Review – Vicinity – VIII

Out of Trondheim, in the cold shores of Norway, Vicinity have been crafting their mix of progressive metal, melodies and sophisticated rhythm patterns since 2006. Now reaching their third studio album, the five-piece has reached the perfect mix in their sound. ‘VIII’ is a mature progressive metal album, with a fresh approach to composition.

Putting new influences to work in their already highly rich melting pot of references, ‘VIII’ is a collection of progressive metal songs where the Norwegians drifted to a heavier, more concise sound than in the previous releases. The final result can please traditional prog fans of bands such as Threshold, as well as followers of newer acts such as Haken. Mixing duties in “VIII” were handled by Øyvind Voldmo Larsen (Seventh Wonder, Circus Maximus, Withem) and mastering was done at Fascination Street Studios by Tony Lindgren (Ihsahn, James LaBrie, Leprous, Opeth).

Vicinity was founded in 2006 by Kim-Marius H. Olsen, Frode Lillevold and Kristian Nergård. Vocalist Alexander K. Lykke soon joined the blend making the first complete lineup. With the EP ‘Diffusion of Innovation’, the band’s first official release, Vicinity found its true style, writing longer, more technical progressive compositions. In 2012 the band recorded their debut full-length album, ‘Awakening’, making this the debut recording of the new bass player Pierre Schmidt-Melbye, who joined the band following Nergård’s departure in 2009. Reidulf Wormdal joined the recording as a session keyboard player. The album was mixed by André Alvinzi and mastered by Jens Bogren at Fascination Street Studios, and was released by Indie Distribution and Pug-Nose Records in the fall 2013.

In 2015 Vicinity went to work with their new album ‘Recurrence’ which was released by Mighty Music in 2017. The drums were recorded at Skarp Studio, known for producing the drums for bands like Triosphere and Keep of Kalessin. Christer-André Cederberg, known for mixing ‘Nine’ and ‘Havoc’ for Circus Maximus and several releases by Anathema was enlisted to mix the album. Jens Bogren once again handled mastering duties. Following the release, Vicinity played concerts in Trondheim and Oslo, and was booked to play festivals like Prøvesprengning and Totsås Rock.

Preparations for the upcoming album started in 2020 at Skansen Lydstudio, but further progress was impaired partly by Covid and the fact that, after 15 years in the band, Lykke decided in 2022 to pursue other interests and in agreement with the band decided to part ways. Vicinity tried out vocalist Erling Malm (Articulus, Endolith) at a live show in Trondheim, and decided then and there that he would be the vocalist going forward, and he immediately started working on vocals for “VIII”, adding more diversity to the singing department of the band.

A rather impressive introduction from the PR company for the third full length Vicinity release and, having reviewed both ‘Awakening’ and ‘Recurrrence’, I feel I’m in a perfect place to critique this latest offering. In fact I’m really looking forward to it and, while disappointed that Alexander has chosen to step aside, I’m excited to hear what Erling brings to the mix!

I have to admit that, after quite a few listens, ‘VIII’ is becoming something of a standard in my listening rotation. While there is nothing radically different in it’s delivery of superb progressive metal, it is done so bloody damn good that I can’t help but get lost in the dynamic, hard edged music and its flawless delivery. Power, poise passion and soul emanate from this impressive release in spades, just check out DKE to hear musicians at the top of their game and having immense fun on an instrumental track that has hints of prime era Dream Theater in the bass, drums and guitar. In fact I almost thought I was hearing Glass Prison from DT’s ‘Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence’ at first, it’s that good.

I have spent a lot of time listening to traditional 70’s style prog and also a lot of jazz fusion music over the last couple of months and, though I love that sort of music, listening to this brilliantly produced release has been like a breath of fresh air to me aurally. Hard hitting but cleanly delivered music and, thanks to Erling, powerful and expressive vocals combine to create a sonic delight of epic proportions on tracks such as lengthy opener, the majestic Promised Paradise and the musical thrill ride that is Purpose, a song that is like a beacon of hope in the darkness but this electrifying album never lets up in its intensity, the pomp and power of The Singularity is another breathtaking highlight with its stirring delivery and intelligent songwriting. The beautiful, wistful wonder of Shape of Life gives an oasis of calm to the thrill seeking brilliance of the rest of the album and is as polished as any of the other tracks.

