FREDRIK THORDENDAL'S SPECIAL DEFECTS
Avant-garde Metal • Sweden

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Fredrik Thordendal (born February 11, 1970) is the lead guitarist and a founding member of the swedish metal band Meshuggah.

Under the name Fredrik Thordendal's Special Defects, Thordendal released his first and only solo album in 1997 titled "Sol Niger Within" with Ultimate Audio Entertainment. The album featured Tomas Haake (drummer of Meshuggah ) on "spoken vocals", as well as Morgan Ågren on drumkit and Mats Öberg on keyboards, who both have played for "Mats and Morgan" and " Frank Zappa ". The style of music is best described as very a very similar style to Meshuggah's thrashy poly rhythmic Metal with Jazz elements and some obscure noise effects such as high pitched shrieks and screams.

The album was remixed and re-released by Ultimate Audio Entertainment and Relapse Records in 1999 under the title "Sol Niger Within version 3.33". The re-release contains two bonus tracks but omits several parts
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Sol Niger WithinSol Niger Within
Import · Remastered
METAL MIN2 2010
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.. Album Cover 3.73 | 11 ratings
Sol Niger Within
Avant-garde Metal 1997
.. Album Cover 3.21 | 6 ratings
Sol Niger Within: Version 3.33
Avant-garde Metal 1999

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FREDRIK THORDENDAL'S SPECIAL DEFECTS Sol Niger Within

Album · 1997 · Avant-garde Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
siLLy puPPy
Coming at ya with the complexity of a calculus equation on a physics exam in the rocket science department at MIT, the mastermind himself behind the extreme metal band Meshuggah unleashes his first solo outing to the world under the moniker FREDRIK THORDENDAL’S SPECIAL DEFECTS. Apparently not satisfied with the strangeness and angular extreme metal that Meshuggah delivers on a regular basis, THORDENDAL really lets it all loose on SOL NIGER WITHIN, which not only takes the jazz elements and high tech metal approach of Meshuggah but increases everything exponentially and adds all kinds of delicious ingredients to make one uniquely strange and satisfying edition in the world of djentology.

Some of this music itself doesn’t sound too overly different than the jazz metal fusion that i have heard from Buckethead on occasion but on this release we get a lot of diverse elements that incorporate a djent based guitar riffage with shrieked black metal type vocals that remind me a bit of Cradle Of Filth’s gothic take on the subgenre. Although the album is broken down into 29 tracks on the original release and include two extras on the 1999 re-release titled SOL NIGER WITHIN: Version 3.33 with a few changes like the organ missing, the album really comes off as one continuous track that morphs and evolves from one phase to another. The track listings are fairly unimportant as it really seems like they were randomly imposed on the musical flow.

While this is usually complimented to THORDENDAL as a solo project, this is in fact very much a conglomerate of musical talents that create some interesting avant-garde metal. Amongst others the most notable talents on board here include Morgan Ågren (drums) and Mats Öberg (keyboards) who were both performing with Frank Zappa at one point. Other non-metal instruments include the sax, church organ and yikaki, which is a long wooden instrument played by Australian Aborigines. While most tracks have their feet in the extreme metal world, some such as “Cosmic Vagina Dentata Organ” do not. This all church organ track was nixed from the 3:33 version for whatever reason. I own the first release and find the jettisoned track to be a very interesting intermission in the flow of the album.

While the subject of the lyrics involved seems to be based in the sci-fi world reminding me of the world of Voivod, there is an alien theme i detect going on here as well and the term SOL NIGER, which means the black sun, was referred to by alchemists to reflect the psyche’s feeling tone under the frigid and unrelenting influence of the planet Saturn. Some tracks like “Sensorium Dei” are just sublime in how it utilizes strange mathematical timings with tripped out guitar solos and deftly balances silence with extreme noise. This is a highly recommended slice of avant-garde metal heaven if you are seeking the strange, unorthodox and built-by-intelligent-design world of FREDRIK THORDENDAL which utilizes philosophy, mathematical musical construction and all the extreme metal brutality you would expect from his output.

While i don’t own the 3:33 version, i did find myself impressed enough with this album to check out the two extra tracks on this version for the sake of comparison. The two extra tracks are “Missing Time” which clocks in at 11:31 and “Ooo Baby Baby” which is only a mere 1:15. This version also emits “Painful Disruption” which is merely a 29 second freaky guitar frenzy that sounds like something Steve Vai would conjure up with a Zappa type of feel. “Missing Time” sounds more like a more recognizable jazz-fusion guitar piece with some narration about alien abductions. “Ooo Baby Baby” is a highly aggressive dent guitar assault that is short and to the point. It has a nice strange ending. Overall, i say stick to the original. The extra tracks are nice but i like the omitted ones more.

