FREDRIK THORDENDAL'S SPECIAL DEFECTS — Sol Niger Within (review)

FREDRIK THORDENDAL'S SPECIAL DEFECTS — Sol Niger Within album cover Album · 1997 · Avant-garde Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
4.5/5 ·
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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