Nicholas Vasallo

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Nicholas Vasallo
Born (1979-10-28) October 28, 1979 (age 38)
Origin Oakland, California, USA
Genres 21st-century Classical Music, Experimental, Deathcore, extreme metal
Occupation(s) Composer, professor, sound designer, bassist, vocalist
Instruments Vocals, guitar, bass guitar
Years active 1998 – present
Associated acts Oblivion, Antagony
Website Official website

Nicholas Roy Vasallo (born October 28, 1979 in Oakland, California) is an American composer. In 1997, Vasallo graduated from Monte Vista High School in Danville, California, where he began his musical career as an electric guitarist and vocalist in a hardcore band called Y.F.H. (which later became Antagony). He has been credited as being the father of a genre of extreme metal called deathcore.[1][2][3] Vasallo has since evolved from a rock musician into an award-winning composer and professor of music. He is best known for his compositions combining heavy metal sounds and aesthetics with experimental classical techniques. He has released three albums containing his compositions with different independent labels. His music is published by Santa Barbara Music Publishers and released by Innova Recordings. Vasallo is of Filipino and Taiwanese descent.[4]


Vasallo graduated from Diablo Valley College with an A.A. in Music Industry Studies in 2003, and California State University, East Bay with a B.A. in Music Composition in 2007. As a Chancellor's Fellow at University of California, Santa Cruz, Vasallo completed his M.A. in 2009 and subsequently went on to finish his D.M.A. in 2011 as a President's Fellow. His teachers included David Evan Jones, Paul Nauert, David Cope, Hi-Kyung Kim, Frank La Rocca, Jeffrey Miller, Rafael Hernandez, Ken Ueno, and Francois Rose.

He was an Assistant Professor at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona;[5] Lecturer at California State University, East Bay,[6] Gavilan College, University of California, Santa Cruz, and Los Medanos College. Dr. Vasallo is the Director of Music Industry Studies at Diablo Valley College.[7]


As a composer, Vasallo's work has encompassed a variety of genres and projects. Most notably with his extreme metal band Oblivion, deathgrind band Antagony,[8] film music career,[9] and concert music works.[10] Polystylism or Eclecticism has been linked to his compositions[11] which range from electronic, electroacoustic, orchestral, chamber music, solo, choral, and various instrumentations utilizing the overdriven sound of electric guitar.[12] His compositional approach involves mixing disparate elements from Extreme Metal to Taiko, Experimental, Spectral Music, Electronic Music, Algorithmic Music, and various 21st-century compositional techniques. Vasallo is a recipient of the 2010/2011 President's $21k Dissertation-Year Fellowship, the first Arts student to ever receive the honor.[13]

His music has been performed internationally by groups such as Contemporary Music Ensemble Korea,[14] Del Sol String Quartet, San Francisco Choral Artists, Atlanta Schola Cantorum,[15] and Watsonville Taiko.[16] Vasallo models his musical structures on extra-musical phenomenon, including pre-constructed narrative events either created on his own or appropriated. He describes musical ideas and instruments as "complex and surprising characters that exist in reality or imagination."[17] Vasallo's ongoing goal is to hybridize extreme metal with modern classical music. He often designs sound worlds using acoustic instruments with electronic/digital manipulations.[18]

As a performer, Vasallo is active as an bassist and extreme metal vocalist. He is currently the lead vocalist and songwriter for the extreme metal band Oblivion.[19]


  • 2015 The American Prize in Composition for When the War Began[20]
  • 2015 Washington Composers Forum "Inverted Space" Winner for When the War Began[21]
  • 2015 36th Annual Telly Award for “Make Dreams Happen - Cal Poly Pomona's Steinway Initiative”[22]
  • 2014 Cal Poly Pomona Provost's Award for Excellence in Teaching Nomination[23]
  • 2013 San Francisco Classical Voice Music Educator Award First Runner Up[24]
  • 2012 Henryk Mikołaj Górecki International Composers Competition[25]
  • 2011 Indiana State University Contemporary Music Festival Music Now Composition Award[26]
  • 2011 Truman State University/MACRO Composition Award[27]
  • 2011 All the Cool Parts Idol Winner[28]
  • 2010/2011 President's Dissertation-Year Fellowship Winner[29]
  • 2009/2010 UCSC Music Department Discretionary Funds Award
  • 2009 San Francisco Choral Artists New Voices Award[30]
  • 2009 Porter College Graduate Arts Research Grant Award
  • 2008 David Cope Award for Compositional Excellence
  • 2008 Seattle Pianist Collective Award
  • 2008 UCSC Student Orchestral Competition Winner
  • 2008 60x60 Project (Pacific Rim mix) Official Selection[31]
  • 2007/2008/2009 UCSC Chancellors Doctoral Fellowship
  • 2007 CSUEB Student Choral Competition Winner[32]