FREDRIK THORDENDAL'S SPECIAL DEFECTS Sol Niger Within: Version 3.33

Album · 1999 · Avant-garde Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
Warthur
Fredrik Thordendal's side project is a trippy slice of jazz-tinged extreme prog metal, with a delirious concept that seems to allude to alien abduction and all that late 1990s X-Files fun. It's been issued in two versions, of which I have only heard Version 3.33 - which apparently takes out the church organ that appeared on some tracks, but compensates for this with improved sound quality and two extra songs. It's an enjoyable enough listen which will intrigue anyone interested in highly technical jazz-metal that takes the experiments of the likes of Atheist to the next level, though it isn't such a classic as to prompt me to go track down the other version for the sake of comparing and contrasting. In particular, a few too many sections seem to be slightly less experimental than they first appear, essentially being straight-ahead jazz fusion guitar numbers disguised by extreme metal textures and aesthetics.

FREDRIK THORDENDAL'S SPECIAL DEFECTS Sol Niger Within

Album · 1997 · Avant-garde Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
Conor Fynes
'Sol Niger Within' - Fredrik Thordendal's Special Defects (5/10)

To those who aren't familiar, Fredrik Thordendal is the lead guitarist of extreme metal band Meshuggah, an act that has reached near legendary proportions for their highly complex polyrhythms, philosophical themes and experimentation with meter. With that being said, this solo effort takes alot of the sounds that defined Thordendal's flagship project and adds a new dimension of weirdness to the mix that breaks the sound out of convention. With 'Sol Niger Within,' Fredrik Thordendal appears to be at his experimental peak, traversing well into the realm of the avant-garde with some heavily jazz influenced chaos, dissonant soundscapes and a loosely assembled but flowing body of work. While I can't say that a great deal of the new experiments that Thordendal dabbles with here turn out all that well, Meshuggah and avant garde fans will undoubtedly find something interesting to dive into here, although the work here is not nearly as convincing as the music Meshuggah is known for.

At twentysix tracks (plus two bonus offerings), it seems clear that 'Sol Niger Within' is the Last FM scrobbler's dream album. With some tracks just barely meeting the 15 second mark, sections of the album will pass in the time between blinks of an eye. Luckily for the listener however, each of the songs flow together as a larger, 'epic suite' of sorts. The album doesn't sound like it's a Meshuggah release, but there is the sense here that Thordendal hasn't let go completely of the sound from which he built his legend on. The mathematically aware chugging of Meshuggah is here; but something else really makes the music a fiar bit different than a listener may be familiar with. First, the drummer of Meshuggah and Fredrik's bandmate Tomas Haake does the vocal work here; a raspy snarl that instantly brings to mind, the minor character of Salacious Crumb from 'Star Wars VI: Return Of The Jedi.' However, the almost inhuman sound of the vocal delivery meshes almost perfectly in with the experimental nature of the album, and works generally well. Unfortunate, Haake's growling work is not used here nearly a much as it could have, instead making way for large sections of noise and instrumental repetition.

What doesn't work well with 'Sol Niger Within' is primarily it's 'spoken dialogue' sections, and the overbearing concentration on keyboard soloing. Concerning the latter, a fair portion of the instrumental music here consists of a mixture of a meandering synth lead that sounds like Dream Theater's Jordan Rudess at his worst, along with the typical Meshuggah rhythmic chug. While the synth work here sounded interesting at first, the fact that the music constantly falls back on it gets really annoying after a while. Secondly, a few tracks here (unfortunately, some of the longer ones) fall into the category of listless dialogue, in which the narrator rambles about some metaphysical philosophy, which on first impression can be beautifully poetic, but gets incredibly bland after the second and third listens.

As a suite and album, 'Sol Niger Within' feels relatively loose as a composition, especially with the two useless bonus tracks padded onto the end. The musicianship here is great, but the obvious experimentation and avant attitude here doesn't work nearly as well as it could have, especially from a musician as gifted as Fredrik Thordendal.

FREDRIK THORDENDAL'S SPECIAL DEFECTS Sol Niger Within: Version 3.33

Album · 1999 · Avant-garde Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
Conor Fynes
'Sol Niger Within' - Fredrik Thordendal's Special Defects (5/10)

To those who aren't familiar, Fredrik Thordendal is the lead guitarist of extreme metal band Meshuggah, an act that has reached near legendary proportions for their highly complex polyrhythms, philosophical themes and experimentation with meter. With that being said, this solo effort takes alot of the sounds that defined Thordendal's flagship project and adds a new dimension of weirdness to the mix that breaks the sound out of convention. With 'Sol Niger Within,' Fredrik Thordendal appears to be at his experimental peak, traversing well into the realm of the avant-garde with some heavily jazz influenced chaos, dissonant soundscapes and a loosely assembled but flowing body of work. While I can't say that a great deal of the new experiments that Thordendal dabbles with here turn out all that well, Meshuggah and avant garde fans will undoubtedly find something interesting to dive into here, although the work here is not nearly as convincing as the music Meshuggah is known for.