Perhaps the highlight of the album, but that’s like saying which of your kids you like the best, is the closing epic Face the Rain which leads you through a whole gamut of emotions and ebbs and flows perfectly. There’s heart and soul in every note of this rousing and riveting track and a primeval power striving to break out, drums hewn out of granite are the foundation but all the musicians are at the top of their game and Erling delivers his best vocal performance on the album, a song that just keeps on giving.

With the dynamic brilliance of ‘VIII’, Vicinity return triumphant with a prog-metal album for the ages. Impeccably performed and delivered, this is one release that should definitely be on your prog radar….

Released 8th March, 2024.

Order the album here:

Søgeresultater for “Vicinity” – TargetShop

Or from bandcamp here:

VIII | Vicinity (

Review – Vicinity – Recurrence – by Progradar

“I have a small inkling that we could be listening to a band that could, if not should, turn out to be a big hit. The way the songs just flow perfectly, the brilliant musicianship and that fantastic voice all deserve success on a major scale. Vicinity stands comparison with any of the new bands out there and would not be awed by the greats. For a first full length album, Awakening is really rather good. I suggest you go out and buy it….now.”

I wrote those words back in October 2013 about Vicinity’s debut release ‘Awakening’ and it wasn’t until I got a message from vocalist Alexander K. Lykke recently that I realised how much time had passed since its release. Isn’t it about time we had a new album from these talented Scandanavians?

Funnily enough, that’s what Alexander was wanting to talk to me about, did I want a promo copy of their new album ‘Recurrence’, due to be released on the 21st of April? Of course I bloody did!!!

Fast forward a few weeks and here is the review…

First, a precis of the press release…

Vicinity are Alexander K. Lykke – Vocals,  Kim-Marius H. Olsen – Guitars,  Frode Lillevold – Drums,  Pierre-Nicolai H. Schmidt-Melbye – Bass and Ivar A. Nyland – Keyboards and Synths.

The Norwegian progressive metal band Vicinity is back with a follow up to the critically acclaimed album ‘Awakening’ (2013), put on best newcomer lists by several webzines and Norwegian national radio (NRK P3). Their new creation, ‘Recurrence’, is a concept album that debates the cyclic nature of humanity, both as a whole and at more personal levels, while highlighting both the technical- and melodic aspects familiar to the progressive metal genre.

With ‘Recurrence’ the band set out to make an album that would be more than just the sum of its tracks, and envisioned an album where the songs would float into each other. The major theme of the album, lyrically, became: the cyclic nature of the human condition. Within that theme the lyrics explore and challenge topics like dementia and memory, and whether the world might be a better place without what humanity has become.

The band wanted to challenge themselves technically, but always keeping the songs and the album as a whole in focus. The result is an album of six tracks, varying in length from 5 to 22 minutes per song, in the tradition of bands like Circus Maximus, Threshold, Arena and early Dream Theater.

So, sounds very promising from the Press Release but let’s get right into the nitty-gritty and form our own opinion shall we?

The Unwritten Manifest gets us off to a cracking start with an excellent, urgent riff and stylish keyboard tone. It’s almost 80’s in its feel before we have a break and we set off on a hell-for-leather prog-metal fest of impressive licks and dynamic, powerful drumming. Alexander’s vocals seem to have got even better, his voice soars and he has no trouble hitting even the highest notes. I’ve been listening to a lot of Ultravox recently and Ivar’s synth playing doesn’t half remind me of Billy Currie and gives an additional dimension to the band’s sound. At times the vocals even venture off into Symphonic Prog territory and Alexander just takes it all in his stride. a pretty impressive opening to the album it must be said!

We segue straight into Phoenix and the guitar and keyboard opening does give that feel of something arising, Phoenix-like, from the flames. The technical ability of these guys is second to none and you feel they are really getting into the groove on this track as it flows immediately and perfectly. There’s a compelling and pressing feel to the vocals and a persuasive dynamism to the whole track as it continues to transfix you with its addictive guitar riffing and keyboard runs. You want vocal harmonies, you got them in spades my friend and Pierre-Nicolai’s impressive bass playing drives everything along, aided and abetted by Frode’s weighty drums. A highlight is the superb guitar run from Kim to wards the end, this song comes in at a tad under eleven minutes but it flies by in a haze of singular musical excellence to leave you breathless at the close.

