fascinating — and the video is just as fascinating to watch as the music is to hear.

Surrounding the Earth plan to record a full-length album and to perform live, presenting a stage production “in spaces not traditionally friendly to classical music: the punk and metal clubs in which Vasallo originally spawned his musical language”.

And with that, I leave you the debut of “Part I” by Surrounding the Earth:



  1. wow!

  2. Damn, that was entrancing. I really hope there’s more in store from this assemblage of men.

  3. The clip from 2:28… I’ve never seen someone rock a clarinet like that before 🙂 Now that’s immersing yourself in the music. To intentionally quote Bruce Lee incorrect:
    “You must be shapeless, formless, like music. When you put music on a tape, it becomes the tape. When you put music on a vinyl, it becomes the vinyl. When you put music on a CD, it becomes the CD. Music can soar and it can crash. Become like music my friend.”

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