Released in September on GMC Records, “Black Silence” is Vassline’s long-awaited follow-up to 2007’s “Permanence.” The Seoul metalcore act initially intended to put out “Black Silence” in the fall of 2012. But with things moving at a much slower pace than planned, the quintet eventually adopted an “It’ll be out when it’s done.” mentality.
“We started recording in early April 2012, and we thought we could finish the recording process in about three months,” shares guitarist Cho Min-young (aka Chainsaw Cho). “And since it had never taken us more than six weeks to finish post-production stuff before, we figured we could have the album out that autumn. But when we were recording, we fell way behind schedule. Our own self standards are a lot higher now, so we put way more energy and effort into ‘Black Silence’ than we have for any of our past albums. We were trying to be more professional, perfect, and precise.
“Also, we’re all way busier than we were six or seven years ago. A few members are married and have kids. And our day jobs have become more demanding too. Balancing work, family, and band commitments also made it more challenging to get things done on the album quickly.”
Fortunately, the loud and heavy “Black Silence” has proved to be worth the wait. A powerful listen from start to finish, the record was chosen by Hellokpop as last year’s “Best Rock and Alternative Album.” Boasting fourteen tracks, Jambinai and members of Hollow Jan, Pia, Ninesin, and To My Last Breath make guest appearances on several of the cuts adding some different flavors to Vassline’s fantastic sonic offering.
“With (2007’s) ‘Permanence’ we wanted to make an album that was more professional and better produced than our first two albums,” says Cho. “Our second album, (2004’s) ‘Blood of Immortality,’ won the 2005 Korean Music Award for ‘Best Rock Album.’ And we felt a lot of pressure to make a better album than our prize-winning album. At the time, we may have said that we didn’t care that much about making something better, but honestly, we did.
“But with ‘Black Silence,’ we became free from all the pressure and expectations. We approached the album like we approached our very first record. Because a large gap of time had passed since ‘Permanence,’ we thought we could bring a different kind of structure and character to our music.
“I think we did a really good job on ‘Black Silence.’ I think the overall sound is more organized and refined than it has been on past albums. Our recording and mixing engineer took so damn long time to mix it down, but he did a really great job so we can’t complain! I really like how the vocal recordings for the main and the backing vocals came out as well. Our vocalist (Shin Woo-seok) experiments with different styles a lot during practices and shows, but he tends to stick to one style when it comes to actually recording. So the backing vocals need to give more layers and colors to the sound. I think the balance between the main vocals and the backing vocals came out much better on ‘Black Silence’ than on our previous records.”
Saturday night’s show is part of Vassline’s “Battle of the Silence” concert series, which is meant to promote the release of “Black Silence.” The first Battle of the Silence took place in December. And there will be four or five more shows held under the moniker this year. With the Battle of the Silence shows, Vassline are looking to present bills that mix hardcore acts with bands from other genres. December’s Battle of the Silence included punk bands No Brain and Lazybone, and this weekend’s gig will feature blues rock band Lowdown 30 and the soulful, retro-flavored pop rock of Goonam.
“The main idea is to bring out some of the best bands from other scenes and mix them with our music,” says Cho. “As the Korean underground music scene has grown, its bands have gotten separated by categories or genre and it’s getting harder to see other bands grouped together from different genres. We’ve been around more than 17 years now and we have lots of friends in many different scenes, so we wanted to invite them and let the bands and fans experience the different vibes that other music styles have.”
According to Cho, with future Battle of the Silence gigs, Vassline wants to continue to create lineups that are as diverse as possible.
“We’ll even invite idol dance music groups to perform if we can,” he says. “But I’m guessing that won’t happen because we don’t have any friends in that scene. Well, not yet, at least!”
Vassline’s second Battle of the Silence show takes place on Saturday night at Prism Live Hall in Hongdae. The show starts at 6 pm and tickets are 20,000 won at the door. Vassline, Lowdown 30, Knockdown, and Goonam will play. For more information, check out the Facebook event page here.