Studio albums
Year Album details
2007 The Burning
  • Released: 2007
  • Label: Ars Nova Classics (ARSNOVA 0105)[33]
2011 let the machines do it for us
  • Released: 2011
  • Label: Kunaki(PX00ISYXUX)[34]
2012 Monuments Emerge
  • Released: 2012
  • Label: Innova Recordings(innova 821)[35]


  1. ^ No Clean Singing - ANTAGONY – Why you need to know this band…
  2. ^ Metal Archives Nick Vasallo - Encyclopaedia Metallum: The Metal Archives
  3. ^ RiffShop (2017-03-01), Meet The Father of DEATHCORE! | Riffcast - The Songwriting Podcast #1, retrieved 2017-03-03 
  4. ^ "Filipino, Taiwanese" Hapa Voice: A Celebration of Multiracial Identity
  5. ^ "Meet the Maistro: Nick Vasallo"
  6. ^ CSU East Bay faculty page
  7. ^ "New Music Industries Director brings wealth of musical experience "
  8. ^ "Antagony (USA)" Metal Archives
  9. ^ Nick Vasallo Internet Movie Database
  10. ^ "Music alum, lecturer 'guest composer' at Feb. 24 Symphony concert" by Diane Daniels, Inside CSUEB News Blog
  11. ^ "Nick Vasallo: The Burning" by Steve Hicken Sequenza 21
  12. ^ "The Vertigo Series Part I (LIVE @ CSUEB)"
  13. ^ "Music student gets $21,000 fellowship" by Bonnie Horgos - Santa Cruz Sentinel (May 28, 2010)
  14. ^ "Biography: Contemporary Music Ensemble Korea" Pacific Rim Festival
  15. ^ "California composer Nick Vasallo will center the program." CLASSICAL: Atlanta Schola Cantorum, Piccolo Spoleto
  16. ^ "Nicholas Vasallo’s 'Antares Rising'" University of California, Santa Cruz News and Events
  17. ^ YouTube - REDSHIFT - When the War Began (2013). Composed by Nick Vasallo
  19. ^ Oblivion Info
  20. ^ "The American Prize COMPOSER WINNERS: chamber music, 2015"
  21. ^ "Inverted Space: Washington Composers Forum concert"
  22. ^ "The 36th Annual TELLY Awards | Winners"
  23. ^ "C.V. | NICK VASALLO"
  24. ^ "Nick Vasallo, CSUEB alumnus/teacher, earns 'Music Educator of Year' recognition"
  25. ^ "Results of the 1st H.M. Gorecki International Composers Competition - Cracow 2012" "H.M. Gorecki International Composers Competition
  26. ^ "45th Annual Contemporary Music Festival" Indiana State University 45th Annual Contemporary Music Festival
  27. ^ "2011 Composers Competition Results" Macro Music Composers Competition Winners
  28. ^ "2010 ACP Idol results"
  29. ^ "$21,000 President's Dissertation Year Fellowship" by Public Information Office, University of California, Santa Cruz News, June 28, 2010
  30. ^ "Past Winners" San Francisco Choral Artists New Voices Competition
  31. ^ "42) Evanescent Revolutions II Nick Vasallo" Vox Novus 60x60 Project
  32. ^ "CSUEB Choral Composition Competition Winner Nick Vasallo" by Buddy James, California State University, East Bay, Sounds of the Music Department
  33. ^ "Nick Vasallo: The Burning" Ars Nova Classics
  34. ^ "Nicholas Vasallo: let the machines do it for us" Kunaki
  35. ^ "Nick Vasallo: Monuments Emerge" Innova Recordings

External links[edit]