At twentysix tracks (plus two bonus offerings), it seems clear that 'Sol Niger Within' is the Last FM scrobbler's dream album. With some tracks just barely meeting the 15 second mark, sections of the album will pass in the time between blinks of an eye. Luckily for the listener however, each of the songs flow together as a larger, 'epic suite' of sorts. The album doesn't sound like it's a Meshuggah release, but there is the sense here that Thordendal hasn't let go completely of the sound from which he built his legend on. The mathematically aware chugging of Meshuggah is here; but something else really makes the music a fiar bit different than a listener may be familiar with. First, the drummer of Meshuggah and Fredrik's bandmate Tomas Haake does the vocal work here; a raspy snarl that instantly brings to mind, the minor character of Salacious Crumb from 'Star Wars VI: Return Of The Jedi.' However, the almost inhuman sound of the vocal delivery meshes almost perfectly in with the experimental nature of the album, and works generally well. Unfortunate, Haake's growling work is not used here nearly a much as it could have, instead making way for large sections of noise and instrumental repetition.

What doesn't work well with 'Sol Niger Within' is primarily it's 'spoken dialogue' sections, and the overbearing concentration on keyboard soloing. Concerning the latter, a fair portion of the instrumental music here consists of a mixture of a meandering synth lead that sounds like Dream Theater's Jordan Rudess at his worst, along with the typical Meshuggah rhythmic chug. While the synth work here sounded interesting at first, the fact that the music constantly falls back on it gets really annoying after a while. Secondly, a few tracks here (unfortunately, some of the longer ones) fall into the category of listless dialogue, in which the narrator rambles about some metaphysical philosophy, which on first impression can be beautifully poetic, but gets incredibly bland after the second and third listens.

As a suite and album, 'Sol Niger Within' feels relatively loose as a composition, especially with the two useless bonus tracks padded onto the end. The musicianship here is great, but the obvious experimentation and avant attitude here doesn't work nearly as well as it could have, especially from a musician as gifted as Fredrik Thordendal.

FREDRIK THORDENDAL'S SPECIAL DEFECTS Sol Niger Within

Album · 1997 · Avant-garde Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
topofsm
If you think that Meshuggah is too angular and dissonant for you, if you think avant-garde metal like Mr. Bungle is too 'out there', if you think metal jazz fusion doesn't go anywhere beyond Exvious or Planet X, you are in a wild ride. While it incorporates more melody than the first, contains fewer musical elements from the second, and doesn't seem as blatantly virtuoistic as the third, Sol Niger Within is easily one of the most inaccessible albums you will ever encounter, metal or otherwise.

While having guitarist Fredrik Thordendal brings in obvious elements of Meshuggah's bizarre dissonant polymetric riffage, the music goes farther than that. There is a noticeable jazz influence, and while there is more melody, it also allows for more dissonance, so as to create a harsh atmosphere that can be compared to if you gave Ornette Coleman distorted guitars. What's more? There are also more instruments, such as a saxophone, organ, and some instruments listed in the liner notes as a Gallskrik and a Yidaki. When you mix these all together, you get quite an uneasy-feeling album, one that you shouldn't go into expecting to hear some catchy riffs or anthemic pounding songs.

Since all the tracks blend together into one forty minute track, it's hard to pick standouts. Some noticeable ones are the pair of songs "Z1 - Reticuli" and "Z2 - Reticuli" which are possibly the closest medium between jazz and metal possible, featuring the guitar and the saxophone respectively. The outro track "Tagathata" also seems somewhat separate from the rest of the opus, wrapping up the album properly. As for anything else, it's all one giant track of insanity, and should please any avant-garde fan. The only complaint are two tracks in the middle, "Cosmic Vagina Dentata Organ" and "Magical Theatre .33" which are simply bizarre improvised ad lib performances featuring the organ, which among other things interrupt the flow of the album.

Nonetheless, I believe Sol Niger Within is worthy of the title of a flawed masterpiece. The musicianship is top notch, the composition is thoroughly interesting, and it is an innovative work that, while taking influence from several obvious sources, doesn't really sound like anything else. If I had to pick one album to define Avant-garde metal, this would be it, with all the jazz influences and the harsh atmosphere. If you add this to your collection you are not to be disappointed.

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topofsm wrote:
more than 2 years ago
IMO, the definition of Avant-garde metal

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