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 (