So, imagine someone came up to you and said “Write me an archetypal Prog-Metal track with an addictive, soaring chorus, catchy riffs and a dynamic rhythm section and, while you’re at it, throw me in some more intricate, proggy sections…”, humour me here, okay? Then I’m pretty certain that if you came up with Mountainfall they’d class you as the prog-metal version of Diane Warren. Yes, from the first note, this track really is that good, there’s an immediacy to it that never fades, no matter how many times you listen to it (and, trust me, I’ve listened to it a LOT!), it is near prog-metal perfection. It is on this song that Vicinity prove what I’ve been thinking from the first listen to the album, they really have stepped up many leagues and should be classed in the top echelon of acts in this genre. The chorus is an insane earworm, you just will not be able to get it out of your head, Kim lets fly with some incredible guitar playing and Ivar makes the keyboards talk to you in improbable ways. Add in an uber-tight rhythm section and you really couldn’t ask for any more!

A relatively short track at five and half minutes, Extinction is a super-cool song that mixes classy riffs and edgy vocals to give it an instancy that sits perfectly alongside another chorus from the Vicinity book of memorable sing-alongs. It moves through your atmosphere at the speed of sound (see what I did there?) dragging you willingly in its wake. The drumming is that intense and hyper that you wonder if Frode had to grow an extra pair of arms to be able to do it but, no, it’s just his innate ability, crikey, these guys can really play!

These’s another immediate segue into Immaterial Failure and the prog-metal juggernaut takes a breath with a more laid back introduction. Slow and measured it may be but it’s still mighty imposing. There is a feel that this song is building up to something more monumental and profound. Alexander has a more emotive feel to his vocal delivery and the rest of the band are in absorbing mode, each note resounding in your ears, especially Pierre-Nicolai’s descriptive bass playing. The foot is lifted slightly off the break pedal for a short while to add  a more pressing edge to the song but that moderate, deliberate fundation remains. We are treated to a scintillating solo from Kim-Marius’ fiery guitar and more of that cultured bass playing, these musicians can do restrained just as well as they can rock your socks off.

There’s no pause as we make the transition into The Long Goodbye, the longest and weightiest track on the album. A polished introduction consisting of Alexander’s haunting vocal laid over an ethereal piano note mesmerises you before a wistful guitar takes up the mantle. The blue touch paper is then lit and the energetic drums join a compelling, staccato guitar to drive things along, Prog-Metal epic? yep, here we go! Vicinity may have been influenced by early Dream TheaterCircus Maximus and the like but they are creating their own signature sound which is wholly evident on this intense, superb track. High notes are hit with precision on the vocals, the riffs almost have a life of their own and the bass and drums have a vibrancy that is electric to hear and feel. It’s almost as if this song compresses time, it may be over twenty-two minutes long but never outstays its welcome as its gravitational pull draws you in and doesn’t let go. Trust me, you will find yourself reaching out for the volume control to ramp it right up and your neck will ache from all the nodding along to the beat you will be doing. Vicinity can do intricate and complex as well as anybody but it is there for a reason, not just for showing off, there is a section towards the middle of the track where this is very apparent. This song, like the rest of the album, is a very absorbing listen as little nuances makes themselves known with repeated listens, giving the listener an insight into the music and the ethos of the band. So, I’ve come to the end of the album, what do I do now? Well, like a fantastic drive down an incredible road, there is only one thing to do, turn round and do it all again, just press play…

(All live photos by Geir Khile Hanssen)

It may have been three and a half years but the wait for a new Vicinity album has been well worth it. A slice of Prog-metal brilliance which you want to return to again and again, ‘Recurrence’ is a great achievement and shows that this band have now become a force to be reckoned with in the genre. Chock full of addictive earworms and musicianship from another planet, it should be on everyone’s wishlist!

Released 21st April 2017

Pre-order ‘Recurrence